Aquamarine Fund founder Spier, widely known for his shared victory in the 2007 auction of a lunch appointment with Warren Buffett, shows how the legendary investor from Omaha became an example, guide and mentor in his own journey to master the secrets of value investing.
Educated in economics at Oxford University and Harvard Business School, where he excelled, the author assumed he would transition smoothly into a fast-track career on Wall Street. However, Spier began with disillusionment. At his first job, he found the aroma of corruption unacceptable and left. Later, that company’s officers were indicted on 173 counts of stock fraud. The author escaped the worst, but he understood that he was “potentially teetering on the edge of a moral cliff.” He also began to realize that his education had not provided him with either the knowledge or practical skills to survive in the modern financial world. Consequently, Spier decided to build his own company, using Buffett as his model. Later, he established a friendship with another fan of Buffett's investing methods, Mohnish Prabai, who shared the 2007 auction victory with Spier. The author writes that he learned an important lesson at that lunch. “Seeing him in person that day,” he writes, “I was left with no doubt at all that I could ever hope to match him.” But rather than competing with Buffett, Spier aimed to change his lifestyle and become the best he could be, beginning an “inner journey” for “true value” and meaning that goes beyond just making money. For the author, this includes philanthropy and generous donation to charities, including San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church, favored by Buffett, and his friend Prabai's Dakshana Foundation, which educates children in India.
A wide-ranging journey in which money isn’t everything, but it sure does seem to help.