From curiosity to mastery: a portfolio manager’s journey

Kash Pashootan explains how curiosity, discipline, and healthy paranoia form a critical investment edge

From curiosity to mastery: a portfolio manager’s journey
One of the great things about being a child is that you have license to ask questions about anything under the sun. You can ask why the sky is blue, or when the dinosaurs became extinct, or how birds always find their way home. Like many children, Kash Pashootan was very curious, but the object of his curiosity set him apart.

“From a young age, I have always been curious about how every business I came across works,” he said. “I would go to a bicycle store with my parents as a kid and think about which brand is selling best. Why? Which one was selling best last year and not this year? What makes this bike store more successful than the others? The string of questions would never end.”

Normally, as people grow older, they become less curious and inquisitive. But for whatever reason, Pashootan couldn’t let go of his questioning nature. His inclination toward figuring out the way businesses and markets work has stayed with him through adulthood.

“This curiosity is as active today as ever,” said Pashootan, senior vice president and portfolio manager of the Private Client Group at First Avenue Advisory of Raymond James. “I never run out of questions to ask about the companies we own in the portfolio and others on our radar. It keeps me interested and hungry.”

His hunger has served him well throughout his investment career of more than 17 years, helping him rise to the top of the game. A Chartered Investment Manager and a member of the prestigious Chairman’s Council, he has been named as one of Wealth Professional’s Top 50 Advisors for 2017. He has also earned a slot on the “Global Top 50,” which recognizes the top 50 money managers in the world.

With these and many other titles under his belt, Pashootan has no shortage of reasons to believe in himself. Still, that doesn’t exempt him from having to earn the confidence of clients. As a portfolio manager, he takes on the challenge of proving himself worthy of a client’s trust every day.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing respected, successful people with knowledge and resources consider you as their go-to for all matters relating to their wealth,” he said. “Seeing the work we do and the importance it has in the families’ lives and the differences it makes in managing risks and providing growth for first and second generations is an intoxicating feeling that never gets old.”

As one of a handful of portfolio managers who are licensed to manage investment portfolios for both Canadians and US residents, Pashootan has built a solid reputation as a conservative portfolio manager who delivers results. However, it’s not just his clients who seek his insight. He has also been tapped as an industry expert by respected media sources such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, along with numerous Canadian publications.

How has he managed to become such a success and a recognized authority? “Discipline,” he said. “No matter how good things are going in business, maintain a healthy paranoia of failure… Success comes from treating your best week and your worst weeks the same, and so no matter what, you must work harder the following week.”

With such a grind-oriented mindset, one would think that Pashootan is an advocate of minding day-to-day, week-to-week, or even month-to-month details to achieve success. That’s right, but only to a certain extent. He doesn’t subscribe to the common notion of the day-to-day mindset, which is to focus on today and not mind what tomorrow brings. Instead, he prefers to think of the long game… as does his firm.

“We think five years out with most business decisions we make,” he said. “[It’s] important to invest ahead of your today’s need in the business.”

Five years is the time horizon that he sets for investments, but when it comes to personal and career development, Pashootan has a more long-term perspective. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Charles Duhigg, and Robert Greene have discussed the need to grind habitually and consistently for years, even decades, in order to become a master in a certain field. While Pashootan didn’t disclose any fondness or familiarity with those authors, his personal advice for other professionals does strike a similar chord.

“Spend a few years working on a team to learn the industry,” he said. “Then commit 10 years at 100 hours a week. That’s not the only way to do it, but it is one formula that will ensure you achieve success.”

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