Successful investing is one of the most difficult and challenging professions there is. Throughout history the best investors seem to enjoy a capacity for memorable quotes that stand the test of time. The ability to clearly communicate their experience has left us with much wisdom and countless quotes to reflect on. It’s one of the great contributions these investing masters have passed on to future generations. There are many to choose from but I’ve managed to narrow down a list of my 9 favorite investing quotes of all time.
“If you want to have a better performance than the crowd, you must do things differently from the crowd.”
“Bull markets are born in pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.”
John Templeton was one of the greatest investors and fund managers ever. He created the Templeton Growth Fund in 1954 and was considered a great stock picker. During the depression of the 1930’s he purchased 100 shares of every stock trading for less than $1 on the New York Stock Exchange.
He eventually became a billionaire by pioneering global mutual funds which helped investors diversify. Templeton was known as a humble man and credited most of his success to remaining frugal even after enormous financial gain. By the end of his life he had given away over $1 billion of his wealth to various charities.
His investing style was known for avoiding the herd and selling shares when prices rose too quickly. Even in his later years he was able to profit from shorting the dot com bubble of the late 1990’s. A few years later he cautioned the housing market was overheating and warned of a crash in the economy. Templeton was one of the great contrarians of all time and helped many people avoid enormous mistakes with their money.
“Those who can not adjust to change will be swept aside by it. Those who recognize change and react accordingly will benefit.”
“There is nothing better than having to struggle and make your own way.”
Jim Rogers is one of the most interesting characters in the investing world over the last five decades. In 1970, Rogers was hired at investment bank Arnhold and S. Bleichroder where he worked with George Soros. Soon after meeting Soros they both set off on their own and founded the Quantum Fund. Huge success during the next ten years returned over 4,200% from the fund and Rogers made a fortune.
Since his Quantum Fund days, Rogers has been busy doing a variety of activities including traveling over 100,000 miles around the world on a motorcycle. Ten years after the motorcycle trip he traveled around the world a second time in a custom made Mercedes with his wife. He wrote one of his best selling books, Adventure Capitalist, after the adventure.
Rogers has become a success by thinking differently and anticipating change. His quote about there being nothing better than to struggle and making your own way is pretty amazing. Most people want the opposite where comfort and an easy life is desired. Rogers confirms the satisfaction from hard work and eventual success is the best reward you can seek.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
Currently one of the richest people on earth, Warren Buffett understands business at a level not many others do. He was taught by another investing legend, Benjamin Graham, to look at stocks as businesses and use market fluctuations to your advantage. To seek a margin of safety by not overpaying for investments is fundamental to Buffett’s success.
Buffett also understood the role of trust and reputation in business. The opportunities he’s encountered over his career by having a solid reputation are numerous. By focusing on the long term he’s been able to not only make solid judgments about investing but also show his strength in character. He’s encouraged people to focus on making thoughtful decisions and treat others with respect.
Many people are familiar with Warren Buffett and the hundreds of investing quotes attributed to the great investor. I would not dare exclude Warren from a list of greatest investing quotes as he is arguably the greatest investing quote machine ever.
“The trick is not to learn to trust your gut feelings, but rather to discipline yourself to ignore them. Stand by your stocks as long as the fundamental story of the company hasn’t changed.”
“The secret of his success is that he never went to business school. Imagina all the lessons he never had to unlearn.”
Peter Lynch was hired as an intern at Fidelity Investments in 1966. He’d been caddying for Fidelity president D. George Sullivan at Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Massachusetts. 11 years later Lynch was named head of the obscure Magellan Fund. At the time he took control of the fund it had $18 million in assets. Over the next 13 years, Lynch would grow the fund to more than $14 billion with an average annual return of 29%.
One of Peter’s first big wins as an investor was Flying Tiger, an air freight company. Gains in this stock helped him pay for graduate school where in 1968 he earned a master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also a bestselling author with his popular investing books ‘One Up on Wall Street’, and ‘Beating the Street’.
“The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists.”
The “father of value investing” had many great investing quotes in his day. Benjamin Graham was a professor, economist and investor who stressed investor psychology, margin of safety and a buy and hold strategy. He understood investing for the long term cured many psychological investor issues. He also preached the ability to resist going along with the crowd.
Graham’s first book was published in 1934 titled, ‘Security Analysis.’ Later he would publish another book, ‘The Intelligent Investor,’ which student Warren Buffett would label, “the best book about investing ever written.” He stressed the idea of buying stocks as a way to invest and partner in businesses and having part ownership in companies. With this mindset he believed you could avoid concerning yourself with the daily fluctuations and sometimes erratic behavior of wall street.
Graham talked about ‘Mr. Market’, and how investment is most successful when it is businesslike rather than based on speculation. He believed investors are neither right or wrong because the crowd agrees or disagrees but because the analysis is correct. He was also outspoken about irregular accounting financial reporting which made it difficult to analyze certain securities. One of the most read investors, the “father of value investing” has at least 9 favorite investing quotes of all time attributed to his name alone.
The common theme with Graham and most other world class investors is the ability to separate yourself from the trends and act without emotion. I love the Graham quote highlighted above because it encourages neither optimism or pessimism to find success.
“There are plenty of ways to get ahead. The first is so basic I’m almost embarrassed to say it: spend less than you earn”
Paul Clitheroe is an advocate for financial education and literacy. He’s been a financial analyst, adviser, publisher and media personality for many years. His quote above is mostly personal finance advice but I think it’s a great reminder in investing as well.
When businesses do not operate with financial discipline there’s usually trouble ahead. Famous investors throughout history have made fortunes finding companies who did not take Clitheroe’s quote seriously. When I think about the basic rule of finance for anything it really comes down to this quote. “Spend less than you earn”, applies to every person and business throughout history. Even billionaires have a budget that must be managed or financial ruin will catch up with them.
Weather it’s Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett or Peter Lynch, professional investors are responsible for researching and detecting companies who fail to manage their balance sheets. This quote by Paul Clitheroe reminds all of us to be a diligent manager of our income and expenses, regardless of the number of zero’s in the amounts.
“I like to say, “Experience is what you got when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
Howard Marks is not only a legendary investor but also one of the best communicators of investing. For decades Marks has written books and shareholder letters containing an absolute goldmine in life lessons and investing wisdom.
After working for a few investment banks, Marks set off on his own to start Oaktree Capital in 1995. His net worth of almost $2 billion was made mostly focusing on high-yield bonds, distressed debt and private equity. He scored a huge payday during the 2008 financial crisis when he put to work billions of dollars buying debt as the market plummeted and eventually recovered.
Marks continues to write on a regular basis with his “memos to Oaktree clients,” where he covers a variety of topics. Much of his writing is spent attempting to identify what phase is currently underway in the economic cycle. He also is known to include personal lessons he’s picked up throughout his career. A list of 9 favorite investing quotes of all time would not be complete without Howard Marks.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Marks is his ability to discuss his failures along with his successes, something not many investors feel comfortable doing. He appreciates his losses as they have led to lessons learned which he has carried forward and benefited from.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
One of the most fascinating characters in history also has a list of the greatest quotes attributed to his name. His titles include polymath, Founding Fathers of the United States, inventor, diplomat, scientist and humorist, to name just a few. He became a newspaper editor and printer at the young age of 23 where began to spearhead many of the unpopular laws from the Parliament of Great Britain.
He became wealthy publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanac, which he penned under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”.
Franklin began exploring the use of electricity in 1746 after attending lectures on the topic. He studied the concept of positive and negative charges which led to something he called an “electric battery”.
He studied many other topics throughout his life such as studies in population growth, Atlantic Ocean currents and wave theory of light. The concept of cooling in refrigeration, meteorology and traction kiting were other topics he was known for indulging himself with. Not only is he included in the list of 9 favorite investing quotes of all time but he could have his own list of one hundred great quotes.
After his amazing life full of critical thinking, leadership, invention and curious investigations it’s evident he believed an investment in knowledge was truly most valuable.
“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.”
Mark Twain had an amazing life full of achievement and success. He also had failures and setbacks which are well documented. He earned large sums of money from his lectures and writings but invested in ventures that lost a great deal of it. Twain filed for bankruptcy but eventually bounced back and paid all his creditors in full even though his bankruptcy didn’t require he paid back his debts.
He invested and lost money in a publishing house, Charles L. Webster and Company, when a biography of Pope Leo XIII sold fewer than 200 copies. A new invention caught the eye of Twain called the Paige typesetting machine. After $300,000 over 14 years the overly complicated machine was rendered obsolete. Not only was his investment gone but a substantial portion of his wife’s inheritance was also lost.
Some of his biggest contributions have been simplifying some of life’s most complicating challenges through simple and clear writing. He was considered the “greatest humorist this country has ever produced”, William faulkner called him “the father of american literature”.
From Mark Twain to Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett to Jim Rogers, these legendary investors had a knack for making big decisions when stakes were highest. It’s important to research and acknowledge the thoughtful advice they have left behind. Hopefully these 9 favorite investing quotes of all time lead you to many other sources of wisdom.