At Affluence we read a lot. It’s a big part of the job. We subscribe to a range of free and paid services. They include newspapers, websites and email subscriptions. We are often asked by investors what we look for and who we find compelling. For us, the answer changes over time, because we continuously rotate our sources of data and commentary. Many of the authors we read provide commentary only for paid subscribers or current investors, and so are not accessible to everyone. But here’s a few well-worn favourites. We have tried to focus on those which are free or offer very good value.
Livewire is free. They encourage some of the best fund managers and other investment minds in Australia to provide stories, or “wires” to the site. They summarise the most popular daily wires in an early morning e-mail. There are other imitators out there, but many of them are dominated by paid content, which is a flawed model in our view. In the interests of full disclosure we should note that Affluence are a regular contributor.
Started by Chris Cuffe and editor Graeme Hand, Cuffelinks provides a free weekly email with a wealth of educational and other content. Cuffelinks aim in their own words to be “a community sharing both the knowledge and the battle scars of experience from an informed and impartial point of view, without pushing products or promoting services”. Some contributors do pay, which helps to keep the service free for everybody else. Each weekly email has plenty of great content and paid articles are kept to a reasonable level. There’s also a range of educational material on the website.
We have been fans of FN Arena for many years. There is a wealth of information on the site and many new articles updated daily. Rudi writes with a clarity few others have, and always presents a wealth of ideas drawn from a life of reading what others write. His weekly column is always compulsory reading for me. Likewise, we regularly read Greg Peels overnight summary. Greg has a knack for making complicated concepts simple and for getting to the bottom of why markets have reacted the way they have. He also regularly provides a laugh early in the morning, for which we are grateful. An FN Arena subscription costs around $400 per year. You can also sign up for a free trial of the service.
The world’s best investors.
There are a plethora of exceptional investors out there who have been investing for a long time and doing very well. Many of them write regular updates and commentary pieces and in many cases you can subscribe for free. Some of our favourites include Howard Marks at Oaktree Capital and Jeremy Grantham at GMO. And, of course, if you haven’t already done so, you should head over to Berkshire Hathaway’s website and read Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s letters, which go back over 30 years and provide many great investment lessons.
We prefer books which deal with major investment ideas, lessons and portfolio construction issues, rather than books about individual stocks or trading. There are many good ones out there. But perhaps you can start by reading “The big short”, by Michael Lewis. It’s a fantastic story of some of the key causes of the global financial crisis and how “while Wall Street was busy creating the biggest credit bubble of all time, a few renegade investors saw it was about to burst, bet against the banking system – and made a fortune.” It is a fantastic story told by one of the most talented financial journalists of our time. In addition, FN Arena publish a good list here and fund manager Cadence Capital publish a list of 52 books to read before buying your next stock here.
Focus on markets, cycles and themes.
There is one lesson which has saved us many hours of fruitless reading over the years. We very rarely read commentators who only forecasts. Instead, we focus on those who talk about markets, historic economic data, cycles and important themes. We learned many years ago that we should concentrate our efforts on trying to find the best and investing with them at the right time in the cycle, rather than predicting the future. We would encourage you to do the same.
And don’t forget…
One last insight. From time to time we step back for a short while and read almost nothing for a few days. It helps focus on the longer term issues and form a view of markets independently of all the noise.
Best of luck. If you have any suggestions you find worthwhile, we would be glad to hear them. Leave a comment below and join in the discussion
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