Let’s talk about the world’s greatest investors. 

First, we have Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha. Then, next in line would be the late Charlie Munger, Buffett’s partner. Together, they transformed Berkshire Hathaway into a US$ 880 billion conglomerate today. Subsequently, we do have Benjamin Graham, Philip Fisher, Peter Lynch … and so on and so forth. 

They all seem to be smart and accomplished. 

And if you’re a woman, it’s easy to think that men are better at investing for the names mentioned are all men. 

But here, what if today, you’re a woman and you don’t consider yourself to be a financially savvy or accomplished person, but yet, you can attain wild success in investing? What if this wild success is worth 9-figures in USD, which surpasses a lot of traders, speculators, pundits, … and many others who seem to be smart? 

Really, 9-figures in USD? 

Yes. 

That person is none other than Roberta Buffett (Bertie). 


Who is Bertie? 

Bertie is Warren Buffett’s little sister. 

Warren Buffett, as Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, addresses his shareholders in his annual reports, which are collectively known as Buffett’s Letters. Lately, in February 2023, Berkshire Hathaway released its latest annual letter. Of which, it wrote that Bertie is Buffett’s perfect mental model when picturing his investors. 

In other words, Bertie is likened to most of us (the average investors). 

But unlike most of us, Bertie had retained her Berkshire shares since 1980. That is a period of 43 years. Of which, Berkshire’s stock price (Class A) had risen from US$ 300-400 in 1980 to US$ 614k today. Each US$ 10k in Berkshire that she had retained in 1980 would now be worth US$15m today. 

Woah! 

Yeah, I am as fascinated as you are now. 

Today, Buffett shared that Bertie had given away 9-figures in USD worth of gifts. But still, even after her philanthropic initiatives, she is still very wealthy. 

Here, the key is not so much on what Bertie had achieved. But, if today you feel that you aren’t that smart, the question is to know how Bertie did hers and find wisdom, inspiration, and application from her story. Here, I’ll like to share some investing lessons that I have acquired from studying Bertie. They are as follows: 


#1: Is Bertie Financially Smart?

According to Buffett, Bertie has some understanding on accounting terms but it is not enough for her to be an accountant (CPA). This means: ‘Although she isn’t as financially educated, she makes it a point to know accounting.’ Why? Simple. This is because she understands that stocks are businesses that would generate income from offering products and services to customers. She likes to know the actual financial results from her business (Berkshire Hathaway Inc). 

If she thinks stocks (like how most people do), which is to trade or speculate for short-term gains, there’s no need to learn accounting. Following such thinking, I believe Bertie would not had achieved or have the ability to give away 9-figures in USD in her lifetime. 

So, from here, we can learn 2 things from Bertie: 

  • Have a long-term mindset when investing. 
  • Learn accounting. 


#2: Is Bertie Wise?

“Smart” and “Wise” may sound similar but can be different. 

For instance, take medical doctors, who smoke as an example. You get the idea. So, Bertie’s level of accounting isn’t at a CPA’s level. But, she is wise. She knows, who and who not to listen to, what and what not to look at, in investing. Buffett wrote that Bertie is wise enough to avoid pundits and predictions as they aren’t helpful. That’s not how Bertie got her 9-figures. But rather, Bertie knows a thing or two about human behaviour and to focus on business results, when it comes to assessing stock performances. 

In that sense, she is wise, nobody’s fool. 

Imagine if Bertie pays attention to news, tips, pundits, predictions and noises in the markets, do you think she could hold onto Berkshire for 43 years? To me, I’ll say that’s psychologically not possible. 


#3: Did Bertie Trade Stocks? 

Buffett wrote that Bertie had traded stocks with some frequency in 1956-1980. 

Then in 1980, when she was 46, Bertie retained her Berkshire shares and ‘made no new trades’ since then. No new trades mean no buying / selling shares. That is for a period of 43 years and still counting, which encompasses crises like: 

  • Early recession in 1980s. 
  • Black Monday in 1987. 
  • Asian Financial Crisis in 1997/98. 
  • Dotcom Bubble in 2000/02. 
  • Global Financial Crisis in 2007/08. 
  • COVID-19 in 2020
  • Russian-Ukraine War 

She did not panic sell or buy during manias. 

She just retained her Berkshire shares for the longest period of time. 

The Money in stock investing is in the Waiting, not trading. It’s about patience. I think patience is a virtue that all of us (myself included) should learn, pick up, & master. As Buffett quotes, money flows from the impatient to the patient when it comes to stock investing. 


#4: But Isn’t $10k to $15m a Bit Too Far-Fetched? 

For most (myself included), it seems to be unfathomably absurd. 

But not until I read and studied Berkshire’s annual reports. 

If one looks at stock charts, the rise in Berkshire seems absurd. But, if one looks at Berkshire’s businesses, we’ll see the big picture. Look at the table below:

That’s why. When we choose a stock, it’s not so much on which one can go up. I believe it is about choosing a business that can expand and deliver growth in its sales, profits, operating cash flows, assets … etc over the long-term. This is how wealth (crazy wealth) is built over decades. That is how Bertie built hers and for her, she knew better to retain her Berkshire shares for the long run. Remember, the Big Money in stock investing lies in the waiting not trading. 


Conclusion: 

Can you replicate what Bertie had accomplished? 

I believe even if you accomplish just 0.1% of what Bertie had accomplished, you would be absolutely delighted. That is only possible for us if we: 

  • Adopt a long-term mindset when investing. 
  • Willing to learn accounting. 
  • Understand that stocks are businesses that could grow & expand. 
  • Ignore pundits and predictions. 
  • Don’t trade. Just wait for businesses to grow and expand. 

Otherwise, it won’t work. 

Both KC and myself remain students of such principles. Sure, we do not claim to have 40+ years of investing experiences under our belt, but, the adoption of his wisdom and insights of value investing are beneficial to building a sustainable & profitable 6 or 7-figure stock portfolio. We can’t do so without the above. Here, we have prepared a webinar to explain how you would be able to build wealth sustainably via value investing.

Link:
Online Training: Case Study of 1 Actual Stock that I had Invested in and Why It Doesn’t Take High Risk to Generate High Returns in the Stock Market?


Ian Tai
Ian Tai

Financial Content Machine. Dividend Investor. Produced 500+ Financial Articles featured in KCLau.com in Malaysia and the Fifth Person, Value Invest Asia, and Small Cap Asia in Singapore. Regular Host and Presenter of a Weekly Financial Webinar with KCLau.com. Co-Founded DividendVault.com, an online membership site that empowers retail investors to build a stock portfolio that pays rising dividends year after year in Malaysia and Singapore.

    4 replies to "Bertie Buffett: A Role Model for Average Investors"

    • ariff nazmi

      Hi Ian,

      I’m one the KCLau blog reader for more than 10 years now and really like you and KC’s writing since the beginning until now.

      Previously i have 6figures in my ASB savings but after that i got married,have 2 kids (for now, 1 pair,thanks to god,Alhamdulillah),buy a house and stay,buy cars for me & my wife transportation to work and whereabouts,pay expenses for family.

      Until now, i’m not yet getting by 6 figures in my ASB..but i believe..

      I will get it back because right now all my expenses is still considering as investment because every expenses that came out is investing for my family life, invest in children education, invest in proper living, invest in wife happiness (hahaha)

      Just want to tell you that i know i’m becoming back as a MBA student in both Malaysia and currently in Germany to complete final semester. So know im investing for my knowledge and career growth or maybe work there (life is a box of chocolate right?,haha)

      I will continue to read on this blog and please don’t ever stop writing.

      Best of luck for both of you,
      Ariff
      Stuttgart, Germany

      • Ian Tai

        Hi Ariff, so glad to hear from you. I’m happy to hear your progression in life. You must be enjoying life as I write. I’ll keep on writing them, knowing that you read our sequels.

    • Sumaiya

      Bertie Buffett’s story is truly inspiring! It goes to show that you don’t have to be a financial genius to succeed in investing. Just adopting a long-term mindset, learning some basics like accounting, and having the patience to wait for businesses to grow can lead to incredible results. It’s all about sticking to your guns and not getting swayed by market noise. I’m definitely taking some cues from Bertie’s playbook for my own investment journey!

      • Ian Tai

        Hi Sumaiya, thanks for reading the article!
        Yup, it’s all about doing the basics right for the long-term that yield results!

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