Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Spotlight on James Marino Sr of Portfolio Insight

Regular readers may have noticed that I now use Dividend Radar, a weekly auto-generated spreadsheet of stocks with dividend streaks of five years or more. Dividend Radar provides up-to-date fundamentals and added value data, including total trailing returns, a fair value indicator, and trailing dividend growth rates.

I'm collaborating with James Marino Sr and James Marino Jr of Portfolio Insight to produce and maintain Dividend Radar, a free resource for dividend growth investors!

In this article, I'm shining the spotlight on James Marino Sr. We share a passion for do-it-yourself dividend growth investing and co-authored a Seeking Alpha article to introduce Dividend Radar.

Jim Sr, tell us about yourself, your family, where you live, and what hobbies you have.

My wife Kathy and I will be married 53 years this summer. We both grew up in Philadelphia and eventually moved to the suburbs after we were married. Our two children were born in Pennsylvania before we moved to Buffalo, New York, for the next 22 years. We returned to Pennsylvania and settled in Newtown, PA, about 40 miles north of Philadelphia.

I started learning about dividend investing before retiring, but my studies have continued until the present time. I spend my free time working out, playing golf, playing contract bridge at a local club, and for the last 18 months, working with Jim Jr. to build Portfolio Insight. We travel a lot, and our most recent trip took us to Israel for a trip of a lifetime.

I think among the most incredible inventions are becoming a grandfather, enjoying retirement, and learning about dividend investing.

Please share a little about your professional background and where you went to college.

I went to LaSalle University, and I graduated with a BA in Mathematics. Upon graduation, I taught at a local Catholic high school and coached basketball. After three years, we were expecting our first child, and my wife suggested that perhaps I should get a “real” job. The economics were challenging, although the experience was invaluable.

I accepted a position in the actuarial department at the Insurance Company of North America in Philadelphia. I studied and passed a series of examinations, and eventually became an accredited Actuary.

I moved and accepted a position as the company actuary at Merchants Insurance Group. Within eight years, I was elected the chairman & CEO of the company and served for an additional 15 years. During my tenure, we became a publicly-traded company.

As CEO, I also attended the Harvard advanced management program with 140 individuals from around the world. I often refer to this period as the beginning of my education. Sharing experiences and points of view with an international group of CEOs (and soon to be CEOs) was invaluable.

For the last 13 years before retirement, I worked as a Director for Deloitte Consulting, the world’s largest consulting firm. I had the honor of working with many CEOs representing the largest Insurance firms in the US.

What is your investing background? What motivates you as an investor? Who inspires you most?

Like many people, I had a financial advisor. During my retirement preplanning, I started questioning the expenses of having a financial advisor and owning mutual funds. I realized that 1% plus 1% added up to a significant impact on the performance of my portfolio. I decided to focus on reducing these expenses and becoming a self-directed active investor.

My epiphany was learning about dividend investing. I read all the classic dividend investing books, discovered Seeking Alpha, generated my favorite go-to authors, and became a serious student of dividend investing. My studies continue!

What inspired you to create Dividend Radar and to make it free for dividend investors?

As we began to develop our suite of tools on Portfolio Insight, we needed to benchmark our output; in other words, validate that our suite of tools was calculating the correct “answers.”

It sounds simple, but we learned quickly that data providers, websites, and online calculators were not always accurate with their output. So, we decided to calculate everything on our own and then compare it to several benchmarks.

We targeted the widely-used Dividend Champions list (Dividend Champions, Contenders, and Challengers), created by the late David Fish. After 15 months of testing and data validation, we were able to apply a rules-based approach successfully and automatically generate dividend streaks of five years or more. And so, Dividend Radar: Champions, Contenders, and Challengers, was born!

Our license allows Dividend Radar to be used for both individual and commercial purposes. It ensures that Dividend Radar will not be put behind a paywall and embodies the spirit of pay it forward: if a company enhances and releases the list, they must do so under the same (free) terms as the original Dividend Radar. Our approach guarantees that the community will continue to receive benefits for their support in the future.

Tell us a bit about Portfolio Insight? What is your vision and how do you see your role in the endeavor?

Other sites may focus on a specific watch list or offer one or more model portfolios. Portfolio Insight was designed to respond to what we felt was missing for the active investor, namely, answering the question, “How am I doing”?

We decided to focus on the subscriber’s portfolio and develop a suite of tools around three pillars: Performance, Pay, and Opportunities. With our tools, the investor can answer these critical questions:

How is my portfolio (and individual holdings) performing?
When do I get paid, and how much is it?
Where do I find my next opportunities?

We think that we have built a leading-edge technology platform with the most accurate and reliable data and tools that empower the active investor. My role is to support my son’s efforts in building his company.

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Currently, Portfolio Insight is undergoing beta testing. 
If you're interested in being a beta-tester, please visit Portfolio Insight to sign up!

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