YPDaily: Michael Armstrong

Michael Armstrong’s line of work may be a bit complex to understand, but basically people, charities and corporations give him their money and he invests it for them. There’s much more to it, of course, which you’ll find out in today’s YPDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m a founding partner of Armstrong Schmidt Investment Management, a discretionary portfolio management practice which operates under the corporate umbrella of Raymond James Ltd. The partnership provides retail and institutional clients with investment solutions through a specific offering of independently managed public market discretionary portfolios. That sounds like quite a mouthful so in plain English; people, charities and corporations give me their money and I invest it for them. We obviously set out specific guidelines and sign agreements as to how that money is to be invested but within those guidelines I have full discretion. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I had always been very interested in the stock market and had been investing my own money since I was in grade 8. So after getting a BA in Political Science (usually a precursor to law school, which didn’t sound like much fun) I started in the investment industry in 2003, right at the bottom. I took the first job I could get which was a very entry level position at a smaller regional investment firm. Gradually over time you learn more and more about the business and you bother the right people into giving you a desk and a phone. Then you get your first client and you’re off. Six years later, after building up my client base, doing numerous industry courses and hopefully earning the trust of my clients I switched firms to Raymond James Ltd. The move has been great for me and for my clients. And after three years at RJ, I have brought on a partner. A good friend, Andrey Schmidt, who had been a securities lawyer at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin for seven years, joined me in 2010. And now here we are with Armstrong Schmidt Investment Management.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love being decisive and trying to get better at things. In investing, every decision you make is not going to work out perfectly every time. But once you understand that and learn from it, you are freed up to be decisive and make good reasonable investments that you feel have a high probability of success. In life, every choice you make isn’t going to work out all the time either. The trick is to keep trying to get better. Make better decisions. And if you keep making better decisions generally you get better results. So many people (and investors) just keep using the same old flawed decision making paradigm they have always used and wonder why they keep making the same mistakes in life (or in investing). So to answer your question; the part I like best about the day-today is constantly trying to get better at investing and refining my decision making process. That is also the most challenging part as well.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing the same thing but with more clients, more assets under management, more support staff and hopefully a longer track record of good returns for my clients.

What does success look like to you?
Happy healthy family. Enjoyable successful business. Active mind and body. Perspective.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Early on in my career, I had a client (still a client) who was very intelligent in business. He was an investment banker and a lawyer and had been very successful. He knew how to value assets and had all the credentials one would expect. He had an account with me and had other investments on his own that he managed himself. After about five years he called me up and said that I was doing a better job investing his money then he was and that he wanted me to handle all his investments and all his family trusts and pretty much everything. It really gave me a shot in the arm that someone this intelligent and this successful would entrust all the decisions to me. Anyway that really felt like a big milestone.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Figure out what you want to achieve and then reverse engineer that.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Imagine 1 Day International Organization – Educational and community development in Ethiopia where 100% of money donated goes to the specific project of your choice. Their goal is that all Ethiopians have access to quality education funded free of foreign aid by 2030. 

What is Notable to you?
The thing I admire most in people is the drive to improve. If they do that they are actually empowering everyone around them to do the same. It certainly seems like your publication is highlighting people that are actively trying to improve their lives and the communities they live in. Very notable.

Favourite Quote?
“Hey, I don’t have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you my kind of success.”

-Dicky Fox (from Jerry Maguire)