Sloane Ortel is an explorer and definer of the connections between capital markets and economic/cultural forces. Our guest today is the publisher of The Sloane Zone, “an email newsletter that comes when you least expect it, and makes more sense than it should”. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Fordham University, was one of the youngest registered representatives of Oppenheimer & Company, and has served and helped establish Newport Value Partners as a consulting analyst. She now works as an independent strategy consultant for big investment organizations after spending nearly a decade supporting the members of CFA Institute as a collaborator, commentator, curator, and subject matter resource.
“(At the CFA) I spent the better part of a decade talking with folks from every conceivable time zone about … really doing things that mattered for people there like building better financial markets that can better serve the people. And that’s wonderful and noble, but for my own personal investing, it sort of created the idea that investments came in a particular package.”
Worst investment ever Bitcoin bubbles waiting too long to invest In the summer of 2010, when Sloane had just joined the CFA, she had a very unusual, purely meat-eating Eastern European person move into her house who was “in the process of moving all of his personal wealth into Bitcoin”. While he piqued her interest in the topic, she did her own research and decided to avoid involvement, as her perception of her influencer as bizarre kept her from taking action and getting into what might have benefited her. Skeptical but curious in 2012, when her roommate moved out, Sloane decided to have another look at it, doing the numbers on setting up to mine it. Again she dismissed it due to its connection to the extremely eccentric guy she associated with it. As more “legitimate” institutional interest started being paid to this new asset class, she decided to invest in Bitcoin herself, with initial funds of $200, and tried to lose it on purpose, as a sort of validation of its difficulty to trade in it, therefore its validity would be proven and she would dive in more.
“If it actually takes skill to trade the thing, I should be able to lose money on purpose. And if I could do that, then I do actually have evidence that there is skill involved in trading the entity, and I can sort of rationalize putting a larger allocation into it.”
Things took an unexpected turn as her investment skyrocketed and gave her $1,400 in profit in around six weeks. She withdrew her capital and left her profit as her initial perception of the investment had affected her investment decision. As investors took a huge blow after its sudden drop in value, Sloane looked back at her investment and found that it went way downhill. From a 600% profit, it went down to just $35. But …
“The overall upshot of the story is that I allowed my perception of one particular person to keep me from participating in this giant secular bubble until it was almost too late.”
Some lessons Believe in yourself Part of the reason Sloane was not talking about the investment was out of a fear that people would perceive her as being as strange as the person who had first suggested a foray into bitcoin.
Take the impulse to actually trust your own instincts Listen to that inner voice, is what Sloane says she should have done.
Be open to input from outside conventional packaging People can be very resistant people to things that are not presented or come in the manner they expect. Sloane said she is one such person. In institutions, there is almost a parade-type function that a process need to satisfy for those with power to accept and execute it.
Andrew’s takeaways People around us can influence us and