READ THE AL-F.A.Q.-DI
(i.e., all of the frequently asked questions that people have for Anthony J. Alfidi, the glorious Founder and CEO)
Q. So Mr. Alfidi, what’s this company of yours all about?
Alfidi Capital is my vehicle for communicating my investment ideas to the world at large. I am convinced that sound investment decisions are relatively simple to make, and I enjoy sharing the results of my own decisions with others. It is part vanity project and part moneymaking pastime for me. All of the reports I create on this website represent the actions I take with my own portfolio, and nothing more. I manage my investments in my personal accounts, and Alfidi Capital exists solely to publish my financial ideas. I strive to provide a perspective on the financial markets that is honest, humorous, and devoid of conflicts of interest.
Q. Do you make any money from this business?
Since I don’t have anything for sale on the main website, I have to earn income somehow. The sponsored advertisements and web links on this site and its blogs generate revenue for me by way of my business entity, Alfidi Capital. This revenue helps accelerate my retirement date and pay for night life in San Francisco. I need a business structure to properly report the income and to govern legal responsibilities. Please note that Alfidi Capital provides no endorsement or warranty for any products or services offered in advertisements that may appear on this site.
Q. Why does this site look so amateurish? My brokerage’s website has a whole bunch of fancy looking tools and gizmos that impress people.
First of all, I am too cheap to hire a web designer, so I built this website myself using some commonly available tools. Secondly, this firm is not a brokerage, so the site doesn't need things like login portals and searchable inventories of products. I am skeptical of the bells and whistles that appear on the sites of typical investment firms. The difference between my firm and some major investment house (besides the fact that no one can buy anything from me) is like the difference between homemade cooking and mass-produced store-bought food. I'd rather be authentic and original than cook up a bunch of hooey that would eventually get stale. If you don't like my website then that’s perfectly okay; there’s a website just for you out there somewhere.
Q. Are UFOs real?
How would I know? Ask the people at Area 51 instead of me.
Q. Do you provide customized investment advice and recommendations?
No, absolutely not. I do not have the time or inclination to acquire clients and probe them on their goals, risk parameters, and time horizons for investing. Nothing on this site should ever be construed as a personal investment recommendation. See my legal disclaimer for more details. Do not ever ask me for financial advice or securities recommendations of any kind.
Q. Will you manage my money? Please?
No. Get a properly licensed financial advisor. I used to be such a financial advisor with a major Wall Street firm, and everybody I met wanted the benefit of my free analysis but didn’t want to pay me for my trouble. Clients and prospects couldn’t make up their minds about what they wanted, and when they did they were too cheap for me to earn a living! The only money I will ever manage is my own. Do not ever send me any money; I don't want it and I can't take it.
Q. Is Alfidi Capital for sale? If not, would you consider selling it to another investment firm at some point?
No and no. This firm is mine and mine alone to run for the rest of my life. I don’t see any possibility of an eventual sale because Alfidi Capital has no client accounts or securities inventories. The only thing this firm has to offer is the intellectual ability and personal character of its founder, yours truly, Tony Alfidi. I am not for sale.
Q. Mr. Alfidi, you are quite handsome. Do you have a girlfriend?
Why, thank you! I’ve been getting asked that ever since LASIK surgery in September 2007 got rid of my Coke-bottle glasses. I normally don’t discuss my personal life, but suffice it to say that socializing in San Francisco is quite a bit more costly than in flyover country.
Q. Say, I noticed you’ve never held any senior positions with a major firm. How can anyone take you seriously when you talk about investments?
I claim no more expertise than that which is available to anyone of normal intellect who is willing to learn about standard financial concepts. Analytical products stand only on their own internal logic, and little can be inferred about a specific work from an author’s formal title. Academic research indicates that 90% of professional money managers fail to outperform their index benchmarks over periods of ten years or longer (go look it up!), so holding an impressive-sounding title does not indicate an innate ability to beat even a random result. I have worked for two major investment firms whose internal funds were run by PhDs and CFAs with decades of experience, and yet they were unable to consistently outperform Mr. Market for any reasonable stretch of time. Titles and credentials impress the impressionable; actual results are far more meaningful.
Q. I’ve also noticed that you don’t have any professional certifications like CFA, CFP, CIMA, and others. How can you know anything about investing if you don’t have an alphabet soup on your business card?
Certifications are nice to have, and I’d be willing to earn them if I weren’t so darn busy thinking about the world at large and trying to make this business work. There’s a small possibility that I’d learn something useful from those programs. I recognize those credentials too, and I’ve noticed over the years that investment professionals who hold them still can’t seem to outperform Mr. Market. I’ve also noticed that Warren Buffett, John Bogle, and George Soros don’t hold any of the industry’s prized acronymic credentials, and yet they have achieved extraordinary success as investment managers. Their success may have something to do with their avoidance of the herd mentality that is a natural byproduct of marching through an industry’s accepted gateways. The only acronymic title I presently hold is CEO, although people are welcome to refer to me as “Generalissimo,” “Supreme Super-Genius,” ”Grand Poobah,” “Greatest Man Who Ever Lived,” or other appropriate appellations. The only other credential I truly think I need is a PhD in kibology.
Q. Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?
Grant, and maybe Whistler’s mother. Okay, not that second one, but it sounds funny to say it.
Q. Should I model my own portfolio after your Alpha-D portfolio?
No, you should never do that. The Alpha-D Multi-Strategy Portfolio is not some model portfolio; it is MY portfolio. It represents the investments I make with my own money. The Alpha-D portfolio reflects my own goals and risk tolerance, and is therefore not suitable for the specific financial situation of any other human being. I only publish it to prove I can write in English and understand finance, because my cognitively deficient MBA classmates assumed I was illiterate. No one else could possibly use it to make decisions with their own money; for that, one should consult a trusted financial professional as a fiduciary.
Q. What's your track record of performance?
I do not have a track record or deal history. I am not a financial adviser, financial planner, financial consultant, financial representative, portfolio manager, wealth adviser, broker/dealer, commercial banker, investment banker, registered investment adviser, or any such thing. I am a private investor and I love to mouth off about finance. It really is that simple.
Q. Okay, Tony, so you won’t manage my money, give me advice, or say that I should invest the way you do. So what’s the point of anyone reading your commentaries?
The point is that you can learn from the perspectives I provide in conjunction with any other information you find in the investing universe. I plan to develop a loyal following of readers who enjoy my insights. My analysis can be a source of education and amusement for the serious investor who values honesty and independence, in the spirit of Warren Buffett’s annual letters from Berkshire Hathaway. My portfolio gives me credibility because I put my money where my mouth is. If I gain or lose wealth, it is because of something I choose to do and not what someone else does for me. Consider my portfolio and research products to be works of art that deserve admiration and contemplation. My creations are at least as inspired as what that Leonardo da Vinci dude made way back when in Italy or somewhere, I think.
Q. Do you charge anything for your analytical products?
No. I provide all research and commentary free of charge to all comers as a public service. You see, America is the land of the free. In practical terms, that means everybody wants something for free. Americans invented the free lunch and free love. I take this to the next level by giving away financial analysis for free. Let freedom ring!
Q. I’ve noticed that you’re interested in venture investing. Will you fund my startup?
Well, let’s put it this way. I’m willing to review startup business plans, but I really will only commit my own money to firms that meet the eligibility criteria I spell out in my Private Equity Strategy. I also only deal with startups from reputable accelerators in my personal network. I can no longer collect random proposals from people I have not met. Please note that I will not sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in advance of reviewing a business plan. I’m an entrepreneur myself, and I admire people who accept similar risks.
Q. I want to work for you because you are obviously a genius. How do I send you my resume?
Thanks, but no thanks. Alfidi Capital is a one-person operation. Always has been, always will be. There are no position vacancies at this firm. I will never hire anyone, ever. Not even an intern. Not even your mother-in-law. Do not ever send me a resume; I won't read it and I will discard it immediately without the courtesy of a reply. I've noted over the years that people send me their resumes anyway, so they must be unwilling to read this FAQ.
Q. Do you publish research reports with Buy/Hold/Sell recommendations of individual securities?
I tried hard for several years to find a way to publish reports on individual securities that would be meaningful to me personally and still be compliant with SEC guidelines. I could not find a way to meet those expectations. I eventually abandoned any and all consideration of dedicated securities coverage.
I’ve made a well-considered choice to stay away from ratings like that because I’m not in the “recommendation” business. I’m not selling anything at all, so it doesn’t make sense for me to tell anybody else what to do with their money. Note that Wall Street firms inevitably skew their equity ratings toward the “Buy” end of the spectrum to win investment banking business from covered companies. This bias degrades the power of a clear recommendation, causing confusion for investors who see some “Buy” stocks rise while others fall. Pressure from an investment bank causes sell-side analysts to say goodbye to objectivity and hello to conflicts of interest. My analysis is focused on discovering the intrinsic value of a business enterprise so that I can locate my entry point for including it in my own portfolio. A recommendation of Buy, Hold, Sell, or whatever would imply that I think other investors should do likewise. I do not want Alfidi Capital to go down that road. Investors need to figure out for themselves what they want to do with their money. Please note that any graph, chart, formula, or other device in any of my publications absolutely cannot, in and of itself, be used to determine which securities to buy or sell, or when to buy or sell such securities, and cannot assist persons in making those decisions due to the obvious and severe limitations thereof and the difficulties regarding the use of said publications.
Q. So, Mr. Alfidi, you say you're a CEO but you don't have any employees to boss around. Why bother calling yourself that if you're the only person running this thing?
Great question. I settled on the title CEO because my original choice, Supreme and Perpetual Grand Universal Commander With Ultimate Immortal Power, sounded a bit too grandiose upon reflection. It's my dog-gone firm and I can call myself anything I please. Plenty of Wall Street titans who end up as CEOs don't know what they're doing anyway, so I figure I can thumb my nose at them by adopting the same title.
Q. I've noticed that Alfidi Capital isn't registered with the SEC, FINRA, or any other regulatory bodies. What makes you think that you can get away with that?
This firm isn't subject to securities regulations because it doesn't market any securities. I exercise my right to speak freely in public by publishing research and commentary. The primary regulation governing me and my business is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Readers should note that the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 specifically excludes "the publisher of bona fide newspaper, news magazine or business or financial publication of general and regular circulation" from its definition of investment adviser. This website and its related blog postings are a form of business publication. In a similar vein, Section 401(f) of the Uniform Securities Act (the basis for most states' securities laws) excludes from the definition of investment adviser "a publisher of any bona fide newspaper, news column, newsletter, news magazine, or business or financial publication or service, whether communicated in hard copy form, or by electronic means, or otherwise, that does not consist of the rendering of advice on the basis of the specific investment situation of each client." Furthermore, Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 requires disclosure of consideration that publishers of investment information may receive from products, services, and purveyors they mention. I will always fully disclose any and all interests I may have at any time. The SEC has published a very informative guide that readers can use to evaluate publishers of investment-related information. Finally, let's note that the U.S. Supreme Court Decision of Lowe vs. SEC (1985) specifically exempted publishers of investment information from registration as investment advisers.
Q. Some people like to badmouth you and your business. What happened?
I could hazard a couple of guesses but it would be a waste of time. Some people must have nothing better to do. I also expect many more people to badmouth my business all over the Internet as I often address controversial subjects. My writing is going to make a lot of bad people very angry. Even good people will disagree with me sometimes, which is perfectly okay. Their reactions indicate that I am doing something right.
Q. We plotted your business address and it looks like you're located in a nice neighborhood. Why are you there?
That's where I live. I work from home. A new landlord bought all of the private apartment complexes on my block a few years after I moved to this neighborhood in 2004. Prior residents like me are legacies who can stay provided we behave ourselves. I don't mind having a landlord. I'll move when I'm ready. I have nothing to do with my neighbors. Do NOT visit my business address; it is my home address and I do not accept visitors.
Q. Is there anything else you want to say?
Sure, I'll wrap it up on a high note. I'm not on the buy side; I don't manage other people’s money or recommend securities. I'm not on the sell side; I don't underwrite offerings or finance deals. I'm truly an independent analyst and private investor, and every SEC and FINRA rule I've read says that's okay. If everyone on Wall Street behaved this way, our world would be a much better place.