At the Women of Burgundy Feature Event in Toronto this month, Anne Maggisano, Senior Relationship Manager, interviewed Anne-Mette de Place Filippini, Director, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager of Burgundy’s emerging markets equities. One of the questions focused on Anne-Mette’s love of sports, and how she ties tennis player Rafael Nadal’s discipline and process to Burgundy’s investment approach. She also touches on an important concept previously discussed by Portfolio Manager of Asian equities, Craig Pho, at the 2013 Burgundy Client Day: winning by not losing. Below is the question and Anne-Mette’s response.
You had passed out an article to the Investment Team about the world-famous tennis player, Rafael Nadal. I’m curious: what is it about Nadal’s process to tennis that you thought would relate to Burgundy’s investment process?
Anne-Mette: I have to come out straight here – I’m a little biased because I’m a competitive tennis player. But I do think there are a lot of analogies between sports and investing. You can learn a lot from sports, and I’ve certainly learned a lot from sports over the years.
How do you learn something? How do you become good at something? How do you practice? What do you practice? What sort of discipline do you apply to that practice? How do you win? When you lose, how do you lose? How do you learn from losing and from making mistakes?
I have a lot of admiration for Nadal because he has turned humility into his strategy. One of the things he said in the article I distributed was, “When I look at Roger Federer, and I look at Tiger Woods, and I see them play their game, I understand why they’re winning. I understand that they’re very good.” So this is a bit akin to Richard Rooney in the investment world; I understand why he’s as good as he is. But Nadal says, “When it comes to me, then I’m not so sure. I think it’s going to be really hard, an impossible challenge – but I’m excited about the challenge. And I’m embracing the challenge. I’ll do my best and work every point.” Anyone who watches Nadal play tennis can see that he’s not the most talented player out there. But he got to be number one. He got there by this attitude and tremendous mental strength.
There’s another interesting analogy between tennis and investing: if you watch tennis on TV, you’re always shown the number of “unforced errors.” If you just show me the unforced error stats, I think I can always tell you who won. Tennis is a game about not losing. And in winning, sometimes you win by not losing. Nadal is a good example of that; he makes very few unforced errors. This is what Burgundy tries to do in investing as well. We try to not lose, and some of our winning comes from not losing. When you lose 50% on your investments, you have to make 100% just to get back to even. So this is why the winning by not losing strategy is interesting.