Book Review – The Education of a Value Investor (G. Spier)

In One Sentence: The Education of a Value Investor is the story of how Guy Spier turned away from his greedy, morally corrupted investment banking environment and into a true value investor by modeling his work and life after Warren Buffett and his value investing approach (source).

Recommended Summary: Lifeclub.org has a fantastic – if lengthy – summary on this book here. If you are interested, give it a read.

Author: Guy Spier is a Zurich-based investor who runs the Aquamarine fund. We found out about him through Mohnish Pabrai. He seems like a genuinely top-notch guy and is unusually active on Twitter. A cool habit of his we would like to try out is the writing of thank-you letters to anyone and everyone he meets. He once wrote these kind little notes to literally everyone in a hotel he stayed at.

While this is pretty cool, it’s not even our favourite fact about him. He was, in fact, born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. You’d never guess it, but he’s technically a local.

Review: It is difficult to think of a book more fitting to the career of burgeoning value investors early on in their careers (i.e. us at SA Equities), than one literally outlining the growth path and development of an investor a little older who has followed virtually the exact journey we are looking to walk.

While it does not give a great deal of an action plan, as the reader reads the book, he/she gains insight into another investor’s thinking. Guy’s vulnerability and openness is incredibly refreshing and his chapter on doing business the Buffett and Pabrai way is really quite elucidating.

The below quote attributed to Charlie Munger is certainly one that rings out in Guy’s gripping memoir. He has lived and learned and has most definitely ingrained many valuable lessons into his heart, much of which he leaves on the pages of his book.

Application to SA Equities: Our personal application has been beginning to think about the situation and context of our daily investing-related actions. Combining with thoughts about Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and his notion that willpower is a limited resource, Guy’s book has helped us unpack some of the necessity of creating an environment to work from that assists your decision-making rather than hampering it.

Takeaway: An astoundingly good book filled with gems. Guy is a very fluid and relatable writer who speaks well to those who are just starting out their journey.

In particular, Guy speaks very well about the irrational part of the brain and the need for both

  1. an understanding of behavioural finance and
  2. the need to create a structural advantage around you.

All in all, a super worthwhile read. A definite recommendation.

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