One of the problems a financial writer faces is there’s so much content out there that it’s very hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. That’s why content curators add so much value. For me, there’s no one better at it than Tadas Viskanta, best known for his blog Abnormal Returns. I began this interview by asking Tadas about The Evidence-Based Investing Conference in New York City in November, where he’s going to be chairing a panel.
Are there any speakers you’re particularly looking forward listening to in NYC, and why?
Luckily I have met many of the bloggers who are serving on panels. However I am looking forward to hearing from some true legends like Charley Ellis, Jim Chanos and Jim O’Shaughnessy. That is not something you get to do every day.
You’re a prodigious consumer of financial media, curating content for your blog, Abnormal Returns. There’s a huge amount of information out there, and of widely varying quality. What advice can you give to financial practitioners and journalists on finding the best content?
I think you have to distinguish between news and everything else. On Abnormal Returns I am focused almost exclusively on analysis and commentary. That is why you can hopefully read a daily post later in the week and there will still be things of interest. The other big thing to recognise is that everyone are “talking their book”. That is they are discussing issue through the lens of the personal and professional biases.
Which leads us on to your own book! in the book, Abnormal Returns: Winning Strategies from the Frontlines of the Investing Blogosphere, you talk about the need for ordinary investors to restrict their media intake — to go on a “media diet”, as you put it. For those who haven’t read the book, what do you mean by that?
Try and think ahead a year. What content that you’re reading, watching or listening to today will be relevant let alone interesting a year from now? When it comes to the financial markets, most of what we are reading is ephemera. It will quickly disappear into the ether, never to be read again. Therefore focusing on those things that have the potential to have lasting impacts on the financial markets and your investment philosophy should be your focus.
What did you make of all the “noise” surrounding the Brexit vote? And do you see something similar happening with the US Presidential election coming up?
Noise is inherent in markets. If it weren’t Brexit or the Presidential election it would be something else. The key for investors is to have a plan in place that is relevant no matter the circumstances.
It’s been said that investors read too many articles and too few books. Is that something you agree with?
Absolutely. That being said, it is ever more difficult to make the time to quietly focus on a book. I have been recommending Cal Newport’s latest Deep Work on trying to re-focus on meaningful work in an age of infinite distraction. My only caveat is that many non-fiction books are better off left at article length instead of being padded out to commercial book length.
Of course, our lives are so busy that it’s hard to make time for reading books. Do you have any advice about that?
I used to be an advocate of e-books and the like. I would read books on my iPhone in snippets. I have recently reverted to physical books in part because it provides a more immersive experience.
Finally, how do you see financial blogging developing in the years ahead? And do you see a bigger rôle for audio podcasts and video?
I love podcasts. That is why I devote a weekly post to them. However I would hope to see some more experimentation in the form. An hour-long interview between two interesting people is great but that is a big ask for most listeners. I think some form of short-form financial content is out there to be made.
Why not join Tadas and other industry thought leaders like him at The Evidence-Based Investing Conference in NYC on November 15th? To register, follow this link.
In the meantime, here are interviews with some of the other speakers and panelists: