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JULY 10, 2014
WILLIAM FRUHAN JOHN BANKO
Thompson Asset Management
“Thanks, Peter. I look forward to meeting you next week as well.” Allison Thompson cradled the phone and looked out her office window at the Florida riverfront as she considered the possibilities and implications of her conversation with Peter Landman. As CEO and founder of Thompson Asset Management (TAM), an investment management firm that she had started in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2009, Thompson had grown the firm from a single client and a $500,000 investment to about $83 million in assets under management (AUM) in two funds. TAM had a proven track record of beating benchmarks and managing downside ...view middle of the document...
As a consequence, Thompson found herself unemployed at the end of 2008. Without missing a beat, she returned to her hometown of Jacksonville and started TAM. Although the first few years were difficult, TAM gave her a platform to further test and implement her investment ideas. Thompson considered herself a market strategist, and TAM’s initial fund, ProIndex, was designed to achieve returns in excess of the benchmark S&P 500 index while maintaining a risk level consistent with the index. The easiest way for her to maintain and adjust equity market exposure was to “index”
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914-565 | Thompson Asset Management
with timing. Prior to the 1990s, the easiest way to index while keeping trading costs low was through no-load, low-expense index mutual funds. The landscape changed in the 1990s, when Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) became more widely available. The advantage of ETFs over traditional mutual funds was a low-cost structure. Most ETFs were designed to mimic a particular index at the lowest possible cost; annual expense ratios of 0.10% to 0.20% were common. Since the advent of ETFs, passive mutual funds that mimicked an index also started offering low expense ratios, but Thompson decided to stick with ETFs based on her track record of using them in her investment strategy. She back-tested several strategies and settled on using leveraged ETFs, coupled with technical analysis, to determine when to be in the market and when to be in cash. With the success of the ProIndex fund, TAM launched a midcap value fund at the start of 2013. With this fund, TAM moved away from a market-timing strategy and invested instead in actual firms based on value strategies. However, Thompson retained her quantitative methods, relying entirely on numbers rather than company visits, analyst calls, etc. By the end of 2013, the ProIndex fund had about...