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Why Was the Value Investing Congress Invented?

March 20, 2013 2:39 pm
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John L. Schwartz did not plan on producing a financial conference. As the founder of CME, Inc., a provider of clinical information to medical professionals, he helped create and deliver hundreds of conferences and trade shows every year.

When he sold the company in a nine-figure all-cash transaction, he thought he was done with the tradeshow business. He was wrong.

“When I started this many years ago, I started it because Whitney [Tilson] had been managing money for me for many years, doing very well,” Schwartz, the Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Schwartz Tilson Information, told Benzinga. “I said to him, ‘I’d like to learn how to do this well. I’m not an investor. What’s the best meeting to go to?’ He said there wasn’t any. I had made my fortune in the conference and tradeshow business and said, ‘Let’s start a meeting.’ That’s how it got started.”

Now that the Value Investing Congress is in its eighth year, Schwartz said that he makes “a lot fewer complete idiot mistakes.”

“I still make a few of them, but not quite as many,” he joked. “And I’ve actually had an increasingly good track record.”

In short, Schwartz said that he teamed up with Tilson to create the Value Investing Congress in order to learn more about investing.

“Everybody comes to our meeting to learn,” he said. “The wonderful thing is that we have a lot of smart people, and they talk with one another, they share ideas, they ask very good questions.

“I can’t tell you how many of our speakers have said, ‘Gee, that was a great question, I’ve never thought of that before.’ I think that’s one reason people like to come speak for us is that they get challenging questions and are forced to look at things from a whole different angle that they may not have thought of themselves.”

Most investors come for the trading ideas, but some have used the networking opportunities to advance their careers.

“You just meet all kinds of fascinating people at our meetings, make friendships, get good ideas and build relationships,” said Schwartz. “I’m still very friendly with people I met at our first meeting eight years ago. People get jobs out of it — people’s lives are quite positively impacted.”

Scheduled to take place on May 6 and 7, 2013, the Eighth Annual Spring Value Investing Congress will feature a number of prominent speakers, including Whitney Tilson, David Nierenberg and Guy Gottfried.

Benzinga readers can save $1,100 off the entry price if they register and enter code S13BZ10 by Monday, April 1.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis@benzingapro.com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

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