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Lake O’Hara Trip

When did we go….

  • Oct 4-6, 2019

 

Why did we go…

  • to attend an investment conference put on by SmartBE (www.smartbewealth.com) who are a new financial services company focusing on quant-based technologies

 

How did we get there…

  • drove one hour west from our place in Canmore on the Trans Canada Highway to the trailhead 13 km (10 minutes) past Lake Louise (2 km west of the AB/BC border)
  • turn left off the highway and cross the railroad tracks to a parking lot on the right-hand side
  • took an 11 km (half-hour) bus ride up to the backcountry lodge
  • it is a 500 meter climb for those getting into the area on foot

 

Where did we stay…

  • in one of the lakeside cabins within a one-minute walk of the main lodge
  • the one-bedroom cabins are mountain rustic with their own bathrooms and showers

 

Where did we eat…

  • all of the meals were at the main lodge and were spectacular gourmet chow

 

What did we do…

  • attended the various conference sessions where we learned about different investment techniques and ways of looking at the financial markets (see below for more details)
  • walked around the lake enjoying the majestic mountains that surround the area
  • enjoyed amazing meals, cocktails and barley sandwiches with some long-time friends and some new folks we met

 

 

Interesting facts:

  • the lodge is located in Yoho National Park and was built in 1925-26 by the Canadian Pacific Railway to attract tourists along their line
  • the area has a main lodge (8 bedrooms), 11 lakeside cabins, 4 guide cabins, 2 Alpine Club of Canada huts and a day shelter
  • Alison and Bruce Miller have operated the lodge and cabins since 1994 and run a great operation
  • you can bike, hike or take the bus into the area in the summer (ski or snowshoe in the winter)

 

What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • if we had more free time there are a number of spectacular trails of varying degrees of difficulty in the area

 

Conference summary:

  • the conference was hosted by Patty Trimble, Rob Heard, and Art Johnson from SmartBe (SmartBE stands for Smart Beta)
  • the presenters were Dr. Wes Gray (Alpha Architect, LLC) and Corey Hoffstein (Newfound Research, LLC)
  • they were both incredibly knowledgeable and had a fun way of presenting what can be dry material for a nontechnical person like myself
  • the presentations provided reams of data and examples on diversification theory, portfolio assessment theory, factor investing theory, trend-following theory, and behavioural finance
  • the simplified sports-related analogy is when Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics in the early 2000’s, took a sophisticated analytical approach to scouting and analyzing players which has now become the norm amongst all professional sporting organizations (he came to this conclusion based on a chance encounter with a young Yale economics graduate named Peter Brand who had some radical ideas on how to evaluate player value, who he hired as his assistant GM)
  • while I got a bit lost trying to follow all the analytical data, the general message of removing human behavior and relying on data-based information to assist your financial investment decisions is a smart approach to take
  • despite all this information, each person, or family unit, needs to understand that their own personal circumstances will require more of an art vs. science approach to arrive at the best path forward