In this episode of YS Up Governance and Boards Podcast, 3YS Owls Governance Consultants, Ainslie Cunningham and Deb Anderson interview Martin Pretty. Martin is the Founding Director & Investment Manager of Equitable Investors Pty Ltd. Equitable Investors is an independent investment manager focused on identifying listed investment opportunities and engaging constructively with the people behind them to maximise shareholder value. Its directors have over 50 years of combined professional experience in investment markets, focused on those market segments in which higher total returns are most likely to be found, being micro-to-mid cap listed companies, larger strategic opportunities, unlisted growth opportunities & mezzanine or alternative financing. We explore with Martin his entre into the business world through the lens of a journalist, Equitable Investors investment philosophy and their Dragonfly Fund, ESG reporting and investing and the world of finance, equities research and investments.
So my time in both on the research side and working with Thorney Investments, I guess what I learned from working with the people that I worked with was that the best opportunities in the way I see the world, everyone's got a different view, but the way I see the world is when you invest in smaller businesses with a lot more upside in terms of the potential growth and value uplift for those businesses, you can get to know the businesses and get close to the people running those businesses, rather than sitting there at a screen and just reading ASX announcements and not really having the context of what's behind them and the quality of the people with real ambitions driving it.
And also, part of that philosophy is to get involved and where you can, assist the company, communicate with the company to ensure that they're focused on the things you believe they should be focused on, or they're aware of the opportunities that you can see. I believe that over time we've seen that that's paid off in spades in terms of being not necessarily an activist investor, not trying to oppose current regimes or break things apart, but to be involved and be constructive and try and collectively work for value maximization. So that's probably the philosophy behind Equitable Investors and our fund, Dragonfly Fund.
Martin established Equitable Investors and launched its first fund in 2017 after serving four years as an investment manager with Thorney Investment Group. Martin is also a non-executive director of Centrepoint Alliance Limited (ASX: CAF), a non-institutional wealth advice business, Scout Security Limited (ASX: SCT) and Spacetalk Ltd (ASX: SPA) . Prior to joining Thorney Investments as their Investment Manager, Martin headed equities research teams at both Bell Potter and Investorfirst (now known as Hub24 Limited). Earlier in his career, Martin was a finance journalist for The Australian Financial Review and Investorweb and subsequently contributed to publications including The Australian, Smart Investor and Eureka Report.
Scout Security Limited (ASX: SCT) sells the Scout Alarm, a self-installed, wireless home security system that is making security more modern, open and affordable. Scout was named “Best App-Based Security System” in 2019 by US News and World Report. Scout’s design-centric offering gives users complete flexibility around connected home security, allowing the system to integrate with other best-in-class IoT devices and offering flexible monitoring options. Scout is an official partner of Amazon Alexa, Google's Assistant and Samsung SmartThings. Scout is also an Amazon Alexa Fund portfolio company.
Spacetalk Ltd (ASX: SPA) (formerly known as MGM Wireless Limited (ASX: MWR) is a technology company that designs and develops breakthrough technology, software and wearable devices that enrich connections between families, schools and society. The Company is recognised as a global leader and pioneer in socially responsible technology for schools and families. Everything we do is built on our unshakeable desire for families to feel safe and secure so that they can live with freedom, independence and joy. As reported by the Motley Fool, the company announced that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) would be selling MGM’s Spacetalk device on its platform. Closer to home, MGM Wireless boasts sales partnerships with companies such as TPG Telecom Limited (ASX: TPG).
Centrepoint Alliance Limited (ASX: CAF) is a publicly listed company and one of the largest independent financial advice groups in Australia. CAF has a network of ~1,830 advisers that touches ~$25b of client funds, including $3.2b of Funds Under Management or Administration (as of last public report).
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