Bryan C. Hinmon

Chief Investment Officer

Meet The Manager: Michael Olsen, CFA

Mike Olsen joined our portfolio team this year after 14 years working at our sister company, The Motley Fool, LLC. Mike is an incredibly sharp investor and entrepreneur with a deep understanding of our investment process and our business operations. He also has a knack for making us laugh with his witty observations of everyday life.

I’m thrilled to have Mike on our team, and I hope you enjoy getting to know him. Without further ado, here he is…


My name is Michael Olsen, and I’m a portfolio manager at MFAM.

How Long Have You Worked At Motley Fool Asset Management?

I’ve been a professional Fool for almost 14 years now. I originally worked for our sister company’s publishing business, most recently as lead advisor on dividend and UK stock-focused newsletters. But at MFAM, I’m one of the new guys. I’ve been here for about a month.

How Would You Describe Your Investing Style?

It’s relatively simple on paper, and a little bit harder in practice. I like to own a relatively small group of what I think are very high-quality companies, at reasonable prices, and for extended periods.

I try to take a skeptical eye to conventional wisdom in my analysis—buying companies whose advantages are compounding and/or under-appreciated.

I’m slow and thoughtful. Where many people try to think about things in black and white, I think probabilistically—why and how should something happen, and what’s more or less likely given a view of history.

What’s one common mistake you’d like to see investors avoid?

Falling in love. Too often, we start to identify with our investments or a given point of view.

We become religious or ideological as if there’s some part of our self tied up in a way of thinking, or a comapany/investment. We put up defenses. We’re predisposed to biases, and we miss what in retrospect might have been a great investment opportunity or a risk.

Investing and business can be ideological, but an examination of the opportunity shouldn’t be.

What’s One Investing Story You’re Watching Closely?

I’m very interested in the ongoing evolution in the media (whether we’re talking about music or traditional), the ad, and telecom spaces—and the increasing convergence between the three.

With the adoption and emergence of new media platforms, mobile technologies, and the cloud, there’s a prevailing sentiment that the old line companies will be left behind as newer platforms emerge. I think that sort of thinking, a zero-sum mentality, misses a lot of the nuance.

In the emergent companies and old line, there’s a lot of opportunity.

What’s Your Favorite Sector or Company To Follow?

I wouldn’t point to a specific sector, but instead, a thematic view.

As investors, we’re kind of amateur behaviorists. We’re observing how and why people, companies, and management make good or bad decisions. And so I like to observe the history of great and horrible businesses—what works from an empirical perspective, what doesn’t, and why/how was this foreseeable.

More than anything, as investors, we’re in the business of trying to create replicable successes. And so I’m always asking myself, “how can we improve the odds?”

How Would Your Mother Describe You?

I don’t know! I’d like to think she’d say I’m thoughtful, objective, caring, capable of seeing others’ point of view. A good friend to people, and there for those that I care about.

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