Published by Nan Price on
Oct 31, 2023 12:00:00 PM
John McDermott, PhD, Head of Investments, shares his Symmetry experience.
What led you to a career in finance?
I came to Symmetry in 2005. I started with Symmetry as a consultant after a 21-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard. I was retiring at that time and transitioning to a job as a professor.
I was introduced to Symmetry by Professor Ken French of Dartmouth College. He was familiar with my research and thought I might be a good addition to the team at Symmetry.
I hit it off with Co-Owners Patrick Sweeny and David Connelly back in 2005, and we’ve had a strong continuing relationship since.
What is your role at Symmetry?
My role is to develop portfolios and investment solutions. What I bring to that is, I have a doctorate in finance and I have a master’s also in finance. So, I bring that academic training to the building of those portfolios.
How does the work you do affect Symmetry’s Evidence-Based approach to investing?
At its core, the portfolios I build are Evidence-Based portfolios that are based on the empirical evidence of capital market returns across the world for decades upon decades. And the academic research that has looked into those returns. That really is the core of my job is to make sure that the portfolios reflect that Evidence-Based philosophy.
What do you enjoy most about your job here?
It’s more the idea that I’m helping clients and helping advisors serve their clients. When I came to Symmetry from the Coast Guard, which is all about public service and helping others, that was one of my requirements for the efforts that I would be undertaking after retirement. And what I found at Symmetry is an organization that cares deeply about the success of its clients.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned professionally?
The most important thing I’ve learned through my 40 years of working now. Perfection is the enemy of good. I tend to be a perfectionist in everything that I do, and I just need to be able to know when it’s okay to say enough is enough and we need to move on.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Something I’ve learned from reading philosophy is from the philosopher Seneca, who was one of the Stoics. Seneca advises us to not worry about the things that have occurred in the past. Don’t focus on the things we can’t control. Put all your energies to the focus of things you can control.
We bring that philosophy to our investment portfolios here as well. You can’t control returns, you can control costs, and you can control diversification and risk.
Our firm runs on talent, skill, experience, and teamwork. Watch the Symmetry Spotlight video series to learn more about the professionals behind Symmetry’s client services, marketing, and investment strategies.
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