Portfolios With Purpose: Stock Picking for a Cause

Nov 5, 2013

Portfolios With Purpose: Stock Picking for a Cause

STEVEN RUSSOLILLO

Stacey Asher has taken the art of stock-picking to a philanthropic level, with several of Wall Street’s heavy hitters backing her cause. Ms. Asher is founder and CEO of Portfolios With Purpose, a non-profit organization that runs an annual stock-picking competition where investors aim to raise money for their charities of choice. The contest has attracted hedge-fund titans such as David Einhorn, Leon Cooperman and Dan Loeb in past years as well as hundreds of so-called mom-and-pop investors. It raised $198,700 this year. Now, Ms. Asher has her sights set on doubling that amount for the 2014 competition. Participants must register and provide their picks by Dec. 31 to be eligible for next year’s competition.Here’s how the competition works: Participants are grouped into three categories — master, professional and novice — and pick a basket of five stocks — either long or short — for a mock portfolio. The portfolios’ performances are tracked daily on thePortfolios With Purpose website. By the end of the calendar year, the charities of the top-three contestants in each class are awarded a portion of the entry fees.

Ms. Asher, 31, who previously worked in investor relations and as a hedge-fund marketer, said a trip to Africa inspired her to get involved in the non-profit industry.

“PwP is a way for us to humanize the industry, raise awareness and inspire people to get involved,” she told MoneyBeat.

The 2013 contest has less than two months to go. Doug Silverman of Senator Investment Group is currently in the lead of the master class, as his mock portfolio has generated an 88% year-to-date gain. If he finishes first, his winnings will be donated to the Jericho ProjectJames Dinan of York Capital Management is second, with a portfolio that is up 51% this year. He’s aiming to raise money for the Museum of the City of New York.

Top portfolios in the novice class have actually generated the best performances. William Hennessey is tops among the novice participants, up 169% this year, while Jonathan Blackwell and Kevin Mcniel are up 167% and 151%, respectively.

The novice class, which Ms. Asher says is open to anyone who wants to participate, garners a $100 entry fee. The professional class costs $1,000 a participant and the the master class, which is invite only, costs $10,000 to enter.

The 2014 contest has an added wrinkle: Participants have the opportunity to strengthen their PwP portfolios — through an additional cost — by making a maximum of five trades throughout the year. The idea is for participants to keep close tabs on their stock selections throughout the year and try to fortify their portfolios should some ideas fail to pan out like originally anticipated.

“Everyone loves a really good competition,” Ms. Asher says. “We’re harnessing that and at the same time educating people about the markets and about charities that are either undiscovered or don’t get much attention.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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