FREE KIC - NO. 22 JUL  07

   BOLTON  WANDERER

I have written in the past about Warren Buffett (opinion piece 6 March 06 “Brilliant Buffett”) and I have praised him for his investment style and track record. Although not in the same league as Buffett another investor with a great track record is Anthony Bolton who has worked at Fidelity for almost thirty years.

The Telegraph said the following about him back in 2004:

 In the US, the home of his employers, Anthony Bolton would have been a celebrity. He runs an investment fund of more than £4.3bn, and has consistently not just beaten the stock market, but reduced it to a quivering pulp.

A few months ago he announced that he was going to become less involved in the active management of funds and was going to move into an advisory role with Fidelity. As a result of this announcement there has been a lot of interest in the appointment of his successor(s).

       Anthony Bolton

Last week I happened to listen to an interview he gave where he described his beliefs about the personality traits that made him successful and how this influenced his decision as to who should succeed him.

He said that one of the most important characteristics was to have an analytical mind. He felt that he had the type of personality that loved to dig deep into issues and try to work things out for oneself.

He also said that he was prepared to go against the consensus. He had the type of personality that allowed him to be different from the crowd. In other words he saw himself as a contrarian investor.

He also said that he felt that he was the type of person that learned from his mistakes because inevitably mistakes will be made. He would look at the mistakes he made, analyse them and attempt to make sure that they did not happen in the future.

I have been thinking about what he said because my instinctive reaction was to agree with it. It seemed to describe Warren Buffett and Walter Schloss pretty accurately.

This would suggest that the great investors have certain similarities in their personalities. I then began to wonder how my own personality would fit into this type of analysis? Do I have much in common with Bolton, Buffett and Schloss? Is it far too arrogant to even try to compare my own personality with these greats?

People that know me might have their own opinions about my personality but for people who do not know me very well, I have attempted to give my website and the opinion pieces I write, a real injection of that personality. In that regard I hope I have succeeded because I have attempted to get across my love of digging into things whether it be Japan, Michael O’Leary or analogue semiconductors. I have also attempted to show that I am prepared to have views that are not always the consensus ( being a Birmingham City supporter has prepared me for being different) and finally I have also admitted to making a number of mistakes in my investment career. (In “Confused about Japan Part 2” in April 06 I talked about one of my earliest investment mistakes and that was believing what I was told by Asahi Chemical and Japanese companies in general.)

Just because I think that there is some evidence to suggest that my personality might have some similarities with Anthony Bolton is not going to automatically result in good performance. I realise that there is an awful lot of hard work involved. Anthony Bolton alluded to this when he talked about the amount of time that he spent meeting management of the companies he was interested in. I do not get to do as much of that as I used to. I have been depending far more on the power of the internet and webcasts and so far it does not seem to have hurt performance but only time will tell whether I need to get on the road more often.

In conclusion, I believe that I do share some personality traits with Anthony Bolton but only time will tell whether some of my other traits will counteract the ones we have in common and result in my investing career being more Birmingham City than Manchester United or “Bolton” Wanderers (just as long as its not Monaghan United).


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