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The Value Investors: Lessons from the World's Top Fund Managers Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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From the Author
Q&A on The Value Investors: Lessons from the World's Top Fund Managers
with author Ronald W. Chan
Why did you decide to write The Value Investors: Lessons from the World's Top Fund Managers?
As a value fund manager myself, I have never felt that an investment skill set alone is the determining factor in beating the stock market. Rather, it has more to do with one's temperament and investment philosophy. To learn more about these qualities, I tried to look into the life and career experiences of successful value investors around the world, but was able to find only information on their investment performance or current outlook.
The idea of writing this book emerged with the realization that to truly understand the essence of value investing, I needed to learn more about the career paths and life encounters of its successful practitioners. In 2011 and 2012, I interviewed 12 renowned value investors from different parts of the world. They told me about their personal background and shared their life stories, and in the book I inform readers of why and how they became value investors in the first place and what has made them successful.
Who should read this book?
I believe anyone who is interested in investing and in sensible money management should read this book. As Professor Bruce Greenwald, Director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing at Columbia University, put it, the book is a good "starting point for any nascent value investor and an invaluable reference for experienced investors."
It is important to note that the book is not an in-depth analysis of investment theories or formulas. Instead, it tells the life stories of tried and true value investors, who inform us of how they started out and how they became who they are today.
What is the one thing that all of the value investors you interviewed have in common?
They are all curious about the world. They are curious about human psychology, about how businesses function, and about how the world is progressing. In effect, this means that they never stop reading and learning because they always want to know more. By that, I don't mean that they read romance novels or gossip magazines, but rather useful materials and information that will improve their knowledge and give them an edge when it comes to investment decision making.
People often ask these investors how they generate ideas, and their answer is simply "I read a lot." Although this answer may not seem helpful on the face of it, idea generation involves more than waking up one day and deciding to look for inspiration. It is important to have a disciplined reading and learning routine, to try to understand the world in a systematic manner, and to synthesize all of the information you have accumulated. Then, inspiration may strike.
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Top Customer Reviews
But this one is by far the most inspiring and educational. Especially liked the sections on Walter Schloss and Irving Kahn.
Very well written !
The first four chapters, which deal with U.S. investors (Schloss, Kahn’s, and Browne) is by far the best portion. The chapters give details of their early lives, their philosophy, some of their struggles, and important lessons they’ve learned. Perhaps it’s because most of the investors profiled here didn’t have a business background (as myself), but mostly rooted in the liberal arts, specifically history, that they come across as the most insightful chapters of the book. After the chapter on Browne, the book takes a steep nose-dive.
After the U.S. investors are covered, the author moves on to European money managers. While Jean-Marie Eveillard is a manager with a thorough record of success which warrants his inclusion here, the other two, Anthony Nutt and Francisco Parames, have only been in the industry for around 15 years or so (Parames managing money from 1993 to 2003 and then in a reduced role after that, and Nutt from 1996 to the present). I’m all for newer investment perspectives, rather than the same Buffett and Lynch profile in every other book, but considering the 1990s were a huge bull market, above average returns during that period means very little, and certainly aren’t worth mentioning along the greats like Browne and the Kahn’s.
The next part of the book covers international markets beyond Europe. This is where the book becomes flat out boring. The first investor covered is Mark Mobius. There are some good caveats here about understanding political risks in uncertain investment environments, but again, like the previous chapters, Mobius has only been investing since 1987. Furthermore, upon a little bit of research on my own behalf, rather than relying on the numbers the author published, Mobius has actually UNDERPERFORMED the market since his funds inception in 1987! Unbelievable. Regarding the rest of the international investor chapters, perhaps there was something lost in translation, but there is nothing of interest in these parts. The managers talk about their background in business, one or two have a background in liberal arts (but unlike the U.S. investors, this isn’t expanded upon, it’s just mentioned in passing), and real basic investment advice such as just being able to “feel” if a manager is worth dealing with, etc. In short, you pick up nothing in the last 100 pages that you didn’t pick up in the first 100.
In sum, the first part is certainly readable, but between the poor choice in managers to profile, and the boring material in the second half of the book, it’s not worth your time.