Masterspeak 2015

"When we make mistakes, we need to squeeze every lesson out because the tuition fee is expensive"

Aquamarine Capital's Guy Spier is the evergreen learner, who calls himself an accidental value investor 

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Published 6 years ago on Sep 04, 2015 12 minutes Read
Photographs by N Mahalakshmi

By all accounts 51-year-old Guy Spier is an accidental value investor. After completing his undergraduate studies at Oxford, Spier earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School. Just like the rest of his peers, Spier ended up as an investment banker on Wall Street. But he soon found the all-pervasive whatever-it-takes culture stifling his conscience. The credo “anything goes” was not for Spier who finally found his true calling when he turned to investing in 1997 by launching Aquamarine Fund, modeled largely on Warren Buffett’s investing principles.

Spier attributes a large part of his second coming to Buffett and the learnings from attending the Woodstock of Capitalism, the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, since 1995. Meeting Buffett cloner Mohnish Pabrai only reinforced Spier’s faith in the tenets of value investing. But as Spier points out the best investing lessons have little to do with stocks and more to do with knowing oneself. Sitting out of his Zurich office, Spier takes us through his investment philosophy, talking about his multi-bagger picks and the lessons he learnt from missing a thing or two.

What was your biggest education as a value investor?

It all started for me with Ben Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor. The second big influence was Warren Buffett and the biography of Ben Stein. The third influence was Mohnish Pabrai. I learnt an awful lot from Pabrai because I managed to spend time with him as he was far more accessible than Buffett.

Coming back to Graham, the three basic ideas that continue to influence me are: First, Mr Market is th

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