For the best part of 30 years, Richard Lawrence has served as the Chairman and Executive Director of The Overlook Group, a $5 billion organization founded by Lawrence in 1991 that invests in listed equity markets across Asia. As much an entrepreneur as he is a stock-picker, Lawrence’s success with Overlook has seen him become one of the most respected value investors of his generation. To find out more, take a look at these ten things you didn’t know about Richard Lawrence.
1. His father inspired his interest in shares
Some people end up successful despite their parents. Others are successful because of them. Lawrence falls into the 2nd category. Although his father, Richard Lawrence Senior, can’t take all the credit for his son’s subsequent success, he can rest easy knowing he set him on the path to it. Speaking to ivey.uwo.ca, Lawrence revealed how his father, a money manager, would encourage his interest in stock prices at a young age. “I was originally from New York and my father was a money manager so I started looking at stock prices when I was 12,” he shared. “We had a deal where, if I memorized a poem, he would give me a share in a mutual fund that he ran. It made me interested in share prices.”
2. He has a BA in economics
Considering the field in which he’s built his career, it probably won’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Lawrence has an educational background in economics. After graduating from South Kent School Cum Laude, he won a place at Brown University. Four years later, he graduated with a BA in Economics and Political Science.
3. He likes to give generously
Not everyone has fond memories of their school days, but Lawrence clearly has. In 2013, he revealed his fondness for his alma mater, South Kent School, when he gifted a generous donation towards the building of a new housing block on its grounds. The complex was named the Richard H. Lawrence, Sr. Faculty Village in honor of Lawrence’s father, Dick, who’s remained involved in the school long after his son graduated, even serving as a Trustee on its board.
4. He’s the founder of Proyecto Mirador
Over the years, Lawrence has been involved in any number of philanthropic projects. One of the most notable is Proyecto Mirador, a non-profit organization founded by Lawrence in 2004 that provides fuel-efficient Dos por Tres stoves in rural homes across Honduras. As proyectomirador.org notes, Lawrence was moved to create the project after he noticed how many of the country’s poorer residents suffered lung problems. The problems turned out to be caused by the stoves that were widely used: as most houses didn’t have chimneys, any smoke from the stoves would simply stay in the house. Since its inception, Proyecto Mirador has built over 110,000 stoves and sold over 400,000 carbon credits to fund its growth.
5. He trained to be a broker after college
After graduating from college, Lawrence was offered a position at John Bush and Co, where he trained as a broker and a researcher. Within a few years, he’d climbed enough steps on the ladder to have landed a head researcher position at a brokerage firm. Lawrence credits John Bush (who just so happens to be George H. W. Bush’s brother and one of the founding partners of Fairfield, Bush & Co) for much of his subsequent success, saying that the education Bush provided in the stock market inspired his decision to become more closely involved in the sector.
6. He moved to Hong Kong in 1985
After developing a successful career in the US, things went stratospheric for Lawrence when he moved to Hong Kong in 1985. At the time, it was still early days for the Asian markets; Lawrence’s arrival wasn’t particularly well-timed, happening as it did during the forced closure of the Malaysian and Singapore markets by the Pan-Electric crisis. But Lawrence stayed. After 4 years of observing, learning, and investing in the market, he decided in 1991 to launch his own fund management company, Overlook Investments Limited.
7. He finds inspiration in books
While Lawrence has been fortunate enough to have worked directly alongside some of his mentors (including John Bush (Senior Officer at Fairfield, Bush & Co.), Marc Faber (Director of Marc Faber Ltd. and publisher of the Gloom Boom & Doom Report newsletter), and Jeremy Grantham (Co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist of GMO)), most of his inspiration comes from the pages of books. “There are so many great investment books,” he’s said. “When you read these investment books, you’ll find you have like-minded cousins. They’re like distant cousins because these guys did things in a way that makes sense to you. I have a policy where every other book I read does something to help me in my business. When you see a really good investment book for you, you’ll know it and you’ll relate to it. You’ll piece what you learn from these books together. It’s a journey of discovery to find the components of value investing that really make sense to you.”
8. He’s been married since 1987
Lawrence married his wife, Dee Elizabeth MacLeod, in February 1987. At the time, Dee was a marketing manager in Hong Kong for S. C. Johnson Ltd., a manufacturer of household products, having previously served as a product advertising manager at Apple. Since 2014, she’s served as the director of Carbon Projects at Cool Effect.
9. His son is following in his footsteps
If Lawrence’s father inspired him to develop an interest in stocks and shares, he seems to have worked much the same magic on his own son, Richard I Lawrence. Having followed his father’s footsteps into the industry, Richard currently serves as the Chief Investment Officer at Overlook Investments.
10. He thinks greed is the enemy of success
As offpisteinvesting.com notes, Lawrence has several key philosophies that guide him in his career, number one being that greed is the enemy of success. According to Lawrence, all good investors should have all the money they’ll ever need after 8 years. After that, the motivation that drives them shouldn’t be accumulating more wealth, but the love of the game.