While fight, flight, freeze and fawn responses have been hard-wired into human’s brains over the millennia, those instinctual responses can be detrimental when it comes to choosing which stocks to buy and which to sell. An article in Schroders offers more structured strategies that can foster more productive decision-making, especially in times of great volatility.
In an interview with Schroders’ The Value Perspective podcast, CEO of investment firm IMA Vitaliy Katsenelson posits that many people live in bubbles that he refers to as “Myopic Circles.” Often those circles keeps us from thinking outside of them; in investing, that translates to not seeking out opportunities in places that you might not have any exposure to in your world. Katsenelson highlighted the niche of money transfers; while many people wouldn’t look past PayPal or Venmo in this niche, there is a large population of immigrants in the U.S. who are transferring cash to relatives in emerging markets. Roughly $100 billion in cash every year between the U.S. and Mexico, an untapped market that many investors know nothing about because they’ve never been exposed to it.
Those small money-transfer companies that focus only on transfers between the U.S. and Mexico, or the U.S. and Guatemala, are able to compete with money-transfer giants such as Western Union because they provide a singular service: agents on the ground who can communicate in their customers’ language. In this sense, they have turned the giant’s advantage—its size—into a disadvantage, much like Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, which Katsenelson cites in the interview.
Katsenelson encourages investors to combine these two outlooks—myopic circles and David vs. Goliath—to identify their biases and think outside of their bubble when looking at companies to invest in. “All investors have these biases on how we think about things and we need to be aware of that,” he told Schroders.