ARBOR OUTLOOK: Costner, Redford and managing money like a girl
“You’re killing me, Smalls!” — Ham Porter to Scottie Smalls in “The Sandlot”
One of my husband’s favorite baseball movies is “The Sandlot.” For him, it ranks with “Bull Durham” and “The Natural.”
Last weekend I found him laughing at it again and joined him. I can stand a little baseball if Kevin Costner or Robert Redford are involved, but this movie is about a bunch of kids. Released in 1993, it stars Denis Leary, Karen Allen, James Earl Jones and Tom Guiry as Scottie Smalls, a 12-year-old kid who moves to a California neighborhood in the summer of 1962 without knowing a soul.
Scottie discovers and joins eight kids playing an endless game of baseball on a neighborhood sandlot: no umpires, no uniforms, no concession stand, no parents. The kids play all day, unless their baseball accidentally clears a neighbor’s (James Earl Jones) fence and is devoured by “The Beast,” a huge dog of which they are completely frightened.
Members of an organized Little League team, complete with fancy uniforms and expensive equipment, arrive on bicycles one day to observe the players in action. Insults are thrown, the type that 12 year-old boys exchanged in 1962. Finally, one of the Little Leaguers hurls the ultimate verbal dart: “You play ball like a girl!” Of course, that comment engenders a challenge game, one which the sandlot players win handily.
On to investing. The most recent issue of Investment News Magazine focuses on the paltry percentage of funds run by women and on the small number of women asset managers in general. Editor Fred Gabriel Jr. questioned “why women are so underrepresented in the role of lead portfolio manager at most asset management firms … when study after study suggests investors would be better off if more women managed assets? And by ‘better off’ I mean their investment returns would be higher.” A famous study at UC Davis, where women garnered higher returns than their male counterparts over a seven-year period, is mentioned in the cover story.
When I began as a fee-only portfolio manager in 2000, my partner was a woman. And I now serve as the lead portfolio manager at my own firm. I work with male asset managers, and while our opinions on strategies and securities differ occasionally, I can’t say it has anything to do with gender. During my career I have worked with excellent male portfolio managers. Fortunately, none have ever said, “You manage money like a girl!”
But maybe that’s not all bad. Kara Murphy, writing in the same issue, says that “Women tend to be more risk-aware … data found women invest in less risky assets … Consequently, women’s portfolios may lag in an up market, but they may lose much less in a down market.”
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, author of the syndicated economic column “Arbor Outlook,” is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 — www.arborwealth.net), a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.