How I Work (from home): Investment portfolio manager and futurist Jim Lee - Technical.ly Delaware

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Mar. 30, 2020 12:16 pm

How I Work (from home): Investment portfolio manager and futurist Jim Lee

In this new remote edition of the How I Work series, we ask folks how they manage their work day. Lee talks to us about how he figures out “what happens next.”
Jim Lee.

Jim Lee.

(Courtesy photo)

This is Technical.ly’s How I Work series, in which we ask Delaware’s business leaders about some of the daily routines and strategies they practice. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us: delaware@technical.ly.


Jim Lee says he’s learned that if you want to be in the right place at the right time, “it’s usually helpful to show up a few minutes early.”

Lee is a futurist and uses his background in financial planning to, in his words, “figure out what happens next.” As the founder of the Wilmington-based investment advisory firm StratFI, he advises his clients about opportunities they should pursue and what might not work in the grand scheme of things. He talked to us about how he works and updated us on some of the economic forecasts he made in January.

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You’re a futurist and the founder of StratFI, a boutique investment advisory firm. Give us a brief overview of what that means, and what your day-to-day work looks like? (Also, how does one become a futurist?) 

A few years back, I met a friend at a college reunion and he mentioned a graduate degree program in foresight (University of Houston). That sounded like a whole lot more fun than getting an MBA!

I manage investment portfolios for private clients. So most of my day involves following the markets, doing research, Zoom calls, and emails. With the pandemic going on, I walk downtown to my office each day for a sense of normalcy. Sometimes, it feels like the coughing-zombie-apocalypse.

What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any biz-related work?

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Catch up with the news on my iPad in bed. Look at pre-market S&P 500 futures trading, cryptocurrency prices, and email. Quite literally, this is the first thing that I do every day.

For ongoing projects, how do you keep track of your progress?

There is a “wipe-off wall” in my office where I jot down my big thoughts and keep track of endless to-do lists. At the end of the day, I can sometimes look at the wall and realize that I actually accomplished something.

When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?

As a guilty pleasure, Forge of Empires is good for a five-minute break. I went from “bronze age” to “arctic future” in about two years. Need a new game!

What’s your gear and workspace setup?

At this point, I’m spending more on software and data services than I do on office rent. I love having dual monitors. There is a crystal ball on my desk (gotta have one!), plus a subway map of the future and a chart of long-term financial statistics on the wall.

My best new workplace productivity app is Focus@Will. It produces brainwave entrainment music to create a “flow state” and is usually playing all day long.

Let’s check in on some of these forecasts from early January: What’s your new forecast for the next few weeks? Months? Rest of the year?

My January forecast for the year was completely derailed by the pandemic. There is so much uncertainty with making long-term projections right now. Thankfully, the market timing approach that I use for clients is much more tactical. I’m now in the Morningstar database for Separately Managed Accounts. The StratFI Caffeinated/Decaffeinated Timing strategies are ranked #1 and #4 (of 400) for three-year trailing performance in the U.S. Tactical Allocation category through the end of February.

Check out Lee’s explanation of his strategy via this practice pitch for the now-postponed National Association of Active Investment Managers Shark Tank event: 

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