Bruce Murray had a keen interest in the world of business and finance from a very early age. He purchased his first stock when he was in grade 7!
There was good reason for this - prior generations of his family had little understanding of wealth management and had inadequately prepared for the generational transfer of the family assets. This experience instilled a strong desire to understand business and the financial markets and to control his own financial destiny. It also drove home to him the importance of empowering his children to preserve and grow the legacy he would ultimately pass on to them.
This experience continued to serve him well when he started Murray Wealth Group, a money management firm serving high net worth clients and their families, many of whom face the same challenges.
Prior to launching the firm that bears his name, Bruce spent 25 years as a Portfolio Manager at McLean Budden, a blue-chip money management firm. With the benefit of a strong investment team and disciplined investment process, McLean Budden grew to become one of the largest and most successful investment management firms in Canada. As Director of Research and Portfolio Manager, Bruce helped build the firm’s assets under management to a peak level of $44 billion. The firm was sold to MFS Investment Management in 2011. Prior to joining McLean Budden, Bruce was Vice President and Equity Analyst at Nesbitt Thomson, where he was acknowledged as a top ranked Special Situations Analyst in the Brendan Wood International Survey of Institutional Investors. By that point, it was clear that he had a real talent for stock picking.
Prior to that, Bruce was at Crown Life Insurance Company, where he began his investment career back in 1976. Bruce has always been extremely interested in the corporate sector and identifying stocks with superior growth potential. “I think that’s because I’m intellectually competitive. I relish every opportunity to outperform. I also love working with clients and talking to them about potential solutions to issues they and their families are experiencing.”
Investing through numerous cycles has given Bruce an edge in understanding the growth trajectories of companies and what to look for at each stage. His keen interest in history has also allowed him to separate permanently altering factors from what are merely bumps in the road. Having met with hundreds of corporate managements over the length of his career, he is able to judge the soundness of management teams and their strategies. And, his extensive travels over the years have helped him assess the investment environment in numerous countries and to put context around potential investments.
“The stock market is very unpredictable, so we invest in companies that can grow with the economy and emerge from downturns stronger than their competitors.” Having said that, Bruce acknowledges that it is critical to foresee certain large events if you want to outperform. “My two biggest calls were getting out of the tech bubble early, in 1999, which led to a strong period of out-performance afterwards. And in 2009, in the wake of the recession, you could acquire great companies at $0.20 on the dollar, and we made great returns in both those periods.
Empowering the Next Generation
“I have spent the last 40 years in the institutional money management business learning how to do things properly. And, I have educated my children on how to manage the family assets. As part of their education, I introduced them to a wide range of money managers, from very aggressive to relatively conservative, and encouraged them to make their own investment decisions. It is so important to educate your children about the value of money and the investment process and the importance of taking more than a casual interest in generating, preserving and growing their own wealth,” Bruce says.
Bruce feels strongly that parents should empower and educate their children, even going so far as to charge interest on money advanced to them, so that they learn the value of money and understand what is involved in building their own wealth. For so many, preparing the next generation is major challenge. Although his three children have benefited from a good life, travelling extensively with the family, they all work hard. Today, all three are entrepreneurs who have built their own successful businesses. Jamie, his oldest son, shares Bruce’s passion for investing also has a knack for stock picking, and works alongside him at MWG.
Operating a Successful Family Business
According to GoForth Institute, approximately 80% of all businesses in Canada are family-owned. Jamie Murray, who is also a CFA, joined the family business in 2017 and is Portfolio Manager and Head of Research at The Murray Wealth Group. He advises young people thinking of going into the family business to earn the role they will eventually assume. He encourages family members to work in the industry, as he did for 10 years before joining forces with Bruce, and to be prepared to start at the bottom and work their way up.
JAMIE MURRAY and BRUCE MURRAY
“Money and family connection are not enough. You have to want to do the job and to be prepared to work hard to develop the required skills,” Jamie says. His background includes 10 years of experience in the investment industry and corporate strategy. “You see new ideas and best practices that have provided me with a different perspective. Bruce and I are able to draw upon our respective backgrounds to provide a unique viewpoint on investing.”
Bruce and Jamie work collaboratively. If either disagree on a potential investment, the investment is not made. “Bruce and I look at all decisions independently. We are constantly adjusting, looking for an edge to make the portfolio stronger and to generate better returns for our clients and ourselves, and we pay careful attention to the preservation of capital,” Jamie adds.
The firm has two different pooled funds. Each can be combined with other separately managed funds (both equity and debt) to create innovative investment solutions that are as diverse as their client base.
The MWG Global Equity Growth Fund is the firm’s core product. The Fund consists of approximately 35 best-in-class global companies that tends to exhibit higher than average growth characteristics. “The Murray Wealth Group utilizes a rigorous research and selection processes. We look for high quality companies that have exhibited financial and operational success over a number of cycles and demonstrate above-average growth characteristics. Identifying strong management teams that have successfully led companies through several cycles and periods of disruptive change is equally important,” Jamie says.
The Principal’s invest a substantial amount of their own money in the same investment vehicles they offer to their clients. “We are long-term investors and, as such, try to look past the drama of the daily headlines when identifying investment targets. For example, companies like Microsoft, Home Depot and TD Bank tend to do well regardless of what is going on in the news. We invest in companies that know how to manage their businesses in a changing environment and are able to do well consistently,” Bruce explains. With 43 years in the investment industry, he is able to recognize a company with a solid strategy, and knows the signs to look for in how well a company is executing on its strategy.
As a final word, Jamie adds, “Our goal is to own good companies that will make a lot of money over a 3-5 year period. We are not focused on a particular industry or index. Rather, we keep abreast of 300 best-in-class companies in all sectors/all industries. We then narrow that list down to the 35 stocks that are included in the portfolio. We tend to favour larger companies because it is more likely they will be around in 20 years.”
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category.
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