Perhaps the most famous man when it comes to investing is Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The only other man who could even run him close is Jordan Belfort, the infamous man also known as The Wolf of Wall Street.
Stock market enthusiasts watch out for his letter to his investors in his company’s Annual Reports in the same way a child anticipates Christmas. Buffett is so successful that each year he auctions off a chance to eat dinner with him, and pick his brain about his investment strategies, which was won this year by a Chinese online gaming company with a bid of $2,345,678.
Buffett currently has a $1 million bet with a Hedge Fund Company. He has selected a Vanguard fund which is tracking the S&P 500 Index and he believes this will beat the performance of Protégé Partners’ selected hedge funds over 10 years. The S&P 500, which the Vanguard fund tracks, is the index which is made up of the top 500 companies in the US. At the beginning, they each selected a charity of their choice, and the winner’s choice will receive $1,000,000. However, as time has passed and stakes have been raised, the potential reward has actually increased to closer to $2 million. Seven years in, Buffett’s investment fund has increased by 63.5% while the hedge funds are up 19.6%. In these seven years, Buffett was only behind at the end of year one, because it started in 2008 when global stock markets crashed.
Buffett has always been an advocate that you shouldn’t try to beat the market in the short term. He uses the analogy of one of Aesop’s fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” suggesting if you pick an index fund and stick with it, in the long term you will make more money than betting on just a selection of these stocks. This is simply because you can’t tell which stocks will do better than others – no one can predict the future. Many different fund managers have jobs solely to beat the market, and yet very few can statistically and consistently prove that they can.
Like the hare in Aesop’s fable, if you pick stocks, you may well see your money go up quicker in the short term, but in the long term, data shows that index investments normally out-perform individual stocks over at least 5 years. When it comes to investing, remember the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” and invest like a tortoise!