What Information Age skeptics will love about Tonge is how he has little room for the supposed must-haves of the information era. He does not use sophisticated risk management models or complex, real-time, computer-driven trading algos. He keeps CNBC turned off during the day and struggles to keep up with the pile of Barron's magazines in his office. "I'm not looking at my stupid computer all day. I can't remember the last financial statement I studied," he said. "That's all noise. The trick actually is cutting down on those inputs. Instead, I use my brain." Tonge relies on a simple mix of throwback technical, so-called "point and figure" charting and a seat-of-the-pants value investing style, a la Fidelity Investments' Peter Lynch, to manage $33 million in a mix of stocks, bonds, electronically traded funds and the occasional covered call. A handful of his 100 some-odd clients with whom I spoke confirm that their returns are worth the between one-half and one-percent annual fees he charges.
What really makes Tonge a national investing treasure is his city-slicker-be-damned, Yankee common sense when it comes to new age tickers such as Pandora. On one hand, he's a bull's bull on Pandora the stock; but on the other, he's got the backbone to not pander to the nonsense that passes for Wall Street fundamental analysis on Pandora the company. royalty battle with musical artists. "All I care about is that the buyers are in charge. When that changes and the sellers take over, I will step out of the way and sell," he said. "But until then I bought Pandora at $9 and I just want to thank Goldman for piling in at $18 with a $27 price target. I have no plans to sell." When I asked Tonge what is it about mainstream Wall Street these days where its get taken in Information Age logic that is often anything but logical, he could not answer fast enough. "All the hedge fund people get sucked into making the money," he said. "There is not a fund operator I've met that has even met one of their clients. I visit their homes." "I am the odd person out here," he said. "I am interested in my customers."