Archive for March, 2007

20th March
2007
written by simplelight

Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders is always compelling investment insight. His 2006 letter contains this gem:

In 2006, promises and fees hit new highs. A flood of money went from institutional investors to the 2-and-20 crowd. For those innocent of this arrangement, let me explain: It’s a lopsided system whereby 2% of your principal is paid each year to the manager even if he accomplishes nothing – or, for that matter, loses you a bundle – and, additionally, 20% of your profit is paid to him if he succeeds, even if his success is due simply to a rising tide. For example, a manager who achieves a gross return of 10% in a year will keep 3.6 percentage points – two points off the top plus 20% of the residual 8 points – leaving only 6.4 percentage points for his investors. On a $3 billion fund, this 6.4% net “performance” will deliver the manager a cool $108 million. He will receive his bonanza even though an index fund might have returned 15% to investors in the same period and charged them only a token fee. [...]

Its effects bring to mind the old adage: When someone with experience proposes a deal to someone with money, too often the fellow with money ends up with the experience, and the fellow with experience ends up with theĀ  money.

I have written about this broad daylight heist before but it continues to astonish me that people aren’t aghast at the inequity of the system.