10 of the greatest investors of all time - part 1

Some people were born to do it and have earned legendary status through their strategies. WP takes a look at some top performers over the years in part one of this series

10 of the greatest investors of all time - part 1

John Bogle

More commonly known as “Jack”, Bogle revolutionized the mutual world by creating index investing. He founded Vanguard Group and his philosophy was underpinned by an intent to make investing easier and at a low cost for the average investor.

His Vanguard 500 fund, which tracks the returns of the S&P 500, was the first index fund marketed to retail investors. His Common Sense on Mutual funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor book is regarded as a classic.

What he said: “Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack.”

Warren Buffett

Few people will need an introduction to Buffett. Known as The “Oracle of Omaha”, he is one of the most successful investors of all time, running Berkshire Hathaway which owns more than 60 companies.

He follows the Benjamin Graham school of value investing, which looks for securities whose prices are unjustifiably low based on their intrinsic worth. Rather than obsess over the intricacies of the stock market, he looks at companies as a whole.

The son of a U.S. congressman, he bought his first stock at 11 and filed taxes at 13. He still lives in the same Omaha home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500.

What he said: “It's only when the tide goes out that you discover who's been swimming naked.”

Benjamin Graham

Hailed for his defining book, The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book of Value Investing, Graham is the ultimate doyen of investing. He evaluated companies with surgical precision, often pointing out the irrational group think that was rampant in the stock market.

In principles that Buffett, among thousands others, took to heart, Graham concentrated on the real-life performance of companies and their dividends rather than market sentiment. Crucially, he believed investors should look for price discrepancies – when the market price is less than a company's intrinsic value.

What he said: “Wall Street people learn nothing and forget everything.”

Philip Fisher

A 20th-century American investor who authored the book Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and who is credited with the idea of analyzing stocks based on their growth potential using fundamental analysis.

Fisher’s investment philosophy was simple in its quest: purchase a concentrated portfolio of companies with compelling growth prospects that you understand very well and hold them for a long time. His most famous stock pick was Motorola, which he bought in 1955 and held until his death in 2004.

What he said: “If the job has been correctly done when a common stock is purchased, the time to sell it is almost never.”

Bill Gross

Gross co-founded PIMCO in 1971 and became known as a superstar bond fund manager. He left in 2014 and joined Janus Henderson to manage a global macro bond fund. He retired in March 2019.

A larger than life character – he has been in the news recently over a bitter divorce and fallout with neighbour – he credits his skills and risk instincts to blackjack. After earning his degree, Gross set out to Vegas where he worked at the blackjack tables, counting cards for up to 16 hours a day. He learnt that taking too much leverage and having too much debt will bring the house of cards tumbling down.

What he said: “Bond investors are the vampires of the investment world. They love decay, recession — anything that leads to low inflation and the protection of the real value of their loans.”