Who are the world’s most successful business minds, and what is the best way to invest alongside them?
During the last 19 years, a small group of 917 individuals have generated approximately US$3.6-trillion of wealth globally1. These self-made billionaires have collectively demonstrated vision, a work ethic and a tolerance for risk that go far beyond that of the average investor. Perhaps even more importantly, these leaders have shown that they have a talent not just for seeing opportunity, but also for allocating capital accordingly.
A dollar invested in Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett acquired the company in 1964 is worth about US$10,400 today, a phenomenal return that has made Buffett the world’s third richest man and his company the third most valuable in the U.S.
Far-reaching economic effects
But Buffett is just one member of this ultra-elite group of investors. As a whole, self-made billionaires have had an extraordinary effect on the economy during the last few decades. They have brought innovation to communications, technology, finance, consumer products and industrialization. Their successes are not just about personal wealth, but about creating benefits for society in the form of jobs, tax revenue, investment opportunities and philanthropy. When the pool is extended to include second, third or later generation billionaires, the number of ultra-wealthy individuals grows to more than 2,300, internationally. Of the 2,300 billionaires, about 500 are operating or overseeing their own companies, a large amount of which are publicly traded.
Billionaire entrepreneurs are a rare group. An extensive survey of global billionaires by UBS Financial Services and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which included face-to-face interviews with more than 30 billionaires, summed up the key characteristics that make these individuals so successful. They include: a fear of lost opportunities rather than a fear of risk; a shrewd understanding of when they have an advantage and when they do not; a strong ability to bounce back from failure; an intense curiosity; a near-obsessive ability to focus, and a work ethic second to none.
Billionaire Leaders Fund
“In rolling out the Billionaire Leaders Fund, the only mutual fund of its kind available in Canada, Excel Funds Management Inc. (“Excel Funds”) recognizes that these individuals are not just lucky entrepreneurs who have found themselves in the right place at the right time,” says Eric Valderrama Senior Vice President National Sales. “These are extraordinary people who represent some of the best business minds in the world and are among the greatest creators of wealth. The strategy of the Excel Billionaire Leaders Fund is to invest alongside the best of them and harness the earnings power of their talents.
The economist and Yale University professor William Nordhaus has estimated that only about 2 percent of the wealth that a billionaire creates goes to the individual him or herself. The remaining 98 percent flows into society2. Excel’s Billionaire Leaders Fund aims to capture some of that wealth by investing in those billionaire companies that have earned public confidence, demonstrated financial soundness and offer the potential for stable and reliable growth.
Excel Funds has analyzed each of the publicly traded billionaire companies around the globe and will invest in 40 to 50 that are not only the best-run businesses but also the most attractive investment opportunities. The Excel Billionaire Leaders Fund is different from other funds that seek to benefit from billionaire wealth. It doesn’t just look for where extremely wealthy investors have put money.
Instead, it focuses on the public companies where successful billionaires are still intimately involved in daily operations or board oversight. These are the investments that truly benefit from the energy and unique insights of self-made billionaires. We have screened for companies where the founding billionaire has had great success in wealth creation and continues to build the company for future generations.
We look for the highest quality financial statements, not just in terms of performance, but also in their transparency. Each of the selected companies has a market value in excess of US$2-billion and a history of good liquidity. The Billionaire Leaders Fund is a global equity product carries a medium level of risk, based on expected volatility and other factors in a methodology recommended by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC).
Hedging your bets internationally
One of the ways the Billionaire Leaders Fund achieves this rating is by dispersing risk globally; it owns shares of companies around the world. A common characteristic of every holding - whether in North America, Europe or Asia – is that the company is benefiting from growth in developing markets. Indeed, any billionaire expanding his or her wealth today has made the emerging markets part of their strategy.
As an emerging market specialist, Excel Funds can confidently venture beyond just North America and Europe and invest with billionaires, around the globe. Numerous forces are driving this new cycle of wealth creation, such as demographics and a broad shift in government policy away from planned economies to freer markets. Emerging markets have young populations and are experiencing rapid urbanization, infrastructure development, expanding middle classes and growing domestic consumption.
Already, these economies have proven a wise investment. For 11 of the last 15 years, stock markets in developing economies have outperformed the rest of the world, based on a comparison of the MSCI emerging market benchmark and MSCI world indices. The Excel Billionaire Leaders Fund is the vehicle through which many achieve wealth from international investment.