Friday Highlight  

How entrepreneurial should portfolio managers be?

Critics would argue that many entrepreneurs are pathologically ambitious.

They will persist in the face of adversity and are not afraid of failure or uncertainty; they are (super) confident and willing to take risks.

They can get frustrated with bureaucracy, lack of support, or sluggishness in colleagues or support.

Entrepreneurs often have the courage to make difficult decisions where others may hesitate.

When it comes to similarities between entrepreneurs and portfolio managers, they often share the energy, confidence and task focus.

But many portfolio manager tasks cannot be hurried. So the detailed data collection and analysis maybe too much for the classic entrepreneur.


>Entrepreneurs are usually visionaries in the sense that they are always future-oriented and strategic.

The classic entrepreneur shows potential for generating innovative ideas: to look at business matters in novel ways and find original solutions to problems.

They are divergent thinkers capable of generating imaginative, surprising and inspiring ideas. They prefer to focus on the bigger picture and can bring an original perspective to long-standing business issues.

Most are also excited and energised by new business challenges, even if it means putting in extra work or discretionary effort.

Given their preferences however, creative people often fail to pay attention to detail. 

Many are rarely enthused by other people’s approaches and ideas are uninterested in rule-bound problems. Traditionally, they can be unpredictable and hard to manage.

Perhaps this is where entrepreneurs and portfolio managers differ most: a good portfolio manager has bounded creativity and a reliance on algorithmic innovativeness more than wildly enthusiastic intuition.

They need time and careful convergent thinking to really understand the offerings and options. 

Big picture

Entrepreneurs say they are driven by the desire to improve things and create things that are valued by other people.

They claim they want their achievements to be useful and to bring about constructive change. 

They are likely to believe that they can make a difference in the world and will have a preference for transformational projects. 

They also tend to have an optimistic outlook on their future plans.

They can and do sacrifice small short-term incentives for stronger long-term benefits.

Some have views that are often too utopian and unrealistic. As a result they can easily get carried away with over-ambitious projects.

Compared with portfolio managers, entrepreneurs often seem more ideological, as portfolio managers seem content to do a good job for themselves and their clients.

Saying that, both managers both need to be resilient.

All have tasted the bitter pill of failure but picked themselves up and used it as a learning experience.