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Trustee spotlight: Martin Davis

“When it comes to overseas markets I don't invest directly, I leave it to the experts, who are better at managing currency fluctuation,” Martin explains.



Martin Davis is a veteran self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee. 

Martin established his fund in 2001, but started running it himself in 2009, having retired in 1999. He credits the ‘tech wreck’ stock market crash of 1999 and the financial crisis of 2007/2008 as reasons he set up his fund.

Through the process he was able to combine a number of investments in his SMSF. These included managed funds and direct shares.

“I had had an interest in shares from when I first started work. I worked as a civil engineer in Box Hill in Melbourne. My colleagues were all interested in shares. I remember when Woodside shares were a few cents, as well as when Ampol found oil.”

In 1952 West Australian Petroleum (WAPET), a consortium involving the US energy giant Chevron and Ampol Petroleum [now part of Caltex], found oil in north-west WA’s Carnarvon Basin.
 
After his stint working in Melbourne, Davis and his family moved to the Gold Coast in 1971, where they still live. 

Ups and downs


Like any investor, Martin says he’s had his fair share of investments that have outperformed, as well as some that have not met his expectations. The Commonwealth Bank’s shares sit firmly in the first category. 

“I bought CBA shares when they were around $9. I’ve subsequently sold and bought them a few times since then. I also got into Seek and JB Hi Fi early, which did well for me. 

I've stuck with JB Hi Fi over the years and they've been up and down. They are a good growth company. Everyone's saying Amazon's going to hurt them. But I think that’s already written into the share price. They've probably been my three best shares.”

Martin says he’s also weathered share market volatility with surf wear brand Billabong, a share he has held over time. 

“When we moved up here my three sons and I joined the local surf club at Southport. They all became keen surfers and my wife was making board shorts for my sons and their mates.”
 
“At the same time Billabong started selling board shorts and made a huge business out of it. I always said to my wife she should have continued making board shorts, but she was an exceptionally talented teacher, who’s also now retired,” he says.

Trustee tips


Martin says when it comes to running an SMSF in the most effective way possible, an idea is to always keep some cash in the fund. This allows trustees to buy quality shares when they are trading at a discount.

“I've been able to buy certain shares when their price has gone down and I've had the cash to buy them. I keep between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of the fund’s assets in a cash management account,” he explains.

Martin also watches the market closely. “One of the first things I do in the morning is check what has happened in the US, German and UK share markets overnight,” he says.

He makes sure he checks the Australian share market several times a day. “If I'm home I'll check the local market at about 10:30am, when it’s settled down after early trading. I also have a tendency to buy on certain days of the week.”

“I always feel Mondays are a good time to sell and Friday mornings and afternoons are better times to buy. Because on a percentage basis it seems to be the share market goes up on Monday morning and down on Fridays. That’s not a golden rule – but over time it seems to average out like that,” he adds.

Martin also relies on fund managers that specialise in investing in overseas markets to gain his fund’s exposure to global equities. One fund invests in Berkshire Hathaway shares and the other fund is broadly exposed to European and Asian markets. 

“When it comes to overseas markets I don't invest directly, I leave it to the experts, who are better at managing currency fluctuation,” Martin explains.

His other suggestion for SMSF trustees is to keep a close eye on state and federal government policies that have the potential to change market dynamics, because policy shifts can impact industry sectors and the value of individual shares.

Martin also finds the articles on the AMP Capital SMSF community valuable reading. He adds it to the thorough and regular research he does to ensure he stays on top of anything and everything that could impact his SMSF.
 

Would you like to be featured in SMSF News as part of our SMSF Trustee Spotlight Series? 

As part of our ongoing SMSF Trustee Spotlight Series, we regularly interview and feature SMSF Trustees that are active on the SMSF Community.  

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