“Good investors gather information, put that information into current and historical context, then make sound decisions.”
When choosing someone to work on your home, the top of the list usually includes the craftsmen. This is because craftsmen are generally more experienced and are personally accountable for their work. While craftsmen are usually associated with carpentry and woodworking trades, they also work in other trades. Finding a craftsman can be difficult because they are busy and coveted for their work by those who know their work. The same holds true for those ‘craftsmen’ working outside the traditional trades.
Craftsmen can also be found in the fields of healthcare, education, and finance, as well as many other trades. They, too, are generally more experienced and are personally accountable for their work. Like the carpenter craftsmen, they work within the legal, professional, and common sense constraints of their respective trade. But they also bring the personal element to the front of the relationship. They are not just promoting the company line, or the corporate message. They listen. They weigh all of the options, openly, in front of their clients. And they make adjustments as needed for the benefit of the people who choose them. It’s the difference that you only get when you are working with a craftsman.
Now, every job does not require a craftsman, and not everyone wants to be a craftsman. Some jobs require repetitive precision, and some skills demand exacting attention to prescribed standards. We live in a very unpredictable world with more rules than options, and more consequences than choices. Structure can determine safety and survivability. Consider when you are driving in heavy traffic. There is not a lot of room for individuality. For everyone to be safe, everyone needs to be predictable, and follow the rules of the road.
The best counterpoint resides in the arts. Music, painting, sculpture, literature, theatre and dance can thrive and delight when they break new ground. Yet any master teacher of these arts knows that first one has to study and understand the basic rules, the primary structure and composition of the art, before exploring their boundaries. And therein lies the territory that invites the craftsman.
Craftsmanship in the fields of healthcare, education, and finance are currently running the risk of drowning in rules set by politicians. This happens when people who do not understand a profession seek to regulate it, in a more obscure quest to control those people affected by that profession. Standardizing healthcare, education, and finance begins with lowering standards to common denominators, then building consequences to protect those standards. Invariably, the very people that are supposedly being protected come to suffer from the lack of individuality and creativity that rest within the hearts and hands of the craftsmen, all the while becoming more easy to control. That might bother you. It bothers me.
One of the most distinguishing aspects of a craftsman is not what tools they use, but how they use them. Carpentry tools and the artists’ brushes and paints have been the same for centuries. The difference is in their application. The rules of law are founded in principles established thousands of years ago. Modern medicine is constantly uncovering technologies and medicines, but the basic Hippocratic Oath is timeless. Computer trading and algorithms have accelerated financial deliberations from weeks to nanoseconds, yet communication and suitability standards still determine one’s level of success and comfort while investing. The good news is that throughout history, craftsmen have learned to survive politicians and political agendas. It is much easier to address the needs of an individual, than an entire population. Craftsmen recognize this. And we continue to work towards the best interests of those who have entrusted their goods and their treasure with us.
Edward D. Foy, Manager, SELECTOR® Money Management.
Sources: Bloomberg.com, Marketwatch.com, StockCharts.com.