Welcome to LOWELL, BLAKE & ASSOCIATES. Jim and Susan Lowell founded the firm in Boston in 1974 for the purpose of providing financial advisory services, planning, and support to those who need it (families, non-profits, and foundations – largely in Massachusetts). We have remained a modest-sized firm by choice, as it allows for true collaboration and independent thinking within our ranks. More importantly, our smaller size allows us to deliver what seems to be a unique level of service to our clients, and engenders closeness and trust with them over the long term.
We believe investing is decidedly more art than science. As independent-thinking, contrarian-minded advisors, we do not listen to the vast majority of noise that the world emits, nor do we allow “herd think” to discolor our perspectives. We do our own vigorous research and analysis, and we are proud to partner with an extraordinary team of outside niche professionals when appropriate, allowing us to deliver investment and planning recommendations with high conviction. Investments aside, it has always been clear to us that the most important thing we do for clients is help them build a truer understanding of their financial lives. They know we will always do everything in our power to help their family navigate life’s joys, pains, opportunities, bumps, and triumphs. We love what we do, and we are honored to do it for such interesting, entertaining, special people.
“The road to enlightenment is paved with authenticity, not imitation.” — Alan Cohen
We think we're unique in our manner of working with clients. Internally, our collaborative construct helps us to be unified and consistent. With clients, we are continually educating on investment rationale, market trends, and LBA philosophy. Our investment and account review process is painstakingly individualized, yet we have a tightly constructed set of core investments which are arrived at collectively. Most important, however, is our goal to empower clients with guidance on the entirety of their financial lives, including budgeting, tax considerations, succession planning, and sundry other life challenges.Learn More
A Fiduciary is one who places their clients' interests above their own, with the intention of delivering the most ethical and unadulterated level of service in his/her power. This transparency, coupled with our emphasis on communication, is the essence of how we work with our clients (and with each other). As a result of our focus on relationships and Fiduciary trust, we are quite frequently asked by clients to serve as Trustee on their Trust accounts, thereby becoming an integral voice and support in their broader lives, and in their plans for their family's future. We hold that responsibility dear.Learn More
When we say "resources", we refer to the extraordinary talents of people here at LBA, as well as the deep pool of external minds at our disposal that help us provide a higher level of service than a client could reasonably expect. Specifically, we lean on the wisdom of incredible professionals in the fields of estate planning, tax planning, real estate and healthcare to help us directly support and care for our clients. We have a long and proud tradition of producing our own supporting research, which assures clients that our investment selection and advice is wholly objective, fiercely independent, and full of conviction.Learn More
We invest in companies with strong and ethical management, which deliver products or services that are improving the quality of life of substantial numbers of people (or are poised to do so), and which occupy an increasingly competitive position in their specific market or the general marketplace.
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky
Contrarian (n) – a person who takes an opposing view, especially one who rejects the majority opinion, as in economic matters
We at Lowell, Blake and Associates are among a dying breed that maintains the “old-school” conviction that macroeconomic trend spotting, buying low and selling high, and forming a deep understanding of individual companies is the surest, and safest, approach to achieving consistently above-average investment performance over time.
Psychologically, when a company’s stock price has outperformed the broader market in recent periods, the investing world generally develops a heightened interest in it, whether deserved or not. This “price momentum” can catapult a company into an inflated range of valuation (which may be difficult to sustain if earnings don’t follow suit). In similar fashion, when ‘Mr. Market’ drives a company’s stock price lower, whether for valid or flimsy reasons, many investors head for the exits and ask questions later, thinking it prudent to protect against continued erosion of capital in the investment. The bottom line is that in the wake of a company beating or missing “expectations”, or of a company getting pulled down or up because of some loosely-related piece of news, we often see a gross overreaction and a mis-characterization of what is truly happening at the company itself. In today’s hyper-charged world, where short-termism and attention deficit disorder prevails, and where any kind of news creates spurts and spasms, investment opportunities are sometimes born, or revealed.
Since 1950, average holding periods of financial assets have fallen tenfold, which is a true testament to how modern markets, and market-makers, have become startlingly fickle and restless. More alarming than shortening attention spans, though, is that human beings in positions of influence are continually foregoing “leadership” and the common good for personal advancement, which in turn helps to create an ever-more troubled and inconsistent socio-economic, political, and business environment. Our task is to wade through the cynicism and morass, find some truth, and make educated determinations.
At LBA, the benefit of having a focused equity strategy means that we are continuously thinking about every stock we own. We are not unduly swayed by regular and expected vicissitudes in individual stock prices and broader market movements. Because we know our companies so intimately, our conscious decision is most often to maintain our current stance. From time to time, we will initiate a new position in a company due to its great promise. Conversely, we are not hesitant or averse to severing ties with a company that has very little chance of performing over time (due to deteriorating company fundamentals, unflattering macro trends, change in management, or otherwise). Circumstances aside, our goal is always to grow assets alongside the most appropriate risk versus reward composite for each client, and our buy/sell discipline reflects that primary fiduciary function.
We almost never initiate positions in “en vogue” companies with inflated valuation multiples, nor are we willing to sell stocks of stalwart companies with great balance sheets when they fall out of favor – except in cases where there has been a significant change in the basic outlook for the business. We invest in companies which treat their employees well, use their financial resources wisely, and which have a vested interest in improving products and services for the world’s broad and efficient use.
We constantly talk about trends, and are always trying to qualify and quantify consumer trends, human health trends, and natural resource/energy trends. Our approach has been to spot trends before they enter the general public’s consciousness, analyze their potential, and act accordingly if the opportunity seems exceptional.
We are long-term investors, and do not practice market timing. We research voraciously, discuss at length what is happening (or likely to happen) in the world on a macroeconomic scale, and allow the dots to form the pattern we should follow. Thus has our value-based, contrarian mindset and approach served us well over decades and market cycles.
“The Contrarian makes investment decisions using both judgment and fundamental analysis, and must have patience.”
– James H. Lowell, II
Four times a year we assemble the collective wisdom of a large handful of inspiring, diverse, intelligent people – the Lowell, Blake Investment Committee. All of our participants have had extensive experience as business leaders or investment professionals, so their contributions bring unusual depth and quality to the investment process of our firm.
A primary objective of the committee is to stimulate and challenge the current thinking of LBA account managers, ensuring that we do not become isolated or complacent in how we view things. We are alternately serious, lighthearted, and animated in our discussions, and our meeting agendas are as varied as the broad, diverse world in which we all live. Among the more frequent topics: global political and macroeconomic forces influencing current and future prospects; emerging social trends and their net impact and adoption potential in popular society; specific viewpoints on LBA holdings or companies we are currently interested in; anything else on the brain that will make us all smarter, more informed, and help us to help our clients invest successfully.