JACKSON — Nationally, Medley & Brown, LLC, is a common sight on the lists of the most prestigious financial publications.
In early July, Bloomberg, one of the world’s largest financial news, broadcast and publishing companies, published Wealth Manager Magazine, which named Medley & Brown among “The Stars” in its ranking of the country’s top wealth managers for the fourth consecutive time, making it Mississippi’s only firm to do so. Specifically, the firm appeared on the exclusive list of the nation’s leading independent financial-advisory firms.
In February, Nelson Information included Medley & Brown in its “World’s Best Money Managers” list in two categories measuring performance returns for the quarter ending December 31. In the international balanced/multi-asset category, the firm ranked 18th for its balanced portfolios composite, and placed 21st for its focused equities composite in the category of U.S. growth and value equity.
“Nelson Information does a reasonably good job of looking at everything with a keen, unbiased eye, and making that list is probably what we’re proudest of,” said Tim Medley, CFP, president of Medley & Brown, and a mainstay on annual lists, such as the 120 Best Financial Advisors for Doctors by Medical Economics magazine.
Medley, who has been involved in the investment business since 1967, and has been a certified financial planner (CFP) since 1977, has had his opinions on financial planning and investing published in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Fortune, Barron’s and Investors Business Daily.
Medley’s partner, Cecil Brown, CPA, joined the firm in October 1995 after serving as chief fiscal officer for the State of Mississippi and as chief of staff for former Gov. Ray Mabus.
Medley & Brown, a fee-only investment advisory firm, offers asset management services to some 300 clients, including individuals, families, small businesses, foundations and retirement plans, with portfolios of generally $500,000 or more. According to one government source, Medley & Brown’s portfolio of investments totals roughly $340 million.
“Our firm’s concepts form the basis of the value investing principles pioneered by Benjamin Graham and put into practice with spectacular results by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway,” said Medley, who began following the activities and teachings of these influential investors in 1983.
Since 1987, Medley has jetted to the annual Berkshire Hathaway meetings in Omaha, Neb., which he described as “somewhat like going to Sunday school.”
“You know some of these principles, but you need someone to reaffirm them and you need to better understand them,” he explained. “We always come back sort of grinning with nuggets we found along the way. (Warren Buffet) has been an enormous influence and is the closest thing to genius I know. He takes questions for five hours, and talks about the population of Europe at the turn of the century, the 1900s, and then five minutes later he’s talking about which share of the soft drink market Dr. Pepper has in Boston.”
Medley & Brown’s client assets are generally invested in no-load mutual funds and individual common stocks, with investments allocated among money market funds, U.S. common stocks, bonds and international stocks. The mix: generally 80% mutual funds, 20% individual stocks.
“Every client is a bit different,” said Medley. “Obviously, somebody retired may be more conservative, which calls for an approach different than one for somebody who’s 50 years old and plans to retire in 15 years. That person can afford not to be so concerned with market fluctuation, so we might have more money invested in common stock mutual funds. We have a frame of reference for clients, but we don’t have a precise formula.”
Approximately 20% of the firm’s clients are physicians, whose investment portfolio features unique challenges.
“Physicians have a fairly short earning period, probably 20 to 30 years, and oftentimes those first 10 years, they feel like they should get a bigger house and they’ve got lots of expenses, but the other thing that’s a bit difficult for medical doctors is, unlike other business people, at the end, they don’t have a business they can sell. Whereas if you’re a CPA, then you’ve got a practice you can sell. Even dentists have a practice to sell. Lawyers don’t, but somebody else, having worked 25 years in some business or profession, might be able to sell it for a fairly sizeable number.”
Medley & Brown looks for mutual fund managers who focus on individual companies rather than macro events, such as changes in interest rates or housing prices, said Medley.
“For example, in 1992, there were a lot of reasons not to own Costco, but Costco was a great company,” he said. “If you get the company right, you don’t have to worry quite as much about trends or interest rates or the budget deficits or which political party’s coming into power.”
Medley is insistent on investigating fund management companies the firm uses. “Really learning the culture of an organization is a big part of our research,” he said. “Knowing the company you’re doing business with is just as important as knowing the company you’re investing in.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.