The legendary investor’s principles and insights shed light on the challenges and rewards of long-term investing
Charlie Munger, the renowned investor and long-time partner of Warren Buffett, passed away this week, leaving behind a legacy of investment wisdom and a track record that speaks for itself. As we reflect on his remarkable career, it is worth revisiting his investing principles, which provide valuable insights into navigating the volatile world of finance. Munger’s approach to investing, characterized by discipline, patience, and a philosophical mindset, offers valuable lessons for both seasoned investors and those just starting their journey.
The Munger Partnership: Spectacular Returns Amidst Volatility
Before joining Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, Munger ran the Munger Partnership, a fund that delivered spectacular annual returns. However, a closer look reveals the inherent volatility in Munger’s investment approach. During the 1973-1974 bear market, Munger experienced a staggering decline of over 53%. Yet, these losses were overshadowed by the gains that more than made up for them.
Berkshire Hathaway: Volatility on the Path to Extraordinary Returns
Munger’s partnership with Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway exemplifies the same dynamic of volatility and remarkable returns. Since 1978, Berkshire Hathaway has compounded capital at an astonishing rate of nearly 19% per year. However, this journey was not without its fair share of drawdowns. Over the past four decades, Berkshire Hathaway experienced significant declines, including -20%, -32%, -34%, -46%, -51%, -22%, and -25% during various bear markets and crashes.
Munger’s Philosophy on Market Fluctuations
One of Munger’s most memorable quotes encapsulates his philosophy on market fluctuations: “If you’re not willing to react with equanimity to a market price decline of 50% two or three times a century, you’re not fit to be a common shareholder.” Munger emphasizes the importance of maintaining a philosophical mindset and being able to weather the storm during market downturns. However, he acknowledges that this is no easy task, as losing money is never enjoyable.
The Difficulty of Investment Success
Munger’s interviews and insights highlight the challenges and hardships of achieving investment success. He emphasizes that making money in the market has never been easy and that it requires a combination of intelligence, hard work, and luck. Munger humbly admits that replicating the success of Berkshire Hathaway in today’s market would be unlikely, as luck plays a significant role in achieving extraordinary results. He cautions against the notion that success can be easily replicated, debunking the myth perpetuated by those who oversimplify the path to success.
The Hard Truth and Individual Adaptation
Munger’s candidness about the difficulty of investment success is refreshing. He challenges the notion that there is a one-size-fits-all investment strategy and emphasizes the importance of adapting one’s approach to their own nature and talents. Munger acknowledges that losses are inevitable and suggests that individuals should align their investment strategy with their own psychology and risk tolerance. This personalized approach recognizes the unique circumstances and preferences of each investor.
Charlie Munger’s investment principles offer valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of long-term investing. His ability to navigate volatility, embrace the hardships of success, and acknowledge the role of luck sets him apart as a legendary investor. Munger’s wisdom reminds us that investing is not easy, but it is a journey worth undertaking with discipline, patience, and adaptability. As we bid farewell to this investing icon, we are left with a profound appreciation for his contributions to the world of finance and the enduring lessons he leaves behind.