Interview With ThirtyNorth Investments' CIO Blair DuQuesnay

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ThirtyNorth Investments

Q&As and Interviews

Interview With ThirtyNorth Investments' CIO Blair DuQuesnay

Shauna O'Brien Dec 02, 2014

We recently had the opportunity to speak with ThirtyNorth’s CIO Blair DuQuesnay. Below, Blair overviews her investment philosophy and offers some financial tips for millennials.

Insights from Blair DuQuesnay I see you just joined ThirtyNorth Investments last year; what was it about the firm that made you want to leave the company you founded to join their team?

Blair DuQuesnay: I founded Ignite Investments and Planning, LLC after I moved from NYC to New Orleans in 2011. After a month-long search for a firm in New Orleans to join, I decided to found my own firm. New Orleans is a much smaller job market than NYC, and I was looking for a very specific position – RIA only, fee-based, client-facing, with a focus on financial planning and investments. I originally met with ThirtyNorth a year prior to joining the firm. At the time, there wasn’t a spot for me on the team. I knew then that I really liked the people at the firm and would enjoy working with them. A year later, I was just getting Ignite started, and the Managing Principal of ThirtyNorth, Suzanne Mestayer, called to tell me that the CIO had left the firm. She wanted to know if I was interested – which of course, I was. So here I am. All of my Ignite clients (a handful at that time) came with me to ThirtyNorth. How would you describe your investment philosophy? What instruments do you prefer? (mutual funds, ETFs, etc)

Blair DuQuesnay: I describe my investment philosophy as agnostic. I believe that the market return is often a good return, and that it is available to investors if they will take it. I use mutual funds and ETFs to achieve broad diversification, globally. I use both passive and active strategies, depending on the asset class. For example, active management is prudent for municipal bonds, where the market is traded by brokers over the phone, rather than on an exchange. The devil is in the details with passive management. Not all commercial indexes are great investments, and many have been created to sell ETF and mutual fund products. It has been a fairly strong market for that last several years; how do you approach your investment allocations and explain rebalancing to clients?

Blair DuQuesnay: Rebalancing is the only sure way to buy low and sell high. Since U.S. stocks have performed so well the past three years, we are naturally selling some to rebalance portfolios. Year to date, international stocks have performed poorly, so we are buying more when rebalancing. The most important thing investors can do is remove emotion from their investment decisions. Fear and greed are equally damaging to your financial health. There has been a focus on getting millennials to embrace the stock market. How are you and the firm approaching younger investors?

Blair DuQuesnay: Before investing, there are several important financial hurdles for young people to accomplish. First, pay off all consumer debts (credit cards, car loans, and to a certain extent student loans). Then, they need to save an emergency cash reserve of six-to-12 months of living expenses. Next, try to max out 401k and/or IRA contributions. These are high hurdles for a lot of milliennials, so there’s no surprise they are not investing in stocks. We engage with younger clients through technology and communications. We have an iPad app for checking investment performance, send regular email communications, and have a decent presence on social media. How would you describe your normal working day?

Blair DuQuesnay: I try to start each day with my yoga practice at 6:30am. That means I arrive at the office between 8:30-9:00am. We have a weekly firm meeting to discuss business development and important administrative items on Monday morning. On an average week, I have three-to-four client meetings and one-to-two prospect meetings. When I’m at my desk, I could be doing investment research, trading, writing blogs or our monthly / quarterly publications, updating and sharing on social media, or any of the endless jobs I have as Chief Compliance Officer.

The Bottom Line

For more information on Blair, be sure to check out

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

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