It's verging on dreary, isn't it? All those articles about Warren Buffett and what you can learn from him. Heck, I've written some myself! Stick with what you know, aim to hold on for a long time, wait for the best opportunities, look for high-quality companies and managers, focus on value, be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful, try not to lose money ... you get the picture.
Why such a fuss about Warren Buffett? Sure, the head of Berkshire Hathaway
So he probably knows a thing or two about investing. But some other investors do, too. Like me. And I bet Mr. Buffett could learn a thing or two from yours truly.
Trade more frequently
First off, Mr. Buffett might consider trading more frequently, as I did earlier in my investing career. When I look at his main stock holdings now, I see companies such as American Express
Trading more frequently will help him be invested in more companies over time, helping him get to know more of the overall market. For example, back in the mid- and late 1990s, I went in and out of dozens of companies written up in the financial press. True, doing so didn't yield great results, but I learned from all those mistakes and ended up with a nice collection of annual reports, which look very impressive when displayed on a coffee table. (Actually, now that I think about it, Mr. Buffett probably won't like this suggestion, given his stubborn insistence on trying not to lose money. Oh well.)
Smell the roses
Next, Mr. Buffett might spend less time reading financial statements, which he seems to spend many hours doing each week (if not each day). Again, in my early days of investing, I hardly cracked open an annual report, except to look at the glossy photos and cast an eye over the income statement. It saved me a lot of time, and some of my investments made with little research really paid off -- such as when I turned $3,000 into $210,000. None of my other investments did nearly as well, though. (Hmm. There's that "losing money" thing again.)
Mr. Buffett likes to stay within his circle of competence, investing only in what he understands. Well, perhaps he might find greater returns by taking on more risk and venturing outside that circle. I've done so many times. In 1999, for example, I bought into Celera Genomics
Now that I think about it, maybe that had something to do with my loss of $1,100? I didn't know much about Oracle
Maybe Mr. Buffett is onto something.
Find smarter people
OK, so maybe there's not much Mr. Buffett can learn from me (unless he's curious about how to work in stained glass). He's the smarter investor. And that's an important fact for every investor to realize: There are smarter investors out there than you.
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to lose money. Despite my many boneheaded investments, I'm doing fairly well. Why? Because I find those smarter people and let them manage my money for me.
For example, I've actually got Mr. Buffett himself working for me, since I'm a shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway. So his hours spent poring over SEC filings are actually spent working for me (and for himself and thousands of others). With any luck, he's got his nose in an annual report right now, finding somewhere to invest Berkshire's cash pile, instead of reading this article.
I'm also investing increasingly in well-managed mutual funds, many of which I've found thanks to our Motley Fool Champion Funds service. These funds are run by smart investors who own shares themselves, and who charge low fees to beat the market. These funds can serve you well, too, you know -- particularly if you recognize that you may not be the smartest investor out there.
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Longtime contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. Berkshire and Coke are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.