22 Insights From The Most Successful Investors In History

Ray Dalio

Photo: CFR screengrab

What are investors to do as stocks sit near their 5-year highs?There are plenty of pundits out there that’ll give you tons of reasons to buy or sell.

But perhaps now is the perfect time to step back and consider the sage advice of history’s most successful investors.

We’ve collected some of the finest wisdom on markets from the most respected and successful investors, past and present.  

George Soros: Good investing is boring.

'If investing is entertaining, if you're having fun, you're probably not making any money. Good investing is boring.'

Source: Winning Investment Habits Of Warren Buffet And George Soros

Howard Marks: Investing is about more than selecting the asset.

'Smart investing doesn't consist of buying good assets, but of buying assets well. This is a very, very important distinction that very, very few people understand. '

Source: Advisor Perspectives

Jack Bogle: Losses are a reality of the market.

'If you have trouble imaging a 20% loss in the stock market, you shouldn't be in stocks.'

Source: ritholtz.com

Bob Farrell: Don't join the herd.

'The public buys the most at the top and the least at the bottom.' And, 'When all the experts and forecasts agree -- something else is going to happen.'

Source: Marketwatch

Jeremy Grantham: recognise your advantage over professionals.

'By far the biggest problem for professionals in investing is dealing with career and business risk: protecting your own job as an agent. The second curse of professional investing is over-management caused by the need to be seen to be busy, to be earning your keep. The individual is far better-positioned to wait patiently for the right pitch while paying no regard to what others are doing, which is almost impossible for professionals.'

Source: GMO

John Templeton: Don't forget about taxes.

'For all long-term investors, there is only one objective -- maximum total real return after taxes.'

Source: Advisor Perspectives

Barton Biggs: There are no relationships or equations that always work.

'Quantitatively based solutions and asset allocation equations invariably fail as they are designed to capture what would have worked in the previous cycle whereas the next one remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma.'

Source: Barton Biggs via The Gartman Letter

Benjamin Graham: Beware of forecasts.

'It is absurd to think that the general public can ever make money out of market forecasts.'

Source: The Intelligent Investor

Philip Fisher: Know the value of your investments.

Warren Buffett: Be greedy when others are fearful.

'Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.'

Source: 2004 shareholder letter

Ken Fisher: Keep history in mind.

'You can't develop a portfolio strategy around endless possibilities. You wouldn't even get out of bed if you considered everything that could possibly happen..... you can use history as one tool for shaping reasonable probabilities. Then, you look at the world of economic, sentiment and political drivers to determine what's most likely to happen--while always knowing you can be and will be wrong a lot.'

Source: Markets Never Forget (But People Do)

Charles Ellis: Invest for the long run.

'The average long-term experience in investing is never surprising, but the short term experience is always surprising. We now know to focus not on rate of return, but on the informed management of risk'

Source: Winning The Loser's Game

Bill Miller: Think about how the market reflects information.

'The market does reflect the available information, as the professors tell us. But just as the funhouse mirrors don't always accurately reflect your weight, the markets don't always accurately reflect that information. Usually they are too pessimistic when it's bad, and too optimistic when it's good.'

Source: 2006 Letter to Shareholders

Thomas Rowe Price Jr.: Know who's running the business, and why.

Carl Icahn: The corporate governance system is not your friend.

Peter Lynch: Do your homework.

'Investing without research is like playing stud poker and never looking at the cards.' Source: One Up On Wall Street

John Neff: Do what's smart, not what's popular.

'It's not always easy to do what's not popular, but that's where you make your money. Buy stocks that look bad to less careful investors and hang on until their real value is recognised.' Source: John Neff On Investing

Henry Kravis: Be honest.

'If you don't have integrity, you have nothing. You can't buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.'

Source: Academy of Achievement

Ray Dalio: Understand the system.

'An economy is simply the sum of the transactions that make it up. A transaction is a simple thing. Because
there are a lot of them, the economy looks more complex than it really is. If instead of looking at it from the
top down, we look at it from the transaction up, it is much easier to understand.'

Source: How The Economic Machine Works

BONUS: Isaac Newton: Markets are irrational

'I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.'

Source: Gluskin Sheff

BONUS: Mark Twain: We can learn from the past.

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