The Enso

The ensō is a zen concept. It is an attempt at drawing a circle in a single brushstroke. Sometimes it ends up looking like a perfect circle. Sometimes it doesn’t. I didn’t draw the ensō depicted here. I paid $15 for a vector image. But you get the idea.

The ensō can be read as a metaphor for life.

The ensō can also be read as a metaphor for a financial plan.

And as a metaphor for an investment portfolio.

Conceptually, at the highest level, all financial plans and investment portfolios are after the same thing: the growth and preservation of wealth. Some appear rushed and hurried in their construction. Some flow beautifully. Others are overly finessed, and the lines wobble accordingly. Still more appear incomplete from a distance, but are “good enough” in that they remain recognizably circular.

One of the things that has struck me in my career is that much financial commentary obsesses relentlessly over whether and how one might draw a perfect circle. Don’t get me wrong here. The pursuit of the perfect, continuous circle is a worthwhile intellectual endeavor. In fact, if you are particularly good at drawing these circles, it can make you a lot of money.

But for most individuals and institutions, perfect circles are beside the point.

In my view, the growth and preservation of wealth is not a problem that you solve. It is a journey that you take. The journey is about process. Yes, there are answers at times. But frequently, on close inspection, simple answers collapse into a muddle of assumptions and exceptions. This is very zen. And it’s exactly why I’m striving to evoke zen vibes here.

The journeys we take (or consider taking) to grow and preserve wealth are what I’m interested in exploring on this site. I will do this mostly in the language of plain English, rather than the language of quantitative finance. There are plenty of gifted writers and analysts out there doing the latter, and doing it far better than I could. I hope to reference them often. While I am conversationally fluent in quantitative finance, it’s not my native tongue. My hope is that in looking at finance through a different lens, I might generate useful insights for readers who are more accustomed to “traditional” discussions of these topics.

I should also state clearly that this site is an experiment in building a proper “platform” or “brand.” Expect some grifting eventually (though probably not any time soon).

You can expect some swears and snark, too, for the same reason that zen teachers sometimes beat their students with sticks.

Finally, I am very interested in your ongoing feedback, preferably via my @demonetizedblog Twitter account.

It is nice to have some company on a long journey.