Richard M. Ennis, the investment consulting pioneer who co-founded the Chicago-based firm that would become industry giant Ennis Knupp & Associates, figures institutional investors globally are having a Wile E. Coyote moment — suspended in midair after chasing Road Runner off a cliff.
The timing of an eventual fall is uncertain, said Mr. Ennis in a recent interview about his memoir — "Never Bullshit the Client" — available this month on Amazon. But "it's implausible that we have asset prices where they are, interest rates where they are, combined with the significant political risk that exists in the world today," he noted.
Mr. Ennis, who retired from investment consulting in 2010, said if he were advising clients today, he'd be telling them — cognizant of the constraints boards of trustees face — to "reduce their equity exposures and their bond durations."
If, instead, he were the sole trustee of an endowment or pension fund, Mr. Ennis said he would be more extreme — selling all stock and reducing the duration of bonds to not more than one or two years, for a very high investment-grade bond portfolio yielding about 2% to 2.5%. Having accomplished that, he said, he would "hang a sign on the door that said 'gone fishing.'"
Mr. Ennis has been fishing — and shooting pool, and ballroom dancing, and studying Buddhism among a host of other activities — for nine years since retiring the day EnnisKnupp was sold to consulting giant Hewitt Associates.
He credits his son, Ryan — a regional director at Dimensional Fund Advisors LP — with convincing him to write his memoir, to meet a "real craving" among younger industry professionals for a "better understanding of how we got to where we are."