I'm Michael Nock...

I have always wanted to be a painter. I love paint, the smell of it, the look of it. I love colour, drawing and mark making. I have spent my life learning the language of art. I dreamed of waking up each day and confronting a blank canvas, of drawing in charcoal and slashing colour across the surface, of picking up my paints and painting en plein air.  School holidays were always about painting the bush out west of Sydney. Fortunately some sensible advice from my father and grandfather caused me to consider building some additional optionality into my proposed career path. "Keep painting," they argued, "but consider also the need to develop financial independence". And so it was for my first degree I went to UNSW in Sydney and studied Accounting and Finance. These however are complimented with a BFA and an MFA from CalArts in California.

I have often been asked how my love of art squares with my interest in finance and investing. The two worlds seem superficially different, and yet each benefits from an understanding of the other.

The art world is about passion, beauty, creativity and problem solving.

So too is the world of finance.

A successful artist must think differently, see things others don’t. The artist must not only be observant and sensitive to the unseen, but also have a sense of how to translate such intangibles into something physical. An artist does not become good overnight. Great art emerges from hard work, practice, a defined process and technique, taking advantage of accidents, a sense of play and experimentation and knowing what rules can be broken and when.

A successful investor must similarly think outside the box, know what is relevant to the decision making process, be capable of responding to the unexpected and change, must have a process and discipline and know how to read the subtle undertones of an ever changing world.

Success in either field demands dedication, passion, a process of abstraction and simplification and the confidence to make decisions without fearing failure.

Some of my most successful investment ideas came to me after I graduated from Art School in the mid 1990’s. Although I had developed a solid foundation with an Accounting and Finance degree in the 1970’s, and prided myself on the ability to spot investment opportunities from the analysis of balance sheets and an understanding of business dynamics, I found the artist approach to problem solving in the finance world allowed me to propose investment solutions which at the time were both unique and lucrative. The ability to reduce facts down to a core, a simplified abstraction, while at the same time playing with intuitive leaps and drawing disparate associations from multiple inputs were skills developed in a creative learning environment which subsequently could be employed in the rough and tumble world of stock and bond markets. I maintain an interest in the finance world because it can be a creative pursuit, an outlet for pitting ones insights and problem solving abilities against an unforgiving market. My passion however is art, and more specifically painting. It has always been important for me, either as a collector of art or as a maker of art.

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