June 21, 2022

Wes Gray: Merging Education, Investing, and the Marine Corps


After spending years going through a tough academic program, one dissertation away from achieving a degree, Wes Gray chose to take a step back and join the Marine Corps. Following five years of service, Wes finished his degree at The University of Chicago, studying under the acclaimed Eugene Fama.

While working as a professor, a cold call from a billionaire in New York prompted Wes to begin moonlighting as an internal due diligence agent. That decision to take on a second job became his inspiration for Alpha Architect – an asset management firm committed to empowering investors through education. 

In this episode, Wes talks with Doug and Greg about why Alpha Architect is abnormal, the method to their madness, how Wes challenged Eugene Fama (and nearly won), how Alpha Architect is responding to today’s volatile markets, and what the future looks like for value investors. 


Key Takeaways

  • [01:24] - How Wes transitioned from professor to founder of Alpha Architect. 
  • [04:50] - Why Wes’ studies led him to be more of a quant than a discretionary investor. 
  • [14:00] - Has a rise in awareness diluted investors’ ability to obtain Alpha? 
  • [19:25] - How Wes explains the recent market volatility. 
  • [22:40] - How Alpha Architect responds to “flows” and market volatility. 
  • [26:23] - How Alpha Architect remains tax-efficient. 
  • [29:37] - What Wes believes the future looks like for value investors. 


Quotes

[27:14] - “One of the problems with the financial services industry is, the best idea, the best strategy in the world, can always be ruined by fees and taxes. And so, you can have a lot of excess returns, but if you give it all up in fees and taxes, what was the point?” ~ Wes Gray

[31:08] - “No matter how you cut it, the valuation of value stocks is the cheapest it’s ever been relative to the valuation of the market or gross stocks more particularly. And so the problem is timing. I have to survive the potential issue of, I go buy value stocks and then all the sudden all the crazy maniac stocks beat me and crush my soul by ten percent a year for the next ten years again.” ~ Wes Gray

[31:57] - “The problem is, if there is a risk that you give up on fundamentals and the weighing machine in the short run, that means you will not get to extract the benefits of the long run. And I always tell people, you really need to sit down and think about your own brain psychology, and if you can’t deal with the heat in the kitchen, get out of the kitchen and just go buy the Vanguard fund.” ~ Wes Gray


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Disclosure

The information in this podcast is educational and general in nature and does not take into consideration the listener’s personal circumstances. Therefore, it is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized financial, legal, or tax advice. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a final decision.