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Paulo Caputo Expect External Events to Hit Your Investment
Paulo Lydijusse CaputoÂ is pursuingÂ anÂ MBA atÂ McGill UniversityÂ (Canada) with a concentration in global leadership and strategy. After graduating with a bachelor of economics fromÂ Faculdades de CampinasÂ in Brazil, Paulo worked for five years atÂ Cyrela Brazil Realty, the largest real estate company inÂ SouthÂ America, acting as a regional controller in his last role. Paulo then spent a summer launchingÂ Uberâ€™sÂ operations inÂ Belo HorizonteÂ (sixth largest city in Brazil)Â before co-foundingÂ Baanko, a social enterprise with the objective of supporting and scalingÂ social-impact businesses in Brazil. At Baanko, Paulo developed an in-house business methodology framed around andÂ alignedÂ with the United Nationâ€™sÂ Sustainable Development GoalsÂ (SDGs).Â Paulo is interested in pursuing careers in scalable technologies and impactful industries,Â with particular focusÂ onÂ AI and entertainment.Â His personal interests include tennis, outdoor activities, coffee-brewing methods and barbecuing. He is theÂ executiveÂ president of McGillâ€™s Desautels Faculty of ManagementÂ One World One CultureÂ Club and was recently awarded with theÂ Mandri-Muggenburg Family MBA Leadership Award.Â Â â€œI really believe in giving back and this is something that I learned since the beginning of my career. For me, this is part of it so call on me for whatever you need and whenever you need it.â€ Paulo Caputo Â Worst investment ever Property insider buys discounted home from his employer real estate firm Around seven years ago Paulo experienced what he called a â€œreal failâ€, meaning in terms of investing, it was not a case in which he could find a way through to recover or minimize his losses. This one was â€œcriticalâ€. While he was working for Cyrela, the largest real estate operator in South America offered staff the opportunity to invest in one of its apartments, under apparently favorable conditions. Cyrela offered to waive all commercial, marketing and transactional fees, which meant a discount on the apartmentâ€™s face value of around 17-20% off the face value of each apartment. In Brazil, to buy a residential property, during the construction period, you only need to pay 30% of the price, then you hand over the remaining 70% after the vendor hands over the key. So lenders give you credit and you pay off the mortgage to them. His focus on all the shiny parts of the deal blinded him to the bigger picture Paulo liked the idea because he felt he was an industry insider who knew exactly what to do. Also, the apartment was conveniently located, so he felt confident about finding potential buyers. His idea was to sell the unit during its construction period, thereby being both an early investor and an early seller. He also felt confident he was investing in something that was valuable at the time and that it would generate a great return. Somewhat focusing on all the good points and so touched by a fair measure confirmation bias, he was expecting to easily find someone to buy , that he would know exactly the right time to exit the unit, and that he would the right price he wanted for it. But things did not pan out that way. Adding to his early excitement was that he was investing in a product that was part of his life, because he was working for the company that was building and selling it. He admitted that social validation was also component of the decision. He really believed in an operation that he was working for and that nothing could go wrong. Reality bites as government crisis darkens market But the political economy of South America, particularly Brazilâ€™s, is always a roller coaster of volatility and Paulo got hit in one of its swings downward, the first episode of declining fortune for the previous government. He explained that investments in real estate involve a very high-end product. So it is high on the chain of products people can buy in their lives. A home is not something you buy every day and it is an item highly vulnerable to outside events, political, economic, and social. Apartments are the last thing Brazilians want to buy at this time So, Paulo tried to sell his apartment several times, involving the entire Cyrela sales force, all of whom he knew and were friends with. But, liquidity in the housing market was frozen. It was not a problem of the product or a problem of the price. It was just that people were averse to taking on a new home. He said when there is such a blip in the political and economic cycle, most people are not going to take on such risk. So buyers wait for the recovery, and in real estate, at least in Brazil, property is a product that is first to be hit, and the last one to recover. So before any buyers are ready again, everything needs to be back on track before you can start to resell apartments or other high-end products. So either you are ready to be comfortable for the long period that you are exposed or you have to cash out completely. Investor forced to sell property back to his employer at a loss Paulo eventually sold the apartment back to Cyrela at a big loss because he was unable to find another buyer. So of the saving he was offered at the beginning, he paid around twice or triple that amount when he exited the investment. Â Some lessons Operating a business and investing in a business are completely different. Paolo really thought that because he was inside a real estate company, had worked in many areas of it, and that he really knew the business, that he would be investor in that business. The signals the market sends are vastly dissimilar from the signs you can read from the inside of a business structure. As a buyer, one can only see a narrow part of the entire picture. Dig deeper if your bias and marketing departments are telling something is good. Investors can really be influenced by explicit and implicit influences. They are always being hit with different messages sent by the market of the people promoting an investment. In Pauloâ€™s case, Cyrela invested a lot in promotions to employees, emphasizing how the discount would make buying one of their apartments a good investment, as were his peers and bosses, who were always sending positive signs that fueled his own confirmation bias â€“ what he was expecting to hear. It is very difficult at such times to see any red flags about possible negative impacts. Talk with people who do not stand to benefit from your potential loss. Talk to people outside the deal, who never bought an apartment, never heard about a stock that you are you trying to buy or sell, and try to explain the business to them. Their probably very good questions will make you think more deeply about what youâ€™re getting involved in. â€œIâ€™m not saying donâ€™t invest, butÂ just sayingÂ try a different path.â€Â Â Paulo CaputoÂ Â Be aware and look for details about potential harmful impacts or events. Paulo never considered that the economic or political context would be so tough on the investment he was making. Not only that, he neither entered his mind nor his decision-making process. Sometimes such impacts can be related to the federal government, sometimes even local government, can have enormous impact on the performance of any impact. Â â€œI think more and more that failure is a part of any success â€¦ now I can see from a completely different spectrum.â€ Paulo Caputo Â Andrewâ€™s takeaways Make sure you understand the characteristics of the sector that youâ€™re investing in. Something very important to remember is whether the sector youâ€™re investing in is a consumer staple or a consumer discretionary item, in terms of sector classification. The whole point of the discretionary sector is that it comprises products that are not used or needed every day, and therefore consumers can delay buying them. These are items such as a car, a house, a condo, even a TV. The difference between discretionary and staple items, such as coffee, or food, is that the latter are those that people keep buying even when there is a recession, although they may go down a bit. But when the economy has a hard time, it is discretionary items that really get hurt. Always be aware of external factors. Investors often forget about external factors. Everything was right about Pauloâ€™s investment. He was working for the company, he had good information, it was a good product, he believed in it, other people around him were making money on it. If things didnâ€™t go sour in the economy or the political situation, Paulo would probably have made a good return. But when external factors hit, they can have a massive impact on your investment and can even wipe you out, especially because they are so often events that you cannot possibly predict will happen. Collated from Andrewâ€™s My Worst Investment Ever series, the six main categories of mistakes made by interviewees, starting from the most common, are: Failed to do their own research Failed to properly assess and manage risk Were driven by emotion or flawed thinking Misplaced trust Failed to monitor their investment Invested in a start-up company So how do you deal with external factors? Manage your risk and diversify. Andrew suggests to Paulo that the common mistake he was talking about was No. 2: Failed to properly assess and manage risk. Paulo probably assessed the risk quite well but as far as managing the risk, that is a different activity. Paulo may have liked this particular investment, but the problem that most people have is that they put a lot of their money into a particular investment. So, theyâ€™re not managing the risk of their overall portfolio. If this was 5% or 10% of the money that Paulo were investing, then he probably could have found a way to work around it and stay with it for a longer time, or he could have just cut his losses without much damage. But particularly when weâ€™re young, itâ€™s hard to diversify, because we donâ€™t have the capital to do that. Donâ€™t be driven by emotion or flawed thinking. Paulo was surrounded by people that were confirming his investment. Being surrounded however is a little different to common confirmation bias, which is that people go out looking around the internet or around brokers or other people to try to find people who agree with their idea. But here Paulo was surrounded by people who agreed, and some of them had made money over the years doing this type of thing. So it was not a case perhaps of them being misleading, there was just no one talking about how it could all go wrong. Â Actionable advice Surround yourself with people that can challenge your thoughts and your assumptions, and you can learn from them every time. Talk with people that you trust and that can provide you with good feedback about your reasoning and can challenge your assumptions. Â No. 1 goal for next the 12 months After his first MBA year at McGill, Paulo wants to do an exchange stint in China. McGill has many partnerships with universities in China and he is fascinated by Asia. His main focus is to keep striving for better understanding of AI to be well positioned for the future. Â Parting words Despite any failure, donâ€™t stop, be resilient, know what you want and strive for it. â€œThere is no path with only success and winningÂ â€¦(Losing) isÂ part of the game. So play the game, bring yourÂ â€˜A gameâ€™â€¦ andÂ inÂ the end,youâ€™re going to win.â€Â Â You can also check out Andrewâ€™s books How to Start Building Your Wealth Investing in the Stock Market My Worst Investment Ever 9 Valuation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Transform Your Business with Dr.Demingâ€™s 14 PointsÂ Â Connect with Paulo Caputo LinkedIn Instagram EmailÂ Connect with Andrew Stotz astotz.comÂ LinkedIn FacebookÂ Instagram TwitterÂ YouTube My Worst Investment Ever PodcastÂ
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