Get out your friggin’ checkbook, because these guys are ready to take it and put it to good use. And when you’re 60 or something, you’re going to have a pile of cash to spend on stuff that the elderly need, like Viagra. But seriously, Thrasher Funds, which manages a mutual fund and a privately held, pooled investment vehicle is looking at you, or should we say your money, as a yet untapped resource for investment. This is because you’re young, have more money than previous generations your age, and don’t have the slightest clue what to do with it.
Don’t know what a stock is? They’ll explain everything you need to know— even on YouTube and MySpace—in order to get you to give them at least $100 to start, then a minimum of $50 a month from then on. Sure, they sound like used car salesmen, but that’s hardly the point. They’re taking investing, which ultimately is a smart thing to do, and making it something you want to do.
“When people start talking about investments or retirement, you picture some old guy with grayish hair walking down the beach with his chinos rolled up, trying to figure out how to pay for that boat,” says James C. Perkins, Jr., founder and CEO of Thrasher Funds. “We know people have interim goals, like buying a first house or car. We don’t want people to wait until it’s too late to get involved in the equity market, because you really can’t catch up with the phenomenon of compounded interest.” What Perkins is trying to do is take away some of the barriers. He works on a lot of educational programs, and his plan is really accessible because the initial investment levels are so low. Ultimately, he’s trying to get younger people to save so they’ll have a chance to retire, and possibly buy a boat and wear those chinos.
Khalid Reede Jones, Thrasher’s COO and General Counsel, says, “I think that a lot of the investment community are people who take for granted the basic building blocks of some of these concepts. We didn’t want to put the cart before the horse, we wanted to create a low-stress environment where people could learn about money.”
When you think about people managing your money, you tend to think old and unstylish. These guys are anything but that, and they have a small collection of tattoos (and a larger collection of eyewear) to prove it. Perkins manages portfolios from behind white Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and one of his tattoos (the words “As a Man Thinketh,” inked by Scott Campbell) peeks out from behind his shirt collar. Jones is partial to fitted suits and custom ties, and his cuffs usually cover the small clubs inked on his wrist. And Megumi Yamamoto, who manages investor relations, marketing, and operations for the company, may not have ink but she adds a dose of chic to the office. Stylish? Definitely. Intimidating? Never. They aren’t going to treat you like a moron because you have questions or dread giving up even pennies of your pay check to savings. “Our biggest thing is not having to alter your lifestyle to get involved, and that resonates with people,” Perkins says. “We want people to think about their Manolo Blahniks and also their shares in Thrasher Funds.”