Dear Friends of Cheviot,
Today commemorates the 25th anniversary since Cheviot’s Principal and Senior Portfolio Manager, Darren C. Pollock, worked his first day at Cheviot Value Management. We would like to take a moment to celebrate Darren and reflect on his journey and the impact he has had on our firm and clients. For Darren, who has had a hand in everything written by Cheviot for the past 25 years, this email will come to him as a surprise.
Darren’s passion for finance and economics, market history, and investor psychology has guided our investment portfolios through some of the most volatile periods in stock market history, including three of the greatest stock market declines since the Great Depression. Thanks to Darren’s portfolio management acumen, our clients’ investment portfolios avoided calamity in bad times, and in good times, Darren has steered us to reliable growth. This has been accomplished while maintaining our essential goal: Deliver financial peace of mind throughout whatever financial environment we are in so our clients can sleep well at night. As a colleague, Darren has consistently inspired and supported the Cheviot family with his unwavering commitment to excellence, fostering a collaborative and engaging work environment that has helped shape the firm’s culture and success. Here we share some of his personal background as we honor his achievements and contributions to Cheviot over the past 25 years.
Darren’s journey into the world of finance began at the tender age of 13 when his grandmother introduced him to investing. This sparked an insatiable curiosity, leading him to devour the newspaper’s daily business section and later to sneak finance books into his high school classes. And to be funny, in high school, Darren kept a picture of Warren Buffett in his wallet. His early fascination with market history and investor psychology eventually led him to connect with a fellow student of the market, Cheviot’s founder, the late Fred Marks.
When Darren first approached Cheviot, there were no job openings at the firm. But his understanding of Cheviot’s operations, his like-minded way of thinking and investing, and respect for Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy impressed Fred. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Fred created a position for Darren. Over time Fred would say with a smile, “The day Darren walked in the door was the best day in Cheviot’s history.”
First as an investment analyst, then within a couple of years rising to the position of Portfolio Manager, Darren has been an integral part of Cheviot since 1998. His safety-first approach to investing is inspired by numerous investors, including Buffett’s teachings and those of Buffett’s mentor, Ben Graham. Darren takes pride in spotting risk where others don’t – to help us avoid it. This has helped us navigate around extreme bear markets, including those in 2000 through 2002, 2008, and most recently in 2022.
After a stellar performance in the early 2000s, where Cheviot clients were 18% to the positive while the S&P 500 was down 38% and the Nasdaq was down 67%, Darren was offered a prominent position as co-head of equity investing at a large and prestigious investment firm. However, his loyalty and commitment to Fred and the Cheviot family of clients led him to decline the offer. Cheviot’s unique investment philosophy – the rational approach to buying high-quality businesses at attractive prices – was the philosophy that his grandmother espoused and was a big part of why he stayed at Cheviot. Lucky for us!
Besides early suitors, Darren’s expertise, including foreseeing the collapse of the housing bubble before 2008, has not gone unnoticed. His insights are sought after by leading publications like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Barron’s, The Financial Times, CNBC, and others. Alan Abelson, long considered the dean of financial journalists, described Darren as “a manifestly bright fellow,” a “seasoned, risk-conscious portfolio manager,” and “a battle-scarred market vet.” For years now, financial journalists have asked for Darren’s take on the words and actions of Warren Buffett. And during an evening spent with another of Darren’s intellectual and investing heroes, Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger, Charlie praised Darren’s investment acumen and the client-first culture within Cheviot.
And Darren is just as well-respected by our clients and colleagues alike. We at Cheviot know Darren to be an excellent investor, owing to his decades of study and wide-ranging knowledge of financial markets, economics, and portfolio construction. He is also a true intellectual, perpetual student, and an exceptionally thoughtful person. Darren is positively logical and rational and utterly devoted to the financial health of our clients. He’s also the best business partner and friend anyone could hope to have.
Darren’s story serves as an inspiring reminder of how passion can lead to expertise which can lead to a fulfilling career. We know Darren remains grateful for his grandmother’s wise counsel (as well as his family’s support), and we at Cheviot remain grateful to Darren for his careful stewardship over the many years he has been at the helm of Cheviot’s investments.
Thank you, Darren. Here’s to the next 25 years and beyond.