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George Athanassakos: The Character Of Value Investors

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George Athanassakos, Ben Graham Chair in Value Investing, presented at the Ben Graham Centre for Value Investing‘s 2019 Value Investing Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Athanassakos discussed the topic “The Character of Value Investors”.

George Athanassakos: The Character Of Value Investors

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As many of you know I hold the Ben Graham Chair in Value Investing. The chair I was endowed by Mr. Prem Watsa of  FairFax Financial. He's going to join us in a minute. My mandate has been to develop an academic program in value investing and spread the word of value investing to academics and the public because academics don't know much about value investing in the public is somewhat confused about what value investing is all about. Over the last 14 years now I developed the bank I'm sending in by investing in the rigorous academic program in value investing at Ivy in addition to developing value investing courses and carrying out research on value investing themes we're also offering apprenticeships to our students through our idea value fund and organize events such as this one. It's not being competition. Of course 2019 finals are here today an academic symposium that I ran over in May in Toronto and a value investing seminar geared to professionals that I ran every July. Also here in Toronto with this program we're making history are you are the first university in Canada to have developed a fully fledged academic program in value investing in the second day world of the Columbia.

What Ben Graham the father of value investing taught at the same time we're breaking new academic ground because we've taken a trade subject like in value investing and we've elevated it into a rigorous academic program. In other words you we brought value investing and stock back into academia. And this is big because academics have paid little attention to stock picking over the years. But I am a firm believer in stock picking. I think stock picking was the right process and the right temperament works. Now in the past in past conferences I spoke extensively about the technical and more quantitative aspect of the value investing process that is screening stocks to find possibly undervalued stocks. Stocks with sloppy low price to book and then finding that intrinsic value. Value them to to find intrinsic value. Now these two steps of the process have been well documented in my speeches.

Today I like discuss the softer more qualitative aspect of the value investing process. The part that has to do with temperament and value investor character because these are very important aspects of decision making. If when investing success that is somewhat anecdotal evidence of the importance of temperament investing for example GM Moss investing strategies. James Montier says that value investors are contrarian, patient, discipline unconstrained constrained and skeptical. And famed value investor Warren Buffett says that his successor yes we have the right temperament and a keen understanding of both human and institutional biases. But don't all successful investors share the same traits and how then how do value investors differ from mothers who follow different investing style. I want to develop a less anecdotal and more formal and systematic understanding of the threat of the current strengths and virtues that embody value investors. A few years ago I interviewed 19 successful value investors here in Canada in the U.S. and found overwhelming support for the importance of character in value investing. One of the questions I asked was how different are value investors on mothers. interviewees felt that volume investors are low key. Not necessarily anti-social but a social they are contrarian. Patient disciplined and willing to do things out of the ordinary humility integrity and independence are also very important but also in their he's felt.

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