Pursuing Lasting Progress in Emerging Markets®

On Starting Out

Judging from the headlines, it would seem an inauspicious time to start a company. The national rate of unemployment is high; the economy might have recovered from crisis, but growth is tepid, and confidence is low; myriad regulations and taxes supposedly stifle entrepreneurship; and our nation is deeply indebted. Many argue the country lacks the capacity—and perhaps the will—to invest properly in its own future. Whatever the case, it would not seem a particularly hospitable climate in which to launch a venture.

I beg to differ. Contrary to popular perception, I think it’s a great time to start a new business – at this time, and in this country. I think so for two reasons. First, because the economy has been weak for so long, there is an abundance of talented, hard-working people eager for new opportunity. In my career, what success I have known was achieved because I was lucky enough to surround myself with people of the highest caliber. I believe this is the main requisite for success in business: good people, willing to work hard. I am excited to build a company in this environment—I am confident I can assemble a team with the drive to achieve excellence, and together with them, build a worthwhile endeavor.

Second, despite the doubts that hover over the country, I know how privileged I am to start a business here. Throughout my career, I have observed the evolution and growth of Central and East Asia. During that time, the region has transformed itself in a swift and almost miraculous fashion. I have seen how those societies structure their economies, organize their government, and educate their young. I know firsthand that the U.S. has no monopoly on good ideas, and certainly not on hard work. Still, we possess a unique source of economic strength: we continue to maintain a fair, flexible and relatively transparent landscape for business. I have seen how entrepreneurs in other societies struggle not only with bureaucracy, but also with entrenched, opaque and often corrupt institutions. In my experience, such conditions stifle and sometimes pervert an entrepreneur’s otherwise honest ambitions.

I am thankful that the U.S. economy is so very different. I plan to enter an industry that is heavily regulated. I don’t see such standards as burdensome, though: I recognize that bedrock legal structure as the mechanism that delivers fiduciary protections, liquidity, transparency, and reasonable costs to every investor. To the best of my knowledge, there is no equivalent anywhere else in the world, and consequently, I would not wish to work anywhere else.

We are eager to start a new business, and to get back to basics. In starting Seafarer, we have two goals. The first is to build something lasting—to build a team, a process and a culture that will stand the test of time. The second is to create a sense of partnership that will define every aspect of the business. Within the firm, we want to establish a culture of partnership that will draw the best minds in the industry. With clients, we aspire to build partnerships founded in trust. We will manage the firm in a fashion that always puts clients’ interest at the fore. In everything we do, we will ask ourselves first: what is best for our clients? What would a careful and patient investor, in possession of the same facts, expect us to do? What will best help our clients to achieve their financial goals? This approach is straightforward, but it is easy enough to lose focus along the way. As we set out, our commitment is to never lose sight of our two goals, or the destination they imply.

Andrew Foster
The views and information discussed in this commentary are as of the date of publication, are subject to change, and may not reflect the writer’s current views. The views expressed represent an assessment of market conditions at a specific point in time, are opinions only and should not be relied upon as investment advice regarding a particular investment or markets in general. Such information does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell specific securities or investment vehicles. It should not be assumed that any investment will be profitable or will equal the performance of the portfolios or any securities or any sectors mentioned herein. The subject matter contained herein has been derived from several sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of compilation. Seafarer does not accept any liability for losses either direct or consequential caused by the use of this information.