HOW DO YOU READ SO MANY BOOKS?
So many people ask us, how do you have time to read all of these books? The short answer is we don’t. That’s why we read books using an audio format. This means I can do two things at the same time – driving my car, doing dishes, working in the yard. The best way to read audio books is through Amazon’s Audible service.
Reading is hands-down the most important element to a person’s success. Further more, I find books to be much more important than “article reading”. The reason is it forces people to focus. In today’s day and age so many people have enormous distractors that make them bounce from one idea to the next. This is a dangerous environment because the knowledge people are acting on is skin-deep. Not having any substance beneath your understanding of the complex systems in this world means you might be making superficial decisions and potential mistakes in your thinking. At the end of the day, we want to answer this question: What are the fundamental attributes that give something its essence? Understanding the essence of complex systems allows individuals to be more creative, efficient, and productive. That’s why we read books.
We personally use an application called Audible to listen to our books. This program is the best because it provides the cheapest price and the largest inventory of books. Audibles is owned and operated by Amazon.com.
As a TIP user, if you sign-up for Audibles through this link, you will get a free book. If you don’t like the application, simply delete your account within 30 days and you won’t be charged a thing. We recently read the book, Thinking Fast and Slow. The book cost $40 to own the audio CD. If you use our link, you can download it for free with no obligation.
Enjoy this tremendous tool – it’s been the most valuable asset in our entire toolbox.
HOW I CONDUCT RESEARCH AND WHY
USE A CHECKLIST
As a former attack helicopter pilot, there was nothing more important than my checklist. With investing, I look at things the exact same way. In fact, it’s not just me, Mohnish Pabria, Guy Spier, and countless other multi-million dollar investors do the same thing. Before I conduct any stock purchase, I reference my one page checklist and ensure each criteria is met. It might sound elementary, but it’s a great way for me to mitigate any undue risks. Here’s a link to download our checklist , but you’ll need to sign-up for our mailing list to get it.
FOR ANALYSIS: MORNINGSTAR
My primary tool for research is MorningStar. I like MorningStar for four main reasons:
- Their information and financial tools are accurate
- The layout of their site is intuitive and very useful
- Their CFA writers are very good and they use DCF models to determine Intrinsic Value.
- MorningStar doesn’t have the financial planner bias
For starters, I think that MorningStar’s executive, Pat Dorsey, is one of the best investors out there, and he has constructed the site in a manner that makes sense. Read Dorsey’s book and you’ll quickly agree. Without a membership (using the site for free), you can really gain a lot of information and conduct fantastic research. I find that MorningStar’s numbers are the most accurate – many websites like Google or MSN Money have countless mistakes.
Should you pay for a Premium Account? So that’s a tough one. I really think it depends on how serious you are and how much you plan on investing. I personally have a premium account with MorningStar because I think they provide enormous value to my financial decisions each month. With a premium account, you get access to MorningStar’s Certified Financial Analysts CFAs (the Jedi Knights of accounting). I find their exclusive reports very accurate and I use their reports to back-up my own intrinsic value calculations and risk assessments. Just so you know, getting a CFA is extremely difficult and very few people have one – most people in the finance industry have a CFP – Chartered Financial Planner (a completely different certification). The reports by the MorningStar CFAs often highlight risks that I missed in my own cursory reviews. The reports provide an intrinsic value estimate (or fair Value Estimate), and a buy/sell price range. I find their assessments to be accurate and based on Discount Cash Flow (DCF) models that are relative to the current estimated returns on the S&P 500. Another thing I particularly like is the Economic Moat discussion that each report provides. When you talk about Warren Buffett and the importance of competitive advantage, you’ll quickly realize this is one of his most important variables because it determines the company’s ability to sustain future business and margins. In the premium reports, the CFA’s have an entire section that addresses the “Economic Moat” or competitive advantage of each business. In short, these analysts are dedicated to individual companies and immerse themselves in the company’s performance. Most importantly, they aren’t trying to sell you on any particular fund or stock that serves their own self-interest (like many CFPs at large brokerage firms). Unfortunately, the reports are only available to premium members. Since the service cost $199 a year, I’m sure many people might be hesitant to try it out. Hey, it beats the heck out of a Bloomberg Terminal ($30,000 a year!). Regardless of the price, if you use this link, you can try it out, 14 days for free. If you’re on the fence after 14 days, simply cancel it. This way you reduce your risk (of $199 annually), and you get a feel for the value it might add to your investment decisions.
FOR CURRENT EVENTS: REAL VISION TV
This is a question we often get: “How do you stay so current and get great ideas for investing?” With so much information flowing through the media at 30-second increments (or as some say – 30 second pitches), it’s really hard to know what’s noise versus valuable information. This is why we are huge fans and subscribers of Real Vision TV. This is a service that conducts 30 – 60 minute full-length interviews with the titans of finance. This service is very different from the typical business news channels for three main reasons.
#1 – The individuals conducting the interviews are two former hedge fund managers that are extremely knowledgeable. They ask intelligent and informed questions that get to the critical variables of a specific trade or investment. By the way, they actually let the guests speak and answer complex questions! (Very different than the generic questions and constant interruptions of typical journalists)
#2 – The interviews are real, full-length discussion, not a quick segment to capture headlines and clicks to sell advertising. It will feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation you’re not suppose to have access to. The site comes out with five new full-length discussions every week. I typically watch a new interview during the night of every weekday. This has expanded my level of understanding and breadth of knowledge to exponential levels.
#3 – The individuals being interviewed manage substantial sums of money. In most cases the guests on the show manage hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions. I would say this is the most compelling reason to join the service because the quality of guests is superior to anything I have ever seen.
*Note: The service has a superior application for your smart phone so you can download the videos via Wifi at home and watch them remotely at anytime. This works great to minimize your cellular data usage and provides a better opportunity to capture all the amazing content at more convenient times in your busy schedule/long commute.
As a TIP user you can get a 7-day trial for free using the bonus code “TIP” (short for The Investors Podcast) and even get a 10% discount. If you don’t like the service simply delete your account within the trial period without any cost to you at all.