Kittens and Basketball
KITTENS AND BASKETBALL
By Keith Collins Reagan, Sr.
I was not a Duke basketball fan until Duke Cancer Center helped cure* me of cancer. But after I started receiving sweatpants and t-shirts and stuffed animals with Duke regalia, it became easy to think fondly of Duke. And as I was finishing treatments in March 2015, I selected Duke as the overall winner in my March Madness bracket pool. Wouldn't ya know: Duke won that year! While it was great that I picked the winner in the bracket challenge, it was even nicer that I was cancer-free and done with chemotherapy.
Some people, however, would argue that the most remarkable aspect of my conversion to Duke was that previously, I was a UNC fan. Now to be fair, I was not a hard-core UNC fan as I went to W&M (undergraduate).
Favorite college basketball teams are not the only way I have changed through the years. Before I studied at Wharton, my portfolio management training was almost exclusively provided by Merrill Lynch. Throughout the 1990's I was a pure believer in "Mother Merrill." I thought we had the best research in the world and I was convinced that success was not possible without the guiding hand of the historic firm started by Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch.
After the research scandal of 2000 and my re-education at Penn, I looked at ML very differently. Once I concluded that independent and academic research was superior to the marketing-oriented research I has grown-up on, it was easy to leave. Today I am convinced that Standard & Poor's, FactSet, Value-Line, Morningstar, Zacks and others provide more honest and accurate information. I would never again consider trusting research from a broker-dealer that was also an underwriter and had its own propriety sales force to deliver inventory to the public.
Politics is another area of great change for me. I was raised to be a single-party guy and never question the candidate provided by the party my family embraced as a child. Now I regularly vote for Republicans and Democrats and Independents (or smaller parties) from local elections to the highest office in the land. I am among the growing number of people who prefer to judge candidates as individuals not by party-affiliation.
Finally, I have changed my opinion on pets. I was raised with dogs exclusively and considered myself to be firmly a "dog-person." Then I got married. 30 years ago when I started dating Lisa, she had a cat. That cat lived with us until she died a little over 13 years ago. We currently have two cats but have had as many as three. And I am very fond of our cats...and our dogs - as we have both right now. In conclusion, I am neither a cat or dog person anymore. I am a "registered independent." Haha.
By continually searching for the truth and not being stuck in my ways, I have made changes over the years and am not the same man I was early in my career.
My goals have evolved significantly. As a rookie I wanted to please my superiors and win sales contests. I did not think about research a lot and simply delivered to the public what I was told to sell.
30 years later, I own an independent consulting firm where our focus is finding the best information that will help us reduce risk, create income and provide sustainable growth for our clients. We still use a big name organization for asset custody - namely Fidelity, but our research focus is decidedly from independent and academic sources.
So, kittens and basketball. And politics. And investment research. Much has changed.
*I still have regular scans to ensure that my cancer is gone. It has been several years since my last chemo (3/31/2015) and so far so good. Currently I have check-ups annually at Duke.