“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.  We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.  We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
– Aristotle

It’s springtime, which means the Kentucky Derby and racing’s Triple Crown are right around the corner.  Horse racing fans will bicker over who will win “the fastest two minutes in sports” the first Saturday in May and whether we will see another Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) winner.  No matter the outcome, no one expects to see a string of performances like the one racing fans witnessed in 1973.  That was the year Secretariat took the world by storm.

“Big Red” did what no other horse has done before or since – win the three Triple Crown races while setting a track record in each race.  Such excellence doesn’t happen by chance.  Of course, the horse needs to have the talent to accomplish these achievements.  But without a team that built a training program customized to capitalize on the horse’s strengths, the world may never have experienced the greatness of Secretariat.

Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery hired Lucien Lauren to train “Big Red”.  An experienced trainer, Lauren had worked with all types of horses and was not easily rattled.  He expected a lot from the horses under his care, but never pushed them beyond their abilities.  ‘Chenery says Lauren understood Secretariat as an equine athlete. “I’ve always thought Lucien was the perfect trainer for Secretariat,” Chenery told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “because Lucien was hard on his horses and he liked the horse he could really put the work to.  And that’s what Secretariat was.  If someone else had been afraid to stretch his limitations, we might not have found out what Secretariat was.  He might have just stayed a fat, lazy horse.’”

When reflecting on Secretariat’s tremendous racing accomplishments, it’s easy to forget that the horse lost 5 of his 21 races.  Whether his setbacks occurred because of interference from other horses or by racing when not at full strength, his team was able to make adjustments to his training plan to allow him to achieve greatness despite these setbacks.

Much like horse racing, perseverance is needed to make it through the rough periods and setbacks.   Equity markets have experienced large price swings over the last 14 months yet price levels have scarcely changed since the end of 2014.  The first quarter of 2016 has challenged the resolve of many investors, dropping by more than 11% through the first six weeks of the year before recovering much of those losses as we near the end of the quarter.  Economic growth continues to slow and investors continue to worry about interest rate hikes that could further impede this growth.

Despite these conditions, there are companies that remain profitable during periods of economic uncertainty and attractive areas of the fixed income markets.  Our focus remains on building portfolios that stand to benefit our clients throughout all parts of a market cycle.  However, this is only part of the equation for achieving positive financial outcomes.  Our portfolios are constructed to reflect each client’s unique goals, time horizon and risk tolerance as determined in his or her financial plan.  These plans need to be prudently monitored and adjusted from time to time to help stay on track.  This is why regular reviews are important as it gives us additional insight into your unique needs and evolving goals.

For most financial goals, the finish line is really the starting line.  You are investing your money for a reason and we want to help get you in the winner’s circle.

About Chad Sturgill view all posts

Chad Sturgill is a Senior Portfolio Manager for Unified Trust Company. He is responsible for developing and executing investment strategies for individual and institutional clients and in turn making and implementing recommendations to the Trust Investment Committee. He leads the Dividend Growth Portfolio team of analysts and dictates investment strategy messaging.