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Graham Griffin
Graham Griffin
Articles (5) 

Interview: Joseph Boskovich Jr. of Old West Investment Managment LLC

Boskovich on faith, family and business as an active manager in the passive age

November 14, 2019

One afternoon in the workout room of USC’s football team, Joseph Boskovich Jr. was approached by a coach with an interesting proposition. Thanks to a well-established alumni association and the pursuit of a business degree, he was offered the opportunity to intern at Bear Stearns & Co. This internship ignited a passion for investment.

As a major client and shareholder of a local bank that was bought out, Joseph Boskovich Sr. came into money in his early 30s, according to his son. Coinciding with his son’s internship, the elder Boskovich found himself in a position with an interest in investment and went for a mid-life career change. This career change saw son and father working together for the first time at Aletheia Research and Management Inc.

After finding success, the father and son duo found two other partners and kicked off their own business in 2008, known as Old West Investment Management. The company was founded on the ideal of being active managers and due to the family’s 100-year history in the Los Angeles area, they were able to start with approximately $15 million in seed capital from friends and family.

As an active manager, the younger Boskovich describes the process of investment as starting with the management team. “As a first principle, we only want to invest in companies where management is aligned with us as investors,” he said. Every day for the last 20 years, Boskovich said his father, and now he, go through every Securities and Exchange Commission Form 4 filing from the previous day. This shows them insider purchases from the company at hand and serves as a starting point for considering investment. “If that CEO thinks a $5 million dollar investment into his own company, where he in theory knows more about that company than anyone else, is a good decision we are going to dig in. We are going to print out the proxy, and we are going to try and see what he does,” Boskovich said.

This type of attention paid to companies allowed for Old West to have some early on success. Boskovich described the first five years of running the company as being very successful. They raised their assets from $15 million to a peak of around $230 million. However, there were struggles along the way as well. Boskovich described problems with the overall culture of the business early on, saying, “We probably hired some people that we never should have hired.” Pushing through this learning curve, the company has found itself in a place of stability with a “great culture” according to Boskovich.

While most would consider the first five years of operations for a business to be the most difficult, Boskovich describes a different situation that he sees. “For us the second five years have been the most difficult,” he said. The problem at hand was not form internal factors. “Passive investment and algorithms are definitely a threat to the active management industry,” he added. During these later five years, Boskovich has seen massive amounts of money pulled from active managers and placed in the holdings of passive managers. However, he is not without hope. He believes that this current trend is a bubble that will eventually pop and, when it does, his holdings are positioned for success.

For Boskovich, the business of investment management is more than work, it is a passion. He never stops, staying up late reading reports and digging into company filings. While this dedication “doesn’t lead to the most balanced life,” he is still grateful for the position he is in. “My faith, my family, and our business. You know, those three things," he said. "I think if you are strong in the first two, the third will take care of itself. If your priorities are right, and on the business side you are doing the right thing, keeping you head down and working hard and keep checking your blind spots, I think you’ll be OK.”

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