By: Jen Rogers
By any measure, Ark Invest is having a spectacular run. With tens of billions of dollars flowing into her thematic ETFs and returns that easily surpassed 100% last year, Cathie Wood has gone from being a relatively unknown investor to one of the world’s best known money managers. Ark even took the mantle for largest active ETF from JP Morgan last year. But don’t call her company a behemoth.
“The word ‘behemoth.’ We are like a startup still and we still have that feel, and I never want to lose it,” she told Yahoo Finance Presents.
Wood doesn’t think Ark’s soaring assets under management have impacted her drive or Ark’s culture. But the pandemic certainly has changed her typical day and the way her firm does business.
“When the Coronavirus started,” she recalled, “I brought the team, everyone in the firm together, at the beginning of every day. And we're still doing that.”
Wood says she gets to sleep in a little longer these days since her commute is “a few feet.” She’s up at about 7:00am and begins reading research.
“8:45, we bring the entire firm together and I think this has helped our cohesion as a firm, which I didn't think was possible, because I thought we were really close before,” she said. “We have an open office. Everybody can hear everything going on. So I didn't think it was possible. But I think what happened is the parts of the firm that were not involved with the investment process, were fascinated by the kinds of discussions we had. And so the whole firm has coalesced.”
Eventually some of the team, moves on to other tasks.
“Most people who are not in research will drop off at about 9:15am,” Wood says. “We continue til about 10:30am. And then every day, we will have between stock meetings where we do a deep dive into our portfolio tracker, which has our scoring system. That was Monday. That is always Monday.”
After over five hours of virtual meetings, Wood tries to get some air.
“I need to go out and walk,” she says. “I'll sometimes do them on video, if they want to watch me walking around. But for the afternoon. And those will be business. They will be company management, they will be analysts, they will be business opportunities.”
Even as the firm has grown, she is trying to keep her time laser focused on the investing side of Ark.
“I would say 80% is on investing,” she says. “And because I am our Chief Investment Officer, it is my core competency. And I've delegated the management of the firm to other very capable people.”
“We're growing right now, including people to go out and represent me,” she added. “So I've gotten used to this. I think my productivity has skyrocketed here. And I think our investing has gotten better because we can pounce on every opportunity, in real time, as we’re Zooming with each other.”
While Ark has a team of analysts, Cathie Wood still loves to dig into earnings season.
“Sometimes we'll have 10, 20, sometimes 30 companies reporting. And what I will do is I'll say, ‘Okay’ to the aftermarket team. ‘Which are getting hurt the most, that's where I'll spend my time.’ And I will go on too and I'll toggle among the conference calls, and listen, particularly to the Q&A. Listen to what's bothering other analysts out there. Remember, I told you we like to see the other side of the story. Listen to what's bothering to them. And think, ‘Have we integrated that risk? Or does that matter to us?’ And usually it doesn't.”
If you couldn’t tell from her 2018 call on Tesla (TSLA) to go to $4,000 in five years, Wood likes being on the opposite side of many in the analyst community.
“They're worried about the 30 basis points and operating margin miss,” she says. “We don't care about that, because that's this quarter.
“We've got our eyes on the prize. It's a five year time horizon. And actually a margin miss is actually for us a good thing. Because what does it usually mean? It means a company has decided to invest aggressively now to capitalize on this opportunity. And we think that's the right thing to do. Those who are not investing aggressively enough — who are buying back their shares, leveraging their balance sheets, paying dividends, leveraging their balance sheets — they're going to be the losers.”
Jen Rogers is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live.
Follow her on Twitter: @JenSaidIt.