Dave Butler: Basketball to the Boardroom – Meet The Co-CEO of Dimensional


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Dave Butler

Dave Butler

Matt says Dave Butler is one of the most important figures in modern investing. Dave’s path to Co-CEO of Dimensional was not a straight one. In fact, it required a detour to Istanbul. Enjoy this conversation taped in Austin, TX.

Reaching a height taller than most (6’9”, by some accounts), it was almost inevitable that Dave Butler would play basketball. When an NBA players’ strike meddled with Dave’s professional tryouts, he accepted an offer to try out for a professional team in Istanbul. He nailed it, and for several years played overseas. Unfortunately, an injury derailed his career. After taking a break to finish his MBA at Berkeley, his mother notified him that he had received a job offer on Wall Street. 48 hours later, Dave was sitting at a desk, learning the ropes at his first job in finance.

But after three years, Dave was disillusioned. The high-pressure culture around buying and selling felt futile. Dave opted to return to his hometown in California and possibly become a teacher and coach basketball. He wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of others, working for a cause he could believe in.

As soon as he seemed to have it all figured out, Dave came across an ad in the paper for a money manager in Santa Monica. He scheduled an interview, and almost canceled it at the last minute. Good manners took over, however, and he kept his appointment. That was the start of Dave’s journey at Dimensional.

Dave instantly saw that Dimensional was different. Here, he could pursue his interest in investing while also doing right by clients. 20 years later, Dave has no doubt he made the right decision. “I think the spirit of Dimensional is really the pursuit of truth.” What could be a greater cause than that?

Read the full transcript here.

Key Topics

  • Introducing Dave. [00:42]

  • Dave’s background in professional basketball. [04:10]

  • Dave’s transition from basketball to finance. [06:14]

  • Dave’s early days in finance. [07:17]

  • Starting out at Dimensional. [11:04]

  • The origins of indexing. [14:02]

  • Early days of Dimensional and the 9-10 fund. [16:10]

  • Setting and meeting expectations. [18:35]  

  • Philosophical alignment. [19:45]

  • Dan Wheeler’s influence. [21:52]

  • Dimensional’s reach and its growth over the years. [26:17]

  • Finding balance between work and other areas of life. [30:14]

  • Dave’s favorite part of working at Dimensional. [33:32]

  • Dimensional as a visionary in the field. [35:57]

  • Dimensional’s investing philosophy. [38:25]

  • Talking finance at parties. [42:08]

  • Current projects. [44:23]

Thanks for listening!
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