On June 12-14, my company, IMA, will host the eighth annual VALUEx Vail conference. I borrowed the idea for this conference from my friend Guy Spier after attending his conference in Zurich in 2011. (If you missed my thoughts from his 2019 conference, you can read them here).
I must admit that there is a very selfish reason why my company and I organize this nonprofit conference: I make new investment friends who share similar values (of value investing). IMA and its clients have benefited tremendously, because the conference has allowed us to build a large global network of value investors from whom we can learn and share ideas long after the conference ends.
Most importantly, over the last eight years I have made a lot of close friends. Twenty years ago, when I started investing, I could draw a clear distinction between my personal and investment friends, but not anymore. I spend as much time talking with my supposedly investment friends about our families as about stocks and the economy.
A small group of us get together a few times a year for a few days, each time in a new city (in 2018 we visited Fort Lauderdale and Dallas). This is not your Hangover 1, 2, or 3 movie type of event, but more like Hangover for Geeks: We visit three or four companies, debate stocks, and enjoy local food. Every single person in this group I met through VALUEx Vail, and every single one of them is a dear friend!
Unlike traditional conferences, every attendee at VALUEx conference is expected to present, and thus the conference is as good as the people who attend it. That means organizing VALUEx Vail is becoming more and more difficult each year. We limit the conference to only forty attendees. The number of applications we receive greatly exceeds number of spaces available. It is easier to get accepted to Harvard than to VALUEx Vail. The worst part is that I have to be a bad guy and say “sorry” to a few dozen people. That’s something I really dread. (I taught a graduate investment class at the University of Colorado for seven years, and one of the reasons I stopped teaching was that I hated giving out bad grades. I don’t like disappointing people.)
If you apply to attend and are not accepted, just know that I feel very bad when I write the “Sorry we don’t have a spot for you this year” email. To learn about VALUEx Vail and to apply, visit https://valuexvail.com. Also, don’t forget to peruse the presentations from previous years on the website.
Application deadline is April 15 (just like IRS).