The story of Francis Cho is a lesson to people who look at obstacles in life and allow such to ruin their progress. He is someone who took his destiny in his hands and through dint of hard work; self-belief and perseverance, he was able to get to his enviable height in life. He looked around his surroundings in Allahabad and realized the limitations that surround him with the capacity of keeping him permanently down for life. He did not fold his arms to bemoan his poor faith, rather he took the leap into a future that he is not certain of. Life is a risk and only risk takers make it in life. The higher the risks you are ready to take, the greater the accolades that will come your way; that is the lesson from the life of Francis Chou.
Not much is given about the family background of this successful business savvy mind. The details about his love life and family will probably be for the future. But even at that, his strides in the business world has made a topic of discussion at the topmost level. He is a prudent manager of resources and men.
The story of rags to riches of Francis began at the age of 19 when he left Allahabad, his native India for Canada in 1976. Talking about his level of education at that point in time, he came to Canada with only 12th standard education. On getting to Canada, he started work Bell Canada in the position of a telephone repairman.
The urge to make it in life made him look to other areas where he can make it better in life and it formed the basis of his involvement with the works of Ben Graham Intelligent Investor. He read everything about Graham that he can lay his hands on in print. Unlike several others that are not action takers, it was credited to Francis that he took the bull by the horns and made practical efforts towards actualizing what he had read that would transform his life.
Fully aware that the job of telephone repairman will not make him realize his dreams of leaving India for Canada and on the strength of what he has just read about the intelligent investor, he took the leap and with the collaboration of 6 fellow workers, an investment club with a capital base of 51,000 dollars. That was I the year 1981. Within a space of five years and after prudent management strategies, the capital base rose to 1.5 million dollars.
Departure From Retail Canada
He left Bell Canada to become a retail analyst under the umbrella body of GW assets. He met a fellow Indian who is also a notable investor in the person of Prem Watsa. The association here could only last 18 months before Cho moved on for greener pastures. His search landed him on the stable of Prem Watsa at Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. He is one of the original investors on this platform. There has been no looking back ever since that episode. It has been the rise and rise of this investment guru.
Cho has a keen eye to where the money is. He is not satisfied at the gains made from the investment club, the drive in him made him convert the club to a mutual fund which was registered as Cho Funds. He operated two funds for a long time. He has the Chou associates fund with an annualized turnover of 11%. The Cho RRSP is faring better with a 12% annual return. Not yet done; this enigma in the 2000’s added three more funds- Asia Fund, Europe Fund, Bond Fund.
The US Market
Chou has made appreciable strides in Canada. So in the year 2010, he started two funds in the US; the Chou Equity Opportunity fund and Chou Income Opportunity Fund. His style of investing is the value style and he has kept faith with it over the years even in the misfortune that befell him in 2008. He was true to his type as he bounced back in 2009.
His Style Of Business Operation
Chou has three basic styles which he uses to make have his way in the world of business. He has kept faith with this style over the years. No matter the challenge, he is confident that he will win with any of the styles. Let us look at a list of the powerful three that has sustained Cho to this point in his business career:
- Graham method of net-nets.
- Special Situations
- Buffett style
The above are the three that have performed the magic for Cho over the years and which is still relevant to him today.
Today, he is the President, Chief Executive Officer and Portfolio Manager at Chou Associates Management Inc. He holds several key positions in the group. He has eyes for the minutest details; nothing must waste; every resource must be perfectly utilized for the gain of the company; no wonder he has been nicknamed the stingy investor.
Net worth: Not given
- Occupation: Fund Manager
- Age: 62
- Year of Birth: 1957
- Place of Birth: Allahabad
- Gender: Male
- Parents: Not Disclosed
- Girlfriend /Spouse: Not Given
- Ethnicity: Indian
- Nationality: Indian; American-Canadian