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The World Money Show

Charles Githler is a trend spotter. As chairman of Intershow, a company that arranges investment conferences and cruises, he has to make calls about what topics might be preeminent two to three years hence. Prescient he was when in 1999 he imagined that global investing would soon be of great interest to the followers of markets. It was necessary to temporarily postpone the launch because of world and economic conditions, but he hit it right when awhile back he committed space and speakers to the 2004 World Money Show.

Opening ceremonies, World Money Show
(Credit: Edwin C. Fancher)

Investment advisors frequently counsel to "buy the picks and shovels" of a business. The suppliers to the prospectors in the Gold Rush were often more successful than the miners who usually came up empty. In the same way Githler caters to the public’s thirst for investment information by offering the tools of the industry at trade shows.

When he told this interviewer that in 1978 he started the company in which his wife, Kim, is president and plays an active part, we wondered aloud, tongue in cheek, whether he was at the time in grammar school. He replied that he was then 22 and that at an early age his father had advised him to become interested in market forces and economics. Charles had an affinity for philosophy, read the works of Ayn Rand and was motivated by her thinking.

"Conferences used to be about gold and silver, commodities were hot and stocks were cold," he said. "By 1981-82 I shed my competitors and engaged well-know experts to appear at the meetings," Githler added. Those well-known experts, the stars of the investment firmament, gathered at Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida in early February to address 10,300 attendees. Two hundred and 25 speakers presented at the opening ceremonies, workshops, panels, discussions, product demonstrations, intensive conferences within the conference and power lunches.

In a headline event, A Talk with a Titan, Dr. Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former UN representative, whose rap sheet details her international expertise engaged in conversation with James Michaels, editor emeritus of Forbes, regarding the current and future state of global finance. Also sharing their sentiments were other captains of the industry, among them, Steve Forbes, the widely respected economic prognosticator, Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, and via video Sir John Templeton, "the greatest global stock picker of the century."

Russia and Eastern Europe, Germany, Japan, Canada, Austria, China and its Asian neighbors and Australia were featured in individual seminars as promising foreign regions in which to make money. When I questioned Mr. Githler about India, he said that there had, indeed, been mention of this emerging giant as part of another talk.

Show attendees socialize at the
Castillo de San Marcos
(Credit: Edwin C. Fancher)

The scope of topics that were addressed was so broad that attendees who were "financial freshmen, PhD’s or somewhere in between" could "schedule classes" from 8 to 8. Information was dispensed about equities, income-producing vehicles, currencies, commodities, options, REITs, retirement accounts, energy, nanotech, biotech, technology, diversification, technical analysis, mutual funds, ETFs, taxes, health care, estate planning, ADRs and more. Twelve workshops out of the approximately 200 that were free ran concurrently. Optional and modestly priced two- to six-hour panels focused on a single theme or sector.

Representatives of publishers like Forbes, Kiplingler’s, Morningstar, Barron’s, Phillips, a producer of 11 newsletters, and Standard & Poor’s were present to lecture about their research and writing. Loyal followers, ourselves included, of Tobin Smith, editor of ChangeWave Investing and founder and CEO of ChangeWave Research, a theory about transformation that helps identify up-and-coming winning stocks, appeared five times in packed meeting halls. Toby, smart and successful, is also the fiscal guru with whom we’d most like to be guests at a party. He tempers his serious comments with jokes, non-p.c. remarks, personal anecdotes and accents. Sometimes we think we like to listen to him because of his stand-up comic demeanor. His recommendations, some of which have worked out extremely well, we can get from his newsletter. For the shtick we’d need to go to a comedy club.

But back to business, money is not a laughing matter and CEOTRAVELER went to every meeting we possibly could. We learned something new in each session. Joe Battipaglia, a chief investment analyst, suggested what percentages in varying industries should be in a personal portfolio and named more than a dozen of his favorites. Howard Gold and Michael Kahn of Barron’s Online conducted a two-pronged forum about fundamental and technical analysis. Gold proffered parameters for buying gold stocks and predicted that the commodity would rise to $850 an ounce within the next six years. Kahn showed charts that were easily copied and understood.

John Buckingham, editor of the Prudent Speculator and a money manager with a stellar track record, underscored the four pillars of value investing, a style he prefers over growth. Jon Marksman, who is affiliated with CNBC on MSN Money, chose as his topics using the web and swing trading. He talked about the screener he employs to find "names trying to slip in front of fund managers." We also heard Louis Navallier, editor of three newsletters, who has a stock grader on his website, bluechipgrowth.com, Marc Gerstein of Reuters, who presented his favorite research guidelines, Jim Jubak (CNBN on MSN Money) who shared his ideas on China and several speakers who talked up REITs. Although we carefully planned what meetings to attend, we found ourselves exiting a few of them shortly after arrival.

We also sat in on two panels, Investing for Growth and Technology World Leaders. A half dozen speakers from the pantheon of finance contributed ideas on their specialties. Listeners were indifferent to Marilyn Cohen from Forbes, who writes about bonds, because bonds are currently out of favor. Josh Wolfe, who edits Forbes’ Nanotech newsletter, held the audience’s attention because nanotechnology is seen as the wave of the future.

The most commercial aspect of the show was the large exhibition hall filled with booths publicizing a brand name product or selling investment vehicles including software for trading, commodities, financial planning, newsletters and REITS.

As we leaf through our extensive notes from the show we realize that there are many, too many, ideas yet to be investigated. Managing money is challenging and worrisome. Perhaps along with their ages that was why so many of the individual investors present had gray hair.

Intershow, The Githler Center, 1258 N. Palm Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236. Tel. 941-955-0323. http://www.intershow.com

Winter 2003-04