EDUCATION AND SMARTS

 

"Much of what is taught in modern corporate finance courses is twaddle" Charlie Munger

"I would say we’ve seen relatively little correlation between investment results and IQ." Warren Buffett

"We start with some good news about your education: simply put, if your goal is to beat the market, an MBA or a PhD from a top business school will be of virtually no help.  Well, it's good news, that is, if you haven't squandered tons of money and time at a business school in the single-minded quest for stock market success." Joel Greenblatt

"I never had any business school training, why should you have any?" Charlie Munger

"I don’t think you learn the most from an MBA anyway. And I do think you learn a lot from the most basic experiences. You can work yourself up from running a little store or other simple experiences, and you can go online and get wonderful courses on any skill that you want to acquire. Also, look around you and find your role models and ask them what principles led them to be successful." Ray Dalio

"I am not putting down the study of economics, business cycles, and even security analysis.  But knowing them does not guarantee success, and if you haven't a clue about them, there may be hope for you yet"  Adam Smith, The Money Game

"There’s a great desire of the priesthood in finance to want to teach the things that they know and you don’t know and that they spent a long time learning and that maybe requires a fair amount of mathematics. And it really has nothing to do with investment success." Warren Buffett

“Just as many smart people fail in the investment business as stupid ones. Intellectually active people are particularly attracted to elegant concepts, which can have the effect of distracting them from simpler, more fundamental truths.” Peter Cundill

"If calculus were required, I'd have to go back to delivering papers" Warren Buffett

"Mostly, if you go to business school you will learn a lot of things we don’t believe." Charlie Munger

“Neither my father or my grandfather believed that a degree was necessary, or even useful, in the investment business” Chris Davis

“I spent 10 minutes with the Harvard alumnus who was doing the interview, and he assessed my capabilities and turned me down.” Warren Buffett

"I haven't been to business school. I am an engineer by training"  Mohnish Pabrai

I was not a very accomplished student.. I finished in the second 25 percent of the class, not a distinguished record by any stretch" John Neff

"Study history and philosophy. Do anything in preference to going to business school - wait on tables, hitchhike in the Far East" Jim Rogers

"The most important thing in investments is not having a high IQ, thank God. I mean, the important thing is realism and discipline. And you don’t need to be extraordinarily bright to do well in investments, if you are realistic and disciplined." Warren Buffett

“I don’t think those people who have very special records in the stock markets are necessarily brighter or have more cerebral abilities than the next person.  I think it’s a matter of competitive intensities, understanding one's role, understanding it wasn’t a matter of building a business and having an organisation but achieving the best return on your investors capital.  It’s an internalised drive that’s both competitive and to some degree intellectual that combines all that with the ability to take risk and be comforted by risk. I used to kiddingly say, I liked to watch the moving parts and the moving parts were the stocks that went up and down”  Michael Steinhardt

"To this day, I have never taken any course, anywhere, in chemistry, economics, psychology, or business" Charlie Munger

"A great IQ is not needed. I mean, you do not have to be terrifically smart to do well as an investor, at all." Warren Buffett

"I never received a college diploma or a business school degree, but in my youth, in my years in Paris, and ever since, I have been studying constantly.  I study people, I study life, I look and listen and read,  I have never found learning about anything a waste of time.  Everything I ever learned has helped me on Wall Street" Roy Neuberger

"Our office walls are barren of fancy diplomas" Allan Mecham

"I would say investment — finance — teaching in this country, in general, is kind of pathetic." Warren Buffett

"We don’t worry about risk in the traditional — the way you’re taught, actually, at Wharton." Warren Buffett

“I was convinced picking stocks was something any kid could do, and I tried to make it fun and keep it simple. The math part – accounting and spreadsheets – I figured that I could learn later”  Shelby Davis Jnr

"The business schools reward difficult complex behaviour more than simple behaviour, but simple behaviour is more effective" Warren Buffett

"The first thing I'd say very clearly, I'm no genius. I was not in the top 10 precent of my high school class. My SATs were so mediocre I went to Bowdoin because it was the only good school that didn't require SAT's and it turned out to be a very fortunate event for me" Stanley Druckenmiller

“At school I just lost interest.  I took pleasure in tormenting my teachers”  Warren Buffett

"I was a restless student, not a great academic" Sam Zell

"I did not do particularly well in school, I am easily distracted, and I have always been forgetful - not the list of personality traits likely to appear in a help-wanted ad for any profession"  Leon Levy

“I was a very ordinary kid, and a less than ordinary student” Ray Dalio

"I wasn’t a great student. I was all right." Henry Kravis

"If I was running a business school, teaching investments, I’d tell them I’d only have two courses. One would be how to value a business, and the second would be how to think about markets. And there wouldn’t be anything about modern portfolio theory or beta or efficient markets or anything like that. We’d get rid of that in the first 10 minutes." Warren Buffett

"I was an English major in college.  I took half a year of math and got a D- and dropped it and never took math again"  Glenn Greenberg

"I think people who go straight to college where they major in business and then rush out to the trading world often lack the needed judgement and intellectual curiosity.  Sometimes people who have studied more broadly end up being terrific investors with a lot more perspective and ideally a value system that reinforces that"  Josh Friedman

“A history degree is far more useful than a CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst].” Crispin Odey

“We chuckle that the CFA Institute (CFAI), presented its highest honor, the Award for Professional Excellence to its first three recipients: Sir John Templeton, Warren Buffett and John Neff, three of the best “active” investors of all time and all non-subscribers to the academic approach. The CFAI still advocates the Efficient Market Hypothesis and other such nonsense as its core body of knowledge. Further, the father of Security Analysis, Benjamin Graham, a name revered among value investors, is seldom taught (or even mentioned) at most business schools. Graham’s two seminal works, The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis, are undoubtedly the greatest investment books ever written.” Christopher Bloomstran

"Current finance classes can help you do average" Warren Buffett

"Just because you have a big brain, doesn't mean you can be good at investing"  Chuck Akre

"You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You've got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head." Charlie Munger

"Professor Newcomb taught [me] not only political economy, but philosophy, logic ethics, and psychology - all in one course.  Today these subjects would be fragmented among several professors.  I believe there was considerable advantages in being taught all these subjects by the same man.  Too many educators seem to have forgotten that you cannot teach good economics, good politics, good ethics, or good logic unless they are considered together as parts of one whole.  Colleges as a rule teach economics badly.  With over-specialisation has also come a tendency to mistake information for education, to turn out "quiz experts" who are crammed full of useful detail but who have not been trained how to think"  Bernard Baruch

"I’m all in favor of a good general education. And I think it helps investment performance." Charlie Munger

"Most of the top-ranked business schools around the world do not understand the fundamentals of margin of safety" Mohnish Pabrai

"I think diversification and all that stuff they're teaching at business school today is probably the most misguided concept anywhere" Stanley Druckenmiller

 “Unlike most people on Wall Street, I never went to business school, and I didn’t study business in college [I majored in psychology at the City College of New York and was turned down when I attempted to get into the course on advanced securities analysis]”. Leon Levy

"Those of you about to enter business school, or who are there, I recommend you learn to do it our way, but at least until you’re out of school you have to pretend to do it their way." Charlie Munger

"I dropped out of college" Allan Mecham

"Party like crazy and don’t make the grades your highest priority. Make the friendships and your experiences most important." Ray Dalio

"Everyone has the idea of owning good companies. The problem is that they have high prices in relations to assets and earnings, and that takes all of the fun out of the game. If all you needed to do is to figure out what company is better than others, everyone would make a lot of money. But that is not the case. They keep raising the prices to the point when the odds change. I always knew that, but they were teaching my colleagues that the market is so efficient that no one can beat it. I knew people in Omaha who beat the pari-mutuel system. I never went near a business school, so my mind wasn’t polluted by this craziness. People are trying to be smart—all I am trying to do is not to be idiotic, but it’s harder than most people think.” Charlie Munger

“Everyone has the brainpower to follow the stock market. If you made it through fifth-grade math, you can do it.”   Peter Lynch

“Being open-minded is far more important than being bright or smart” Ray Dalio

"Everyone is wrong some of the time.  It is hard for smart people to admit a mistake"  David Einhorn

"I'm not smarter or more educated than most investors. I'm just more rational" Francois Rochon

"I am not sure that I am that smart, I think we work harder." Sir Michael Hintze

"Independent thinking, emotional stability, and a keen understanding of both human and institutional behaviour is vital to long term investment success.  I've seen a lot of very smart people who have lacked these virtues"  Warren Buffett

"I've never been bright. I was just industrious, I guess is the right word for it" Sir John Templeton

"I sometimes ask myself, ‘If you had the choice between either Oxford/HBS and the education that you get around Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Ben Graham, etc.’ I think hands down Charlie Munger, Ben Graham and all of that is much better, for me at least." Guy Spier

"The academic approach to portfolio management, corporate finance, et cetera, et cetera, is very interesting. It’s a lot like Long-Term Capital Management. How can people so smart do such silly things? And yet, that’s the way it is." Charlie Munger

"I would say the business school training, particularly in investments, was a handicap about 20 years ago when they were preaching efficient market theory because essentially they told you it didn’t do any good to try and figure out what a company was worth because the market had a price perfectly already. Imagine paying, you know, 30 or $40,000 a year to hear that." Warren Buffett

"Surprisingly, in business the best are not studied as closely as in other fields like medicine, the law, politics, or sports"  William Thorndike

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with a 130 IQ.  Rationality is essential" Warren Buffett

"There's a baseline IQ level needed to work at my firm, but I don't need rocket scientists. After that, what predicts your success in my world is drive, energy, attitude, judgement, conviction, and passion. And an ability to cut to the centre of an issue. I'd trade another twenty IQ points for those qualities any day" Sam Zell

"There is nothing reliable to be learned about making money.  If there were, study would be intense and everyone with a positive IQ would be rich" John Kenneth Gailbraith

"Charlie and I run into more dysfunctional people with 160 IQs, probably, than anybody alive." Warren Buffett

"Investing is not rocket science. Temperament and understanding predictably irrational human nature is likely more important than raw intelligence. It’s a great relief to know I don’t have to be a Stephen Hawking to rise above the tyranny of the crowd. The lone wolf can accomplish the unexpected if he keeps his wits while those around him are losing theirs."  Frank Martin

“Despite the number of actual “rocket scientists” who have flocked to the investment business, securities prices aren’t subject to Newtonian principles, only behavioural ones” Seth Klarman

"Investing certainly requires that we 'do math' .. but's its not rocket science" Christopher Parvese

"At the end of the day, investing is not rocket science.  Productivity and dedication can be much more important differentiators than raw brain power.  Intelligence helps, but whether your driving a Porsche or Ferrari doesn't matter too much if the speed limit is 65MPH" Lee Ainslee

"Value investing requires more effort than brains, and a lot of patience.  It is more grunt work than rocket science.. It merely requires understanding a few sound principles that anyone with an average IQ can master" Chris Browne

"I don't even know how to calculate beta, and one of my unfortunate trajectories in life is that I never got to go to business school.  I never got to learn how to calculate all the Greek letters, beta included" Mohnish Pabrai

"I hated, hated school. I really hated school. I hated school generally, because it was this instruction-following thing. No. I bet you it's probably also because I wasn't good at it. I mean I suspect I wasn't good at it." Ray Dalio

"It wasn't like I was a bad student. I just didn't take it [high school] seriously" David Tepper

"A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments. That is why we say that having a certain kind of temperament is more important than brains. You need to keep raw irrational emotion under control.”  Charlie Munger

"In terms of IQ, probably the best investors fall somewhere above the bottom ten percent but also below the top three percent.  The true geniuses, it seems to me, get too enamoured of theoretical cogitations and are forever betrayed by the actual behaviour of stocks, which is more simple minded than they can imagine" Peter Lynch

"What’s gone on in corporate finance teaching is that people are getting paid for dispensing balderdash.  And since I never believed that it was a great help to me, it helps if you’re out in the market and the other people are believing balderdash and you know what the hell’s going on.  It’s a big help." Charlie Munger

"There is convincing evidence that a PhD in economics or finance causes people to build vastly more fragile portfolios"  Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"The conformist is not born. He is made. I believe the brainwashing process begins in the schools and colleges" J P Getty

"I believe that our society's "mistakephobia" is crippling, a problem that begins in most elementary schools, where we learn to learn what we are taught rather than to form our own goals and to figure out how to achieve them.  We are fed with facts and tested and those who make the fewest mistakes are considered to be the smart ones, so we learn it is embarrassing to not know and to make mistakes.  Our education system spends virtually no time on how to learn from mistakes, yet this is critical to real learning.  As a result, school typically doesn't prepare young people for real life - unless their lives are spent following instructions and pleasing others.  In my opinion, that's why so many students who succeed in school fail in life" Ray Dalio

“I went to public schools and knew that I was unlikely ever to be able to get into an Ivy League college” Marty Whitman

"I returned to Wharton for my second year of graduate school more skeptical than ever about the value of academic stock-market theory.   It seemed to me that most of what I learned at Wharton, which was supposed to help you succeed in the investment business, could only help you fail.  I studied statistics, advanced calculus, and quantitative analysis.  Quantitative analysts taught me that the things I saw happening at Fidelity couldn't really be happening"  Peter Lynch

“STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] is a very important part of a global education world and we should not diminish STEM education.  But we should remember when you get a good education you should get a good humanities and arts education as well.  Because the skills you get of solving problems, of learning how to communicate, things that you just can’t necessarily get from STEM is very important.  We don’t want people to be just STEM majors and not get the others things out of college, or life that are so valuable.    I’d rather hire a history major sometimes than an engineering major.  I want people who can think on their feet, people that can communicate, that can solve problems”  David Rubenstein

"Our experience with newly-minted MBA's has not been that great.  Their academic records always look terrific and the candidates always know just what to say; but too often they are short on personal commitment to the company and general business savvy.  It's difficult to teach a new dog old tricks"  Warren Buffett

“This skill is not something that they teach in business school.”  Paul Tudor Jones

“At a lot of business schools they teach a lot of nonsense called risk-adjusted returns and diversification"  Stanley Druckenmiller

"I wasn't the best student in college, and I don't have an MBA"  Dan Loeb

"I hated school because I liked to daydream and the system tried to stop me from that" Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"I was an ok student at best, not a Harvard or Stanford guy and always try to “listen” instead of hear." Marc Cohodes

"Isaac Newton lost a chunk of his net worth in the South Sea Bubble. So he invested in an absolute crooked mania. And here was the smartest man in the world. So just IQ points alone won’t do it." Charlie Munger

"We're not talking about brain surgery here. This is finance -- add, subtract, multiply, and divide" Stephen Shwarzman

"In my life there are not that many questions I can’t properly deal with using my $40 adding machine and dog-eared compound interest table" Charlie Munger

"Unencumbered by the received wisdom of a business education, I had to figure things out for myself.  If you think things through for yourself, you may waste some time, you also may stumble onto something that has been ignored or disregarded.  Doing so has enabled me to look at the financial world with fresh eyes"  Leon Levy

"Because of circumstances, I was largely self taught and that led me to think differently.  First, rather  than subscribing to widely accepted views - such as you can't beat the casinos - I checked for myself"  Ed Thorp

"Nothing in the American business school teaches people to be like Berkshire." Charlie Munger

"In this business, it's not about sheer brain power, SAT scores, or an MBA from a leading business school. Those factors help and of course are nice to have, but they do not guarantee success by any stretch"  Alex Sacerdote

"To invest successfully, you need not understand beta, efficient markets, modern portfolio theory, option pricing, or emerging markets.  You may, in fact, be better off knowing nothing of these.  That, of course is not the prevailing view at most business schools, whose finance curriculum tends to be dominated by such subjects.  In out view, though, investment students need only know two well-taught courses - How to Value a Business, and How to Think About Markets" Warren Buffett

"With no disrespect to your school or mine, it probably mattered less about which school we chose and more about what we did when we got there.  Whether someone goes to Columbia, Harvard, Chicago or wherever, is not the most important factor.  If you go to a good school, you will get out of it what you put into it." Larry Robbins

"Would-be investors can take courses in finance and accounting, read widely and, if they are fortunate, receive mentoring from someone with a deep understanding of the investment process.  But only a few of them will achieve the superior insight, intuition, sense of value and awareness of psychology that are required for consistently above-average results.  Doing so requires second level thinking" Howard Marks

"I think to some extent, before you're going to be a great stock picker, you need some general education" Charlie Munger

"I always think emotional control during periods of extreme is really the most important thing. If it was all about IQ points, then every Mensa member would be a billionaire, but it doesn’t work that way. The ability to separate out market price volatility from a conclusion about the underlying company is fairly rare, even for professionals who have been in the game for a long, long time." Larry Pitkowsky

“Plenty of academic finance work is useful and has pushed the industry in the right direction. But its main purpose is often intellectual stimulation and to impress other academics. I don’t blame them for this or look down upon them for it. We should just recognize it for what it is.” Morgan Housel

"I used to think being great at investing long-term was about genius...Genius is still good, but more and more I think it's about doing something reasonable, that makes sense, and then sticking to it with incredible fortitude through the tough times." Cliff Asness

"The good news is that you don’t need to be a genius to do well in the stock market" Francois Rochon

“I get flack for saying [when I visit a college and give a speech], “This is a nice college, but the really great educator is McDonald’s.” They hate me for saying this and think I’m a slimy creature. But McDonald’s hires people with bad work habits, trains them, and teaches them to come to work on time and have good work habits. I think a lot of what goes on there is better than at Harvard.” Charlie Munger

"You can make a lot more money by making more phone calls than everyone else than you can by just being brilliant"  Josh Friedman

"The good thing about business is you don’t have to know any high math." Charlie Munger

“I would say that journalism was the single most important element of my development as a trader and as a businessman, more so than any of the economics classes I took at the University of Virginia.  Newspaper journalism teaches you how to fact find, analyse, and condense a story down to its most essential points and then to communicate those in a series of paragraphs that read from the most important to the least important” Paul Tudor Jones

"The most useful and practical part of psychology—which I personally think can be taught to any intelligent person in a week—is ungodly important. And nobody taught it to me by the way. I had to learn it later in life, one piece at a time. And it was fairly laborious. It's so elementary though that, when it was all over, I felt like a fool.  And yeah, I'd been educated at Cal Tech and the Harvard Law School and so forth. So very eminent places miseducated people like you and me." Charlie Munger

“I’m definitely not a financial genius, my mathematics are really poor.  I hardly know how to multiply.  What I did best, which was a sort of surprise to me,  was putting teams of great people together.  Finding great people, incentivizing them, working together with them, giving them  a chance to shine and enabling them.  That’s the most important thing, and dreaming big with them.  It wasn’t something I knew, I was basically a tennis player and a surfer” Jorge Paulo Lehman, 3G

"You need to have a passionate interest in why things are happening.  That cast of mind, kept over long periods, gradually improves your ability to focus on reality.  If you don't have that cast of mind, you're destined for failure even if you have a high I.Q" Charlie Munger

"I don't want to dismiss the importance of academic credentials, but we want bright people who are really diligent and hardworking, but also have real tenacity and grit who enjoy what they do and have an incredible passion for investing" Dan Loeb

"A phrase like “cost of capital,” which means different things to different people, and often means silly things to people who teach in business schools, we just don’t use it. Warren’s definition of behaving in a corporation, so that every dollar retained tends to create more than a dollar of market value for the shareholders, is probably the best way of describing cost of capital. That is not what they mean in business schools." Warren Buffett

"At City College, the only course in which I ever got an A+ was abnormal psychology.  What better preparation could there be to tackle the role of psychology in markets?" Leon Levy

"My situation was, I did terribly in high school.  I hated high school.  I just wouldn't study.  I would remember that my mother would send me to my room and say, "You have to study," and I wouldn't study. I would do anything, I would be alone in the room.  I would find something to think about or do and I wouldn't study, and I did terrible in high school.  I barely got into college" Ray Dalio

"I think business schools have taught students a lot of nonsense about investments"  Warren Buffett

"If you think psychology is badly taught in America, you should look at corporate finance. Modern portfolio theory? It's demented." Charlie Munger

"To emit a Yogiberism, in academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world, there is." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"Now I'm sure I learned plenty at Oxford and Harvard Business School, but I don't think they helped me much professionally.  I'm sure I'm a better human being but they did not help me with investing"  Guy Spier

"There is so much that’s false and nutty in modern investment practice, and in modern investment banking, and in modern academia in the business schools, even in the Economics departments, that if you just reduce the nonsense, that’s all I think you should reasonably hope for." Charlie Munger

“This is ostensibly coming from a guy who ostensibly went to a trade school…..   I’m a big believer in liberal arts education.  I find it’s those English courses, sociology courses, those art-history classes, that if you were lucky enough to have taken they stay with you more.  That’s more universal knowledge.  You want to be a master of many talents.  ” James Dinan

"I don't look at people's resume - whether they went to the best college or not. That doesn't really tell you.  It's [about], does the person have the conviction that they're going to stick through thick and thin, that they will stick with it no matter what happens and never give up? Period. You got that, you're on" Arnold Van Den Berg

“If you have enough sense to become a mental adult yourself, you can run rings around people smarter than you. Just pick up key ideas from all the disciplines, not just a few, and you’re immensely wiser than they are.” Charlie  Munger

“I myself would prefer PHD’s working for me, but that would stand for poor, hungry and driven.  Because I did not learn my drive from Columbia or Hunter College, it’s something innate” Leon Cooperman

"You need a certain level of intelligence, but you don't need to be very bright.  I don't consider myself very bright.  I never did well on intelligence tests.  My mother took me to one of the best child psychologists after the war because I had a lot of problems, and he felt that I was permanently damaged in the brain because of malnutrition.  I always had this image of myself that I wasn't very smart, and the way I did in school proved that I wasn't.  But: Once I realised that if you dedicate yourself and you commit yourself, you can learn anything"  Arnold Van Den Berg

"I am not a person who is formally trained in investments. I didn’t get an MBA, I didn’t go to business school. Basically I learned from studying Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, and I studied them carefully." Mohnish Pabrai

"What I learned over the years was that academic achievements and objective measures of ability were far less important than behaviours and attitude.  The talents that really matter are often the softer skills such as the ability to work collaboratively in a team, to have the confidence to allow you to be independent and creative, and to know when to ask for help." Colm O'Shea

“Lots of people are very, very smart in terms of passing tests and making rapid calculations, but they just make one asinine decision after another because they have terrible streaks of nuttiness.” Charlie Munger

"[Successful investing] requires qualities of temperament way more than it requires qualities of intellect. I mean, if you’ve got more than 125 IQ, you can throw away the rest of the points or give them to your other members of the family or do something because you don’t need it in investing." Warren Buffett