At our annual conference a few years back, Jack Burney, the company’s founder and namesake, told me the story of how he founded the company. The year was 1974 in Falls Church, VA and he walked into the office to register an investment and wealth management business as an RIA. The clerk told him that nobody had ever registered such a business in Virginia and had to look up the paperwork. As a result, Jack says that his company was the first to register as a fiduciary in Virginia.
I fact checked the story and learned Burney Company was the second such company. Impressive nonetheless!
Jack was a pioneer with his stock selection process but was just as much a pioneer in putting client interests first. For him, it was obvious any investment advisor should be doing what is in their clients’ best interest.
That is why I always appreciate the opportunity to go to our annual conference and learn from Jack. In recent years, we travel to him in Newport, RI. We get to enjoy a lobster roll or two out of the trip, but the memorable part is the “Pick Jack’s Brain” session of the conference.
Jack is intensely focused on security selection and company culture. Culture was an especially important topic this year as an entire conference session was dedicated to that topic. As investment trends change and businesses adapt by offering financial planning services, keeping the focus client centric is as important as ever.
That leaves plenty of room to focus on investments, too, and Jack talked about the early impact Benjamin Graham had on him for his investing philosophy. An engineer by training, he was drawn to Graham’s idea of using hard data and analysis in his stock picks. Or, as Jack joked this week, “Benjamin Graham was a smart guy because he agreed with our approach.”
Jack is often the first email in our inbox, talking about factor correlations or laying out the investment case for a particular stock. The annual conference reemphasizes how impactful it is to have a pioneering figure in this business so involved in the company.