7 Timeless Lessons From Peter Cundill’s Biography


I just finished reading Peter Cundills biography There’s Always Something to Do: The Peter Cundill Investment Approach. It’s the story of a great investor who lived life on his own terms and who had a great joie de vivre.

The book contains seven timeless investing lessons.

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1. Follow your passion with conviction and success will follow. Cundill discovered Ben Graham after knocking around in the dark for several years and that was it. He followed the path laid out by Graham with unwavering gusto and built one of the great long-term track records in the process – a compound annual rate of return of 15%+ for over thirty years.

2. Operate from a value-oriented framework and you will make money. This is a time-tested approach that has proven to make big money slowly but surely. The track records of many great investors attest to this fact.

3. Search widely for value. The more rocks you turnover, the greater your chances of finding something worthwhile. Cundill became a global investor and scoured the globe looking for deep value.

4. Get good at scuttlebut. Information is the lifeblood of sound investment decisions. Read broadly. Develop your network. Focus. Cundill was a master of the power of scuttlebut which he used to insure he understood a situation thoroughly before committing precious capital.

5. Be patient. Cundill wrote, “The most important attribute for success in value investing is patience, patience, and more patience. The majority of investors do not posses this characteristic.” Coming from a man like Cundill, this speaks for itself.

6. Keep a journal. Cundill kept a detailed investing journal throughout his career that provides the basis for the book. The process of writing worked to clarify his thoughts and allowed him to look back and grow from his experience and mistakes.

7. Do a yearly post-mortem. Each year, Cundill did a critical analysis of his decisions and performance during the prior year. This was conducted with honesty and humility in an effort to continue to raise the level of his game.