Some October and September thoughts…
Couple months ago I’ve got to meet with Mr. L who runs his own hedge fund based in London.
The meeting was nothing short of inspirational.
Mr. L was born in the UK but raised in a neighbouring country to Vietnam. He then came back to the UK to study medicine. As time passed he realised medicine wasn’t what he wanted to do, so just like me he ended up finding comfort in becoming a long-term stock investor. Mr L spent a heck loads of time studying companies, applying for asset-management jobs and building his own investment philosophy. Then at 30-32 he started visiting Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting and, just like me he found his bible – the writing and teaching of the Berkshire’s superinvestors – Mr. Buffett and Munger. At 34-35, he started running his own show, putting the majority of his net worth and of his family into the fund. His fund was also seeded by a renowned value investor in the States. So far as I learned about his fund via his writing, the fund has been significantly outperforming its index by a wide margin.
Mr L seems like just the kind of investor I want to grow up to become, maybe with his Asian background that makes me look up (secretly) to him like some sort of a very important figure. The man is a one-man band, running his own show, appears extremely simple and frugal yet intelligent and ambitious.
On the first day of our meet up, Mr L gave me a book as a gift (The frigging first day I must emphasize, I have yet come across anyone who would give me sincerely a book on the first day of getting to know one another). The book wasn’t about investing. It was a personal-development sort of book, called “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. The book advocated for the world to be a bit more of a giver than a taker. Though Mr L had an interesting interpretation of the book and finished our meeting by urging me to be kind and generous because life is a marathon not a sprint.
The book led me to reflect on the people I met, on life and of course on the investing masters I followed. All of my admirable investment managers have been great givers, not only limited to their generous charitable donations but also in their teachings which they gave out for free. Nick Train is an example. His clear-cut writing informed his investors (and me) on why and how he made his purchases and his investment thinking is well documented in his fund’s website.
Mr L, Warren, Nick and the children/grandchildren of the Graham and Doddville town are such an inspiration. They are the sort of people I want to grow up to become.
Reflection on 2 years of active investing
In terms of active investing, I have come to two fruitful realisations. They are the biggest achievements of mine in the last 2 years, and spoiler: they are not me making loads of money, nothing of the sort!
- First realisation: I will be in the stock market for the rest of my life, and it will be my long-life passion (same with breakdancing, hence Break’investor). Bold statement but let me clarify by citing Howard Marks – the great CEO of Oaktree who says something along the line of that “Investing isn’t about being in or out. But to be aggressive or defensive at the right time”. I will be in the stock market, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the moody behaviour of Mr. Market.
- Second realisation: The last 2 years and probably the next 5 years will be me learning about how to avoid losses. At the start of this journey, just like everyone else I dreamed of being able to beat the market. Yes it is still my dream, but not so much for now. The avoidance of loss is the utmost important lesson that I will need to learn, to be convicted to and to devote a great attention to. Just like what Mr L told me “life is a marathon, not a sprint”. So no need to rush for superior performance, take your time and learn.
Hope and dream (part 2)
Recently I got to read a book which summarises all the famous quotes by a great man named Ai Weiwei. If you don’t know Ai Weiwei, well you are missing out just like me couple weeks ago. I urged you to learn about the guy.
Ai Weiwei said one thing that I treasured in my heart: “When you taste freedom it will stay in your heart. And you will be more powerful than the whole nation”.
I taste my frigging freedom every time I open an annual report of a company, trying my favourite companies’ products, cultivating my investment philosophy, talking to like-minded investors, friends, and of course reading.
I taste my frigging freedom whenever I’m on work holiday spending a considerable amount of that holiday reading about investing.
My last summer holiday was to Thailand, and my parents were generous enough to let me spend lots of time during our trip reading about investing, be it books, companies’ reports or Warren. (I also picked up a good Thai company that upon my future return to Thailand I shall examine and maybe do a purchase?)
But yeah, I tasted my freedom. And it stayed in my heart, and god damn it does feel I’m more powerful than the frigging universe.
The dream is to run my own fund, be it a tiny family fund. I have come to realise the material needs in me is significantly smaller than the rest of the population. Yet this is only the case when my net worth increase sustains at a good pace. So as long as the net worth is increasing, the spending needs can be comfortably contained.
Update on net worth
The net worth has increased 32.6% to ~£22,000 from the last time I reported. Readers, please refrain from congratulating me on this significant increase in net worth. The good news is that it increased a lot, the bad news is that most of it come from savings!
The net worth has been impacted by short-term investment losses on a few new purchases. I said short-term investment losses because it is uncertain/too short-a-time-frame to deem them long-term failures. Though some of my very intelligent like-minded investing friends have dubbed my recent purchases to be nothing short of, to put bluntly, dumb. I appreciated their thoughts yet I would have to disagree and stand by the convictions I made.