Passionately Unpassionate Investing with Toby Birdsell
Toby Birdsell has always found himself where the action is. Three weeks after graduating from West Point in 2002, he married his wife Tricia, and they began their new life together as active members of the U.S. Army. Two years into their marriage, they were deployed on two separate tours of duty to Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
Following his service as an infantryman, Toby decided to transition to the business side of the U.S. Army, more commonly known as the Army Acquisition Corps. Since 2009, Toby has led a multitude of different modernization projects for the army, most recently leading a team responsible for the development of night-vision goggles.
With retirement near the horizon, Toby, whose undergraduate degree is in economics, has applied his passion for economics and personal finance to the way he thinks about his personal investment portfolio.
“I am fairly passionate about being unpassionate about investments. I believe in the tenets of modern portfolio theory and the efficient frontier and diversification,” Toby explained. “I don’t time the market. I don’t invest in specific stocks. I wasn’t with GameStop or Tesla. I try to avoid a lot of that noise.
“I take the path of being a long-term investor, knowing that, in the future, you’re going to have continuous appreciation just as the world at large continues to innovate and increase your earnings.”
Initially starting some 20 years ago with real estate investment trusts (REITs), multifamily syndications came onto his radar nearly three years ago.
“I’ve been investing in real estate for a long time, but I didn’t discover syndications until the last couple of years. It’s just been a great way just to diversify the overall portfolio as you’re looking at passive income streams,” Toby said.
Passive investing is the ideal vehicle for Toby’s real estate investments. However, when considering active investments, he acknowledges that time commitment and expertise are not his strengths. But when it comes to evaluating passive syndications, the time for due diligence is critical.
“I prefer just to be able to find good partners to invest in and let them run with it,” Toby said.“It definitely requires doing that due diligence early on, making sure that you find a syndicator that you trust, who has a good reputation and is someone that you’re comfortable putting a lot of money into.”
The second half of the due diligence process for Toby is not only in selecting a syndicator that he feels confident in, but also in feeling confident in the deals that they pursue.
“I spent a good amount of time reading prospectuses and listening to calls and all of the questions that were happening during webinars in order to understand what I was investing in and trying to understand the market, the location, and all those elements that go into what you’re investing your money in,” Toby shared.
“But once you invest your money, you’re making a long-term commitment to that syndicator that you’re not going to try to pull your money out, and you’re going to be a reliable investor.”
Passive investment income is an essential component of Toby’s retirement strategy. In fact, Toby and his wife Tricia aim to support their entire lifestyle solely off passive income by age 45. So, after a life full of adventures and new locations, Toby is looking forward to a retirement full of travel not associated with the military.
“We want to travel the world. We would love to live in New York City for six months or a year,” Toby said. “Maybe have a part-time job, but really just to have fun, explore the city, and take in the history, the people, the culture, and everything associated with it.”
Toby’s Best Ever advice for other investors:
“Remove emotion from your decisions and invest with partners that you trust,” Toby said. “I think between those two, most people will be well-off in the long run.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.