SCOTT REED: Find what you need, not what you want


My family was out of town recently and stopped into a restaurant for dinner.

It was a lovely place that had an outdoor courtyard where the owners showed silent movies on the wall of the building next door, and they had a guitarist playing music. He was enormously talented.

It occurred to me that there are so many less-talented people making much more money than he makes in his chosen profession. It hardly seems fair, but that is the free enterprise system at work.

Maybe he is simply very happy doing what he is doing. Maybe he spends more time learning his craft than he spends marketing himself. I don’t really know what his situation is, but I do know that you could learn a lot about playing music from this guy.

There are plenty of people in the music world that can tell you what it is like to be on the road or the best way to choose what songs will go on the next CD, but many times they really aren’t the best musicians.

I think about what Jimmy Buffett once said. He said he wasn’t the best singer in his band or the best guitar player, but he was the best band leader. Buffett said he could hire great guitar players and singers.

That is why he has Mac McAnally. Mac is the reigning Country Music Association’s “Musician of the Year,” and has been for the past five years in a row. Buffett is an extremely talented artist in so many ways, but if I wanted to know more about some complicated chord progression, I believe I would want to talk with Mac.

The investing world is not much different. Every industry has its work horses and its show horses. The people that get interviewed are the ones that give the best interview, not necessarily the ones that have the most pertinent information.

We live in a world where sounding good many times seems to be more important than being good. That is why it is so important to seek out not what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear.

I have a personal rule about what I hear in the financial media: Don’t believe any of it at first blush.

It is frustrating because investors are bombarded with experts that tell them they can do it on their own and then try to tell them how to do it. Unfortunately, I fear that a lot of the people that can help you the most aren’t getting interviewed because they care a lot more about being good than about being interviewed.

So, what’s an investor to do? Well, I think it is important to block out the massive amount of “white noise” that is thrown upon you from the media and seek out those true artists that put together the portfolio you really need.

I’m not saying you won’t find them on TV, I’m just saying that simply because you are on TV doesn’t mean you are worth listening to. Good luck.

Scott Reed is CEO of investment advisory firm Hardy Reed in Tupelo. Contact him at (662) 823-4722 or sreed@hardyreed.com.

Scott Reed