June 2022

We probably all have a karaoke burn story. Mine came about on an après ski evening when I decided (allegedly under the influence of one glühwein too many) that I would offer my version of Is this the Way to Amarillo to the Saalbach audience. Now, the thing with this song is it looks so easy – Tony Christie cruises through it with the charm of Tom Jones, the smile of Adam Levine and the sass of Bruno Mars, and it all seems distinctly doable. Here’s the catch: it’s not all chorus and sha la la! What that means is, if you know the chorus, it doesn’t mean you can sing the song. So I landed up hemming and humming my way through the verse until I got to the chorus…which I then belted out into a new stratosphere of indignity (I am a pioneer in this domain, if nowhere else).

The outcome of this, beside the scarring and dented friendships, was the realisation that there is something comforting and familiar about a chorus; it can lull you into a sense of security. And if you think you’re immune, see if you can read this without getting caught:

Sweet Caroline (pah pah pah)…

Good times never seemed so good…(sogoodsogoodsogood)

I’ve been inclined (pah pah pah)…
To believe they never would
But now I…

You know how it goes…and it will probably be in your head for the rest of the day and for that I apologise.

So, where is this going; what does it matter that a chorus draws you in and inspires you to sing along, lulls you into a sense of belief that you can hold this space indefinitely?

Firstly, about the singing:

Professor Sarah Wilson, from the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne explains what happens to your brain when you sing:

‘Singing offers a range of neuro-protective benefits, acting as “a form of natural therapy.” As well as activating a range of networks associated with movement, listening, planning, memory, language, and emotional networks, it also augments social bonding and empathy. In the act of singing, we activate our reward network which leads to the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine.’

She goes on to say that these benefits can be triggered by both singing and just thinking about singing. So if you don’t feel comfortable breaking into song during an asset allocation meeting, try just thinking about it instead.

Secondly, about the chorus:

A chorus brings familiarity and comfort. Almost all investments will, at some time, offer you a chorus. The chorus accesses the overarching experience and tone of your investment and has the power to grab your attention and clearly express the message that the investor wishes to hear. Simply put, your investment behaves in a way that resonates with your expectations and leaves you feeling relaxed and harmonious.

BUT!! Remember that the chorus does not last and it’s important to realise the meaning and importance of the rest of the song.

Here’s an example: Gryphon’s multi asset funds are heading into the chorus, the part that allows investors comfort, harmony and peace. The table below indicates the ranking of the Gryphon Prudential Fund relative to its peers as at the time of writing versus the fund’s ranking at the peak of the equity run, i.e. 02 March 2022. (Bear in mind that this fund has held no equities since August 2018, and given the run that equities had, the outcome should not be surprising or unexpected.) The return of the fund is also shown.

A chorus is catchy and that’s when it’s easy to get caught up and think this is where I want to be. However, the song must be understood and appreciated in its entirety, not just the catchy bits – the complete melody and message is the critical to  any song.

Thus we say that the philosophy is the most important part of any fund. Understanding the philosophy of a fund and how it will perform through the highs and lows is critical to the appreciation of what will be experienced along the way.

The band will play on, there will be verses that are new to us and there will be choruses that we enjoy. We are proud of our current chart topper and would be delighted to teach it to anyone who may be interested.

In conclusion, speaking to the simplicity that is the cornerstone of our business,

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”

— Sun Tzu