REMINISCENCES of a TACTICAL OPERATOR

After a few weeks of negotiation, on December 3, 2012 I received a contract for execution from publisher Wiley.

Then, I broke my wrist, before I signed it. It was my left wrist, and I’m a south paw. No typing for me, or writing by hand. It took most of 2013 to recover.

I had also started Asymmetry Fund Management, LLC, the General Partner and investment manager of Asymmetry Global Tactical Fund, LP, which was a new hedge fund version of my portfolio.

I was busy, and my wrist didn’t like the keyboard for a long time.

By then, I lost interest, I guess, in writing, editing, and publishing the book.

Here we are eight years later and though I’ve worked on it some, I’m unsure if I’ll publish it.

However, my greatest edge and track record has been my operating in hostile market conditions, especially October 2007 through March 2009. But really, it was more like 2007 to 2012 and beyond.

I outright correctly predicted the market crash we saw during what is now called the “Global Financial Crisis.” In fact, before it happened, I wrote “something will get the blame for it, but it will be just the market, doing what it does.” I said that, because starting in the summer of 2008, I believed we would see a 1973-74 level bear market.

We did.

In fact, it played out very similar as I thought it would. And yes, it’s documented and many people reading this now saw it then. I wasn’t quiet about it.

I made more noise back then.

Maybe it’s why I didn’t publish the book. In 2012 I had another “blog” that was probably more popular than this one. There were far fewer people writing back then, especially with a track record like mine through that period.

It seems so noisy now.

During the 2007 to 2009 crash, professional money managers mainly communicated strategy and tactics on private message boards. I was pretty well known for my contributions on the very best one.

I shut down my old blog, Asymmetric Investment Returns, around 2012 or 2013. I remember saying “I feel like I’m in a glass house and everyone is looking in, but I can’t see out.”

I got tired of it.

Especially tired of reading through a hundred or more emails and comments daily.

I was more popular then.

I had gotten my performance verified by the premier performance accounting firm in 2010 after a full five years. Prior to that, I just didn’t need to have a performance examination. I had my small group of private clients, who were primarily high net worth accredited investors who knew my strategy. More importantly, they knew me as a tactical operator, the trading kind, which wasn’t really a thing back then, except for a few of us.

Yes, after the crash, more “tactical” managers came out of the woods, and we went through years of competing with hypothetical backtests and such.

Most of them are already gone.

I’m not.

I’m still here.

I’m going to be here.

I’ve won the game before I started, just as Sun Tzu says.

I want to share with you how, and why.

But why me? and why now?

Here is a snapshot of my performance history. I just picked a fact sheet that would show my verified performance history. I’m not sharing it to brag, though it’s certainly something I’m proud of. The main parts to point out is the darker black line is my history during the period and it’s compared to the S&P 500 for context. I don’t aim to track, beat, or benchmark the stock index, so it’s there to show what was going on during the time, which I’ll explain in detail.

If for some reason you can’t read the images above, contact us and we’ll send it to you.

I’m also not sharing it to say past performance is a guarantee of future results – it most certainly isn’t.

Past performance never assures future results as each new moment is unique, having never existed before, so each new trend and conditions are like snowflakes.

No two are ever the same.

Nor am I sharing it to solicit investment management. That’s the one thing I’m complacent about. I’ve always wanted to stay like a small fine restaurant, with a skilled chef and talented staff.

We know what happens when a fine restaurant grows and becomes a chain.

We are picky about who we manage money for.

Very picky.

Probably too picky.

It’s just how we roll.

But, we are happy and have what we want, so…

It works.

I’m showing this only because in the paper I’m going to share, with those interested, I’m going to do a deep dive into my thought process and mindset as I was tactically operating through the biggest war of my life.

By the way, the true tactical operators are my brothers and sisters of the U.S. Marine MARSOC and Recon, Navy SEALs, US Army Green Berets, Rangers, Air Force Special Tactics, SWAT, et. al. Those infantryman are the real “Tactical Operators”, but I call what I do a tactical operator, too, and it is. It’s just a very different kind, physically, but maybe not so different mentally, in some ways. We can never fully appreciate the mindset of the US military about police Tactical Operators, but I’ll try my best to do it some justice from my perspective. I was a U.S. Marine, though my tour was cut short by a traumatic injury.

So, here I am, getting what I wanted, to be a tactical operator, but a wannabe in comparison to my brothers and sisters whose service surpassed mine by decades. Oh, and I served as a Sheriffs officer for a few years, too, as I worked my way through school on the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Yes, I’m labeled a Service-Connected Disabled Veteran.

It’s something I’ve never spoke of.

I guess now that I’m turning 50 this year, I’m okay with saying it.

I didn’t take the path most investment mangers did.

Not that I was ashamed of it, but instead because I didn’t want to show any weakness. But, yes, I had to complete my B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. It was advanced accounting, actually, because I took the five or six advanced classes that qualified me to sit for the CPA exam. In Tennessee, we had to have 150 credit hours and those advanced accounting classes. I learned how to understand and apply financial and tax concepts as they relate to a business enterprise. It was enough to discover I wasn’t going to be an accountant or tax preparer, but the knowledge has served me well. Fortunately, the personal financial planning class and investment oriented classes got me interested in another path.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is no more personally rewarding and lucrative career or business in the world than investment management.

I’m a different kind of tactical operator now. These past 20 plus years I’ve been a tactical trader, but I got the term tactical operator partly from knowing a little about what a real tactical operator is, and partly from the most famous trading book ever written:

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, first published in 1923 by Edwin Lefèvre.

It is the most widely read, highly recommended investment book, ever. 

This isn’t that, or anything like it. Jesse Livermore was trading stocks in the bucket shops in the 1920s.

This is my version, which I’m titling Reminiscences of a Tactical Operator.

It’s about my experience tactically operating through what was at the time my second devastating bear market.

Yeah, go figure.

I’ve always done things the hard way.

I became a professional investment manager in the late 1990s, so I immediately experienced a momentum driven boom like no other, then a bust from 2000 to 2003.

I’m a little battle scarred. Nothing like the battles my brothers and sisters have endured on our behalf, but for those of us operating through it, a battle nontheless.

I know, we are sissies in comparison. I’m the first to say so.

It’s still not easy. You’ll see.

Anyway, here is my fact sheet. As I said, I’m sharing it only for you to take a peak at and answer if this performance history is something that you believe is worth reading about.

If after looking at the chart you believe I may know something about tactically operating through bear markets, sign up below to get on the email list to get it when I’m finished, which is hopefully in the next week. This was going to be a singe chapter of my book. I’m only going to share it as a PDF via email instead of posting it here. I hope it will help as many people as possible get through what we are about to experience in the years ahead.

I’ve thought a lot about sharing this with you for a few years now. I hope it helps.

Mike Shell

CLICK HERE to Sign up to receive REMINISCENCES of a TACTICAL OPERATOR when it is published.

Mike Shell is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Shell Capital Management, LLC, and the portfolio manager of ASYMMETRY® Global TacticalMike Shell and Shell Capital Management, LLC is a registered investment advisor focused on asymmetric risk-reward and absolute return strategies and provides investment advice and portfolio management only to clients with a signed and executed investment management agreement. The observations shared on this website are for general information only and should not be construed as advice to buy or sell any security. Securities reflected are not intended to represent any client holdings or any recommendations made by the firm. Any opinions expressed may change as subsequent conditions change.  Do not make any investment decisions based on such information as it is subject to change. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal an investor must be willing to bear. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All information and data are deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. The presence of this website on the Internet shall in no direct or indirect way raise an implication that Shell Capital Management, LLC is offering to sell or soliciting to sell advisory services to residents of any state in which the firm is not registered as an investment advisor. The views and opinions expressed in ASYMMETRY® Observations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect a position of  Shell Capital Management, LLC. The use of this website is subject to its terms and conditions.

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