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I created VALUEx Vail after attending VALUEx Zurich/Klosters, organized by my friends Guy Spier and John Mihaljevic in 2011. This event, where like-minded people who are truly passionate about investing get together to share ideas, had a tremendous appeal to me.

I wanted to recreate this special experience somewhere closer to home; and since I live in Denver, Vail, which is a gorgeous little treasure only two hours away, seemed like a perfect choice. (I’d argue that Vail is an improved replica of Klosters, but I am biased.)

This is a conference where we do things very differently.

Conference size is intentionally limited to 40 attendees. Over the years I have discovered that large groups are not conducive to the flow and sharing of ideas. Also, it is easier to control quality if you limit quantity. Thus the attendees are carefully selected.

All attendees are asked to share ideas, whether in a 15-minute presentation (with an additional 10 minutes allotted to questions), in a “dessert talk,” or more informally late at night in the bar. There is only time for about 20 presentations; therefore, while everyone should be willing to present, a committee selects only the most interesting and timely presentations.

This is a research conference for diehard investors, and the focus is strictly on research. For this reason, no sales and marketing or family office/endowment capital allocator folks are accepted as attendees.

The presentation can be on any investment topic, including but not limited to stock ideas (long or short), macroeconomic or geopolitical discussions, sector or industry analysis, insights into the investment process, etc. When the attendee list is finalized, attendees will be contacted about their presentations.

Though most attendees will be professional value investors, you don’t have to be a pro to attend. In the past, we have discovered that some of the most insightful presentations come from nonprofessional investors who are diehard investors at heart but come from a wide range of industries.

Typically, we have about six presentations every evening (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) starting at 4 PM for about three hours, followed by dinner at a different restaurant every night. In addition, we have one or two dessert speakers who deliver an informal talk and do Q&A on an interesting subject. To conclude each day, the more adventurous types are welcome to join us at the bar for drinks.

In the morning, we host breakfast in a Jeffersonian-style discussion format, where the group chooses one topic to be discussed.

Right after breakfast, we do a fun activity. In previous years, we went to different ranches, did zip lining, played volleyball, pitched horseshoes, and tried our hand at bocce ball; and the kids also did some fishing.

VALUEx Vail is a great opportunity for a family vacation. Vail in the summer offers a variety of activities, such as biking, walking, taking the gondola to the mountain peak, and simply enjoying the stunning Colorado scenery. Family members of all ages are welcome to participate in daytime activities. However, only conference attendees are permitted to join the investment presentations and dinners.

VALUEx Vail starts in Vail, but it doesn’t end in Vail. What I have discovered over the years is that people come for ideas but keep coming back for relationships. I have found that most attendees continue to stay in touch with each other long after the conference ends.

I hope to see you in Vail.

Vitaliy Katsenelson, CFA

CEO, Investment Management Associates, Inc. 

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