I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the people who I choose to be influenced by, who I read regularly and I respect. And wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with many of them, over dinner and wine, and see how much I can learn in one evening? In a fanciful world where this happens, here’s who would share the table:
(In no particular order)
Jason Zweig. The author of Wall Street Journal’s The Intelligent Investor personal finance column, editor of the revised version of Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, Zweig has worked hard to earn the respect of individual and professional investors alike. Zweig recently won the Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism and his 250th WSJ column reflecting on his career is really a must-read. He is well written and well spoken, calm and rational to the core and focused on helping investors achieve long-term success and ignore short-term noise.
Jack Bogle. The father of Vanguard and the patron saint of low-cost index funds, Bogle is a must-have for my little dinner party. He’ll be fiery and feisty, picking a fight with everybody at the table. Yes, he’ll say the same thing about index investing and the unstoppable tyranny of compounding costs, but I’d like to hear him say it in person.
Josh Brown. For the jokes. Josh is the author of The Reformed Broker blog and his book Backstage Wall Street is a great look at what it is like to be inside a Street brokerage firm. Josh is a keen observer of the financial markets and the financial industry. But also, for the jokes.
Eugene Fama. Often considered the father of modern portfolio theory, devising that investment return and risk are intrinsically linked, Fama is the McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research into financial markets led to the widespread use of broadly diversified investment portfolios and has helped countless investors learn the pitfalls of speculating on individual stocks. Together with Ken French, Fama proved that market risk, capitalization (size) and value were determining factors of investment performance (aka the “three factor model”). This research led to the creation of Dimensional Fund Advisors, a fund company offering relatively low-cost passive investment strategies.
Michael Lewis. Lewis, author of The Big Short and Liar’s Poker (among others) is my favorite financial journalist/author. Lewis was inside Wall Street (Salomon Brothers) during the junk bond heydey (the premise of Liar’s Poker) and left to become a writer. A wonderful writer, Lewis has seen the world of finance and crafts a wonderful tale around it. If you haven’t, go read every book he’s written.
Cullen Roche. Cullen blogs at Pragmatic Capitalism and runs an investment consulting an research firm at Orcam Financial Group. He frequently takes (very) deep dives into the workings of our monetary systems and policies, but foremost is a no-nonsense guy who has a unique perspective on the financial markets, economics and portfolio management. Cullen is (as the name of his blog implies) first a pragmatist and doesn’t get mired in political nonsense when it comes to the financial marketplace.
Mebane Faber. Mebane is a portfolio manager at Cambrian Investment Research where he runs a global tactical asset allocation strategy (hey, I can’t agree with everyone at dinner, right?). He also writes at mebanefaber.com and is the author of Shareholder Yield, a great (and reader friendly) look at the shortcomings of dividend investment strategies and how investors should take a broader look at investment returns. While we might disagree on portfolio management, sitting down with thoughtful, intelligent and well-spoken people brings out the best in everyone.
(Update: I had two serious oversights in putting this together that I am correcting below!)
Tom Brakke. Tom is an institutional investment consultant and author of the Research Puzzle. Tom has cut his niche into the world of asset manager research and selection, helping institutional investors make informed decisions about their investment process. His blog is always a must-read and he has deep insights into the world of investment management.
Tadas Viskanta. Tadas is the author of Abnormal Returns and a blog by the same name. The blog is chock full of great link curation for those staying up to date on news in today’s markets, and Tadas’ book is a field guide for investors, a sensible and thoughtful approach to investment strategies.
You might notice there are some huge names in the investment world not on this list. Some were left off by accident. Others (like a famous bond manager or two) have egos so large I fear no one else would fit in the room. I am about as interested in stock portfolio managers as I would be to sit down at a table full of professional roulette players. Also missing are economists of any stripes for the same reason. I love economics (especially macro) but don’t find that there is any value in trying to apply economic theory to an investment portfolio.