Ted Seides has made his mark, but he feels like he’s just getting started
Featured Events | Mar 20, 2019 | Gabelli School of Business
If you read Ted Seides’ bio, you’d probably think he was ready to wind down.
Currently the CIO of Perch Bay Group and managing partner of Capital Allocators, LLC, Seides left Protégé Partners LLC after serving as president and co-CIO for 13 years. He started his career in the Yale University Investments Office in the 90s, after attending Yale for his undergraduate degree, and then graduated from Harvard Business School shortly thereafter.
Seated in front of large New York City-facing windows in Manhattan’s University Club, Seides spoke with Jon Brolin, founder of Edenbrook Capital and adjunct professor of value investing at the Gabelli School of Business, to talk about his career, a famous bet with a big name, and how he sees his life progressing.
The son of a teacher and a psychiatrist, he said, “I was sort of interested in investing, but I knew very little about what it was, and there were next to no courses back then.” Seides told the Gabelli School of Business student audience that he took the one class during his undergraduate studits that was close to investing, called portfolio theory, and threw himself into the opportunity to work in the investments offices, even though it wasn’t initially where he saw himself.
“I only had two criteria, the first was that I didn’t want to stay in New Haven, and the second was that I thought it was important that I entered something with a training program. So I failed on both of those.”
Still, he liked the people that he was with and sought out mentors, learning as much as he could, and when the opportunity presented itself for him to apply for Harvard Business School, he asked those around him if he should.
Their response? “If you get in, go.”
Seides was accepted and attended, and said that the structure of the curriculum, though limited and tight, allowed him to get to know not only those around him, but also himself. He recalled that each student was only allowed to speak one time in class, an exercise that taught him how to truly wait until it was the right time to raise his hand, and to believe in what he was about to say when it was his turn.
He also described how he learned to really sit and listen, traits he has brought to his current venture as host of the Capital LLC podcast, which has marked almost 100 episodes featuring investors, managers and strategists.
After hearing about Seides’ rise to the top, Professor Brolin had to ask him about a well-known bet that he made over a decade ago with none other than Warren Buffett.
The wager was invested in the S&P 500 Index by Warren and a portfolio of 5 fund of hedge funds by Ted. Ultimately, Ted noted that Warren knew before the time period was up that he was going to win. He now says that the experience showed him that he and Warren were trying to prove two different things: the impact of fees and the validity of hedge funds.
By researching those willing to take financial risks, Ted has learned that the mind shifts after there is a bet made, from first saying what’s on your mind, to then thinking “Do I really believe this?” This is a lesson Ted said he learned all those years ago in business school when he had to wait to speak.
In the hour-long conversation, Seides conveyed that he believes even when he’s lost, he has actually won, by having the opportunity to learn something new along the way and pass that on to others.
“At the end of the day, I see myself as a teacher,” he said. “It feels unfulfilling to be speaking on my career, because I feel like I’m just getting started.”