Por lo que veo, en la cartas que escribe Warren Buffett a los inversores de Berkshire escribe algunos párrafos con consejos para los inversores no profesionales.
En la carta de este año se puede leer:
"Our investment results have been helped by a terrific tailwind. During the 1964-2014 period, the S&P 500 rose from 84 to 2,059, which, with reinvested dividends, generated the overall return of 11,196% shown on page 2. Concurrently, the purchasing power of the dollar declined a staggering 87%. That decrease means that it now takes $1 to buy what could be bought for 13¢ in 1965 (as measured by the Consumer Price Index).
There is an important message for investors in that disparate
performance between stocks and dollars. Think back to our 2011
annual report, in which we defined investing as “the transfer to
others of purchasing power now with the reasoned expectation of
receiving more purchasing power – after taxes have been paid on
gains – in the future.”
The unconventional, but inescapable, conclusion to be drawn from
the past fifty years is that it has been far safer to invest
in a diversified collection of American businesses than to invest
in securities – Treasuries, for example – whose values have been
tied to American currency. That was also true in the
preceding half-century, a period including the Great Depression and
two world wars. Investors should heed this history. To one degree
another it is almost certain to be repeated during the next century.
Stock prices will always be far more volatile than cash-equivalent holdings. Over the long term, however, currency-denominated instruments are riskier investments – far riskier investments – than widely-diversified stock portfolios that are bought over time and that are owned in a manner invoking only token fees and commissions. That lesson has not customarily been taught in business schools, where volatility is almost universally used as a proxy for risk. Though this pedagogic assumption makes for easy teaching, it is dead wrong: Volatility is far from synonymous with risk. Popular formulas that equate the two terms lead students, investors and CEOs astray.
It is true, of course, that owning equities for a day or a week or a year is far riskier (in both nominal and purchasing-power terms) than leaving funds in cash-equivalents. That is relevant to certain investors – say, investment banks – whose viability can be threatened by declines in asset prices and which might be forced to sell securities during depressed markets. Additionally, any party that might have meaningful near-term needs for funds should keep appropriate sums in Treasuries or insured bank deposits.
For the great majority of investors, however, who can – and should – invest with a multi-decade horizon, quotational declines are unimportant. Their focus should remain fixed on attaining significant gains in purchasing power over their investing lifetime. For them, a diversified equity portfolio, bought over time, will prove far less risky than dollar-based securities.
If the investor, instead, fears price volatility, erroneously
viewing it as a measure of risk, he may, ironically, end up doing
some very risky things. Recall, if you will, the pundits who six
years ago bemoaned falling stock prices and advised investing in
“safe” Treasury bills or bank certificates of deposit. People who
heeded this sermon are now earning a pittance on sums they had
previously expected would finance a pleasant retirement. (The
S&P 500 was then below 700; now it is about 2,100.) If not for
their fear of meaningless price volatility, these investors could
have assured themselves of a good income for life by simply buying a
very low-cost index fund whose dividends would trend upward over the
years and whose principal would grow as well (with many ups
downs, to be sure).
Investors, of course, can, by their own behavior, make stock
ownership highly risky. And many do. Active trading, attempts to
“time” market movements, inadequate diversification, the payment of
high and unnecessary fees to managers and advisors, and the use of
borrowed money can destroy the decent returns that a life-long owner
of equities would otherwise enjoy. Indeed, borrowed money has no
place in the investor’s tool kit: Anything can
happen anytime in markets. And no advisor, economist, or TV commentator – and definitely not Charlie nor I – can tell you when chaos will occur. Market forecasters will fill your ear but will never fill your wallet.
The commission of the investment sins listed above is not limited to “the little guy.” Huge institutional investors, viewed as a group, have long underperformed the unsophisticated index-fund investor who simply sits tight for decades. A major reason has been fees: Many institutions pay substantial sums to consultants who, in turn, recommend high-fee managers. And that is a fool’s game.
There are a few investment managers, of course, who are very good
– though in the short run, it’s difficult to determine whether a
great record is due to luck or talent. Most advisors, however, are
far better at generating high fees than they are at generating high
returns. In truth, their core competence is salesmanship. Rather
than listen to
their siren songs, investors – large and small – should instead read Jack Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.
Decades ago, Ben Graham pinpointed the blame for investment failure, using a quote from Shakespeare: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”