A little under 11 years ago, a modest website went live.
With the unlikely domain name of fool.com.au it was to be the first significant international expansion of The Motley Fool in a decade.
I was lucky enough be to Fool #2 — through some felicitous coincidence, I’d emailed our CEO on spec having heard the company was looking toward ‘international expansion’ at some point, and I contributed my first article to the website soon after.
We spent most of that first year trying to explain how a serious company could be called ‘The Motley Fool’, and sharing our message of individual investor empowerment.
Then at the end of 2011, we launched our very first premium investment advice service: Motley Fool Share Advisor.
The first recommendation was sent to our members on this very day a decade ago — the date we reckon is best considered Share Advisor’s birthday.
And so, on Sunday, we celebrated Share Advisor’s tenth birthday — a decade of doing our very best to bring quality investment advice — share recommendations, education and commentary — to our members.
December 5 2011, feels like a lifetime ago.
And only yesterday.
I’m proud that we’ve made it to this milestone.
I’m proud of the people who’ve worked on the service over the years.
I took over in the middle of 2012, so I can’t take all the credit for the last decade, but in any case I’m a huge proponent of Sir Isaac Newton’s observation, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.
I have worked with some wonderful people, directly on the service, and in the wider Motley Fool Australia investment team.
We have been wonderfully supported by the non-investors in our company who help people find us, help people get the best from us, and help us do our best work.
I am deeply indebted to our US investors, from whom I learned about investing as a member, before joining the team.
And to the investors, business people and writers from whom we’ve all learned over the years.
Which is all a little inward looking, right?
What about our members?
We are so incredibly humbled that so many Australian investors have chosen to use our services. It’s a deep trust that we take very seriously, and we continually strive to earn and keep.
I also want to thank the 173 members who have been with us, continuously, since that very first recommendation.
I like to hope it’s because we’re doing something right. But it’s also thanks to that trust they placed in us, even when markets — or individual company results — were unkind.
They stuck with us, which I deeply appreciate. Thank you to those 173 members — and to all of you who’ve renewed your membership when it fell due — and to those who are in your first year of membership with us.
I hope we’ve helped you become better investors.
I hope you feel better equipped to make your investment decisions, and to ride the waves of market volatility. And to keep the principles of diversification and portfolio construction close at hand.
I want to finish with some numbers.
We’ve made 121 ASX recommendations.
Our biggest ASX winner is Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) (I own shares) which we recommended on August 23, 2012, and which are up an exact 1,000% at the time of writing! (1,000.18% to be exactly exact!).
My biggest loser is iSentia Group Ltd (ASX: ISD), currently down 97.48%, which was recommended on November 26, 2015. Yep. That one hurts.
We’ve made 49 ASX recommendations which have lost money (some have since been sold, others are still current recommendations, and we’re hopeful of better returns in future!)
72 have made money (similarly, many are still current recommendations.)
Encouragingly, while our worst loser is down that ugly 98%, we’ve made 33 ASX recommendations that have at least doubled — many of those have tripled and more.
The average of all of our ASX recommendations, over that decade, is a gain of 73.2%.
If we’d invested in the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO), instead of our recommendations, on each recommendation date, the average gain would have been 44.4%.
That’s some pretty good outperformance, so far, that I’m pretty proud of.
(The industry standard for funds is to annualise both figures. That’s harder for our service, because one recommendation is a decade old and one is just a week old. (Annualising a one week result would turn a 1% gain into a 52% annualised gain, or a 2% loss into a 104% loss, for example!)
Still, as our founding General Manager Bruce Jackson has always said, it’s our members’ scorecards, not ours, that matter.
To which I’ll add: It’s the future that counts, not the past.
What will the future look like?
I wish I knew.
But that’d take all the fun out of it.
What I know is that we’ll continue doing our utmost to help our members.
We’ll redouble our efforts to deserve their trust.
I hope I’m writing a similar piece in 2031, reflecting on the success Share Advisor has enjoyed in its second decade.
And I hope even more Australians will be able to say we’ve been instrumental in helping them achieve their financial goals.
As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, it’s always Day One.
What matters is the returns of our members from today. And of those members who join Share Advisor today, tomorrow and hereafter.
So thank you for the part many of you have played in our journey so far.
And here’s to the next 10 years. And the 10 after that.