Fifty-nine years ago, I was born into a world with 3 billion people. In the 1960’s a middle-class lifestyle was an achievable goal, though only one in six people had attained that status. We had yet to celebrate our first Earth Day (that would happen in 1970) and few US federal environmental standards existed.
The major global issue of the time (the 1960-80s) was the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, and the threat of nuclear warfare. In elementary school, we practiced hiding under our desks in the event the Soviets launched a missile attack. In college, I studied International Relations with a focus on nuclear missile treaties. I imagined a career as a Foreign Service officer helping to solve big geopolitical problems. In my senior year of college, an Economics course on International Trade and Finance introduced me to the raw power of the global capital markets, which affect so many aspects of our lives.
Thirty-five years ago, as a young MBA student I became fascinated by what made great companies…. great. Management consulting, investment banking, and investment management were the obvious potential career options. Having never made a single investment in my life, I was perhaps lucky enough to find a job as a public-equity research analyst at a Trust Bank in Providence, RI (albeit at a salary of $21,000). On my first day I was given an office and the responsibility of covering 25% of the companies in the S&P 500. This “trial by fire” opportunity launched my professional investment career.
Thirty years ago, my wife Ellen, our young son, and I moved to Pasadena, CA after she was offered a post-doctorate role at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). As the trailing spouse, I was fortunate be hired by Capital Group as an investment analyst. Over the next nineteen years, my role evolved from Research Analyst to Global Equity Portfolio Manager with a leading role managing several of Capital’s largest and most successful mutual funds. At the same time, Capital grew from a $60 billion AUM firm to the largest active equity manager in the world with over $1.2 trillion in AUM.