We Think Differently from Here


John L Reifsnider | President

In 1962, social psychology pioneer Solomon Asch performed a series of conformity studies for Candid Camera entitled "Face the Rear."

In these studies, Asch asked a group of people who were part of the study to enter an elevator and stand facing the rear. Thereafter, a person not part of the study followed those people into the elevator.

Under typical circumstances, no person would face the rear in an elevator. What did the targets of the study do? More times than not, they would conform with the crowd – even in defiance of historical norms – and face the rear.

For any investor, the implications of this study are clear, and frankly a bit scary. Scary because achieving above-average investment results requires taking views of the market which are unconventional but ultimately correct. However, as humans, we innately feel a pull towards the crowd. Being different and performing at a high level therefore requires constant vigilance against this social pressure to conform.

Our conviction in the importance of standing apart from the crowd is why, at TSW, our slogan is "We Think Differently from Here."

TSW has been thinking differently for more than fifty years, beginning on our first day, in 1969, when we launched an investment management firm from Richmond, Virginia. In 2000, we added an institutional presence with our Small-Cap Value strategy, as dot-coms and growth stocks were all the rage. TSW began managing non-U.S. equities in 1993, a decidedly unconventional move in Richmond, Virginia. Today, we manage more than $10 billion in International assets for our clients. Yes, we do think differently from here, and we're proud of it. At TSW, a contrarian streak has become part of our DNA.

A new series of fresh content marketing

Over our history at TSW, we have lived through many market cycles and world events. While we have been at this a long time, the COVID-19 crisis marks the first global pandemic in our company's lifespan. The COVID-19 crisis is also unique from previous ones in how it has suspended one of the things we love most - spending time with all of you.

This challenge presents opportunities for growth. Our time apart has made us reflect on the necessity for us to create new ways to communicate and reach out. We now know we need to find more avenues – beyond the physically present, which will always be our favorite – to communicate with our clients, unpack our thinking, and explain how we make sense of the world.

From this realization, we are using this letter to launch a new series of content marketing, which we are calling "Thinking Differently from Here."

We chose this title for our new content marketing effort, for it will, like all we do, be different and unique. How?

First, we aim to bring content in many forms - writing, audio, video, or whatever way we feel best shares the unique personality and message of the creator. It will not be rote or cookie cutter.

We also promise we will not address a topic unless our take is fresh, unique, and additive – or if it shares something about our investment approach that we think you should know.

Through this series, we will specifically share more with you about what our portfolio managers, research, and asset allocation teams are doing with client portfolios to stay ahead, and how we are making sense of the growing complexity around us.

Finally, we look forward to receiving your feedback on this series, which we will ultimately use to make it better.

Above all, we promise to enhance our communication with you, particularly at this time when more traditional means of doing so are not available to us.

With kind regards,

John L Reifsnider | President