Warren Buffett is one of the most idolised, investors in the world.

At the time of writing , his company, Berkshire Hathaway, has a market cap of $495 billion and Buffett himself has a net worth of $79 billion.

His approach to value investing, combined with his influence over the companies he invests in , has seen him generate an average annualised return of 20.8% per year. Just over double the 9.7% annualised returns the S&P 500 delivered over the same period of time, since 1965.

He’s known as the Oracle of Omaha. A wise investor whose name is synonymous with wealth and investing, a modern icon of success in the financial markets.

…This is his story.

Early Years

Warren Buffett was born on the 30th August 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska.

His father Howard was a stockbroker, with his own brokerage firm and his mother Leila was a housewife. Buffett had two sisters.

Young Warren

As a young child, Warren Buffet would spend most of his time at his father’s brokerage firm, writing numbers on the chalkboard and reading books. He was close to his father and describes his father as affectionate and inspirational man. He credits a lot of his success to him and says he was the one who introduced him to investing and his love of books.

As a young boy, he was always a lover of numbers.Even from a very early age he had an appreciation for business. This was became clear after reading a book called “One Thousand Ways to Make $1000”. Apparently, as a child, Buffett told a friend that if he wasn’t a millionaire by 30 he would jump off the tallest building in Omaha.

Some of Buffett’s first ventures were to sell chewing gum and bottles of cola door-to-door. He had many other ventures, such as finding and selling used golf balls and selling popcorn at football games at the University of Omaha.

When Buffett was 11, his father took him on a trip to New York. The main things Buffett wanted to see were the New York Stock Exchange. When he saw the NYSE for the first time, he saw a young boy rolling cigars for the traders to keep them happy, this is when he realised that stock investing was where the real money was.

At only 11 years old, Buffett made his first real investment, using the money he had earned so far (around $120) to buy his first stocks.

He decided to buy shares for himself , in an oil and gas company called Cities Service. He bought 3 shares priced at $38.25 per share. After investing in these, the price quickly dropped to around $27 per share, but an anxious young Buffett held on and waited until the price increased to $40, at which point he sold his stocks and took a small profit.

After taking the profit, the price increased a lot more, up to $202 and Buffett realised he could have made a lot more if he had waited. He says he learnt a lot from this early investment, like the need to be patient and not to rush into a decision without reason.

Buffett bought his first property at the young age of 15 using the money he had earned from his paper round and other ventures. He used around $1200 to purchase a 40-acre farm in Nebraska. Buffett hired a tenant farmer who worked the land for him and they shared the profits.

Buffett graduated from high school in 1947 at the age of 17, with the caption under his yearbook picture reading: “Likes math; a future stockbroker”.

His father persuaded him to enrol at the University of Nebraska where he graduated at 19, earning his degree in Business Administration.

It is believed that Buffett was so frugal at an early age that he chose to live in the YMCA whilst at University, so he could spend as little as possible and save his money instead.

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After Graduation

After graduation, Buffett wanted to go to Harvard Business School, as he thought this would be more mentally stimulating and give him a chance to learn more. Sadly he got rejected...

Instead, he decided to go to the Columbia Business School to study for his Masters. Buffett chose Columbia after reading the book “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, which Buffett says is the best book about investing ever written.

THE INTELLIGENT INVESTOR - ndiio.com

When he heard that Graham taught at Columbia, he had to go there. Graham became a massive influence on Buffett, who says he was one of the most influential people to him after his father.

Buffett learnt about the fundamentals of investing whilst in Graham’s classes and was the only student to ever get an A+. He was able to find assets that were valued at a lower cost than they could be worth, by thinking like a business owner. He then manages the investments efficiently over the long term.

After graduating, Buffett was keen to go straight to working on Wall Street, but both his father and Benjamin Graham pleaded with him not to. Buffett even offered to work for Graham for free but Graham refused, so he returned to Omaha and started working at his father’s brokerage firm.

As a very introverted, shy and nervous person, Buffett decided to take a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. He credits this as being one of his most important investments.

It was around this time that Buffett met his first wife Susie. They were married in 1952 and lived in a small run-down apartment. They had their first child, Susie, and to save money they turned a drawer into a bed for her.

Warren and Susan Buffett-wedding 1952 | Celebrity wedding photos ...

He began teaching night classes in investing at the University of Ohama, where most of his students were twice his age.

Finally, Buffett was contacted by Benjamin Graham who offered him a job at his partnership and in 1954, he moved back to New York to work there.

He spent most of his time at the partnership searching for opportunities and analysing reports. He became more interested in how companies worked and thought about the company’s management as part of his investment decision process. Graham was more interested in the balance sheets as his main investment decision process.

Already in these early years of his career, there were aspects of finance that he was obsessed with — the most important being that of compound interest. It’s thanks to this that he was able to build huge levels of wealth over the years.

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Starting his own partnership

In 1956, Buffett decided to leave the partnership and move back to Omaha. It was here that he started his own partnership called Buffett Associates Ltd. Seven family members and friends invested $105,000 in total, with Buffett only investing $100 himself. By the end of the year, he was managing around $300,000.

Buffett had two more children and, with a growing family, he decided to buy a house for $31,500.

In 1960, Buffett spoke to one of the partners who was a doctor and asked him if he could get another 10 doctors to invest $10,000 each, he succeeded in this and got 11 doctors to invest.

By 1962, the partnership was now worth $7.2 million, and Buffett decided to merge all the partnerships together into one; forming Buffett Partnership Ltd. The minimum investment amount was $100,000.

It was also in this same year that Warren Buffett met Charlie Munger and they hit it off straight away, starting the famous friendship that was to last for years to come.

Billionaire Charlie Munger praises this 1 skill of Warren Buffett's

Berkshire Hathaway

Buffett started buying stocks in Berkshire Hathaway in 1962 when it was mainly run as a textiles company and was owned by Seabury Stanton.

He decided continue to buy more shares in the company. He eventually took over Berkshire.

Buffett tried to stick with the textiles part of the business at first but realised there was not so much profit in it and started to phase it out. He started investing in insurance companies instead, and in 1967 bought the National Indemnity Company and National Fire & Marine Insurance Company.

In 1970, Buffett named himself as Chairman of the Board at Berkshire Hathaway and wrote his first letter to the shareholders. These letters from Buffett would later become very famous and something studied by many investors around the world.

Investing in a Moat

In 1971, he made the biggest investment of his career until then. Through Berkshire Hathaway, he bought a company called ‘See’s Candy’ for $25 million in cash.

“The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power, if you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business.” - Warren buffet.

Berkshire Hathaway’s value rose over the years, and between 1965 and 1975 it went from $20 per share to $95 per share.

Gaining the Float

This acquisition and involvement of the insurance business in Berkshire Hathaway have also become a trademark part of Buffett’s success.

When insurance companies collect people’s premiums, they don’t get paid immediately in other insurance claims. This cash stays with the company and is known as its ‘float’.

Berkshire Hathaway, thanks to its insurance businesses, has a float that was $39 million in 1970 and has risen to over $100 billion.

In the late 70s, Berkshire’s stock prices went up to over $290 per share and Buffett was worth around $140 million. Buffett’s net worth was tied up in Berkshire and therefore the only money he had to spend was his salary of $50,000.

His solution was to start investing his personal money in stocks as well. He made himself $3 million dollars in investments.

Apparently, around this time a friend spoke to him about investing in property, but Buffett refused, saying “Why should I buy real estate when the stock market is so easy?”.

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Buffett in the 80s

Investments Buffett made throughout the 80s really typify his approach.

Buffett set his sights on Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1983, so he walked in to speak to the owner and offered to buy it. The owner agreed at a price of $60 million, which Buffett agreed to and shook hands. A contract and cheque were sent along just days later.

In 1984, Berkshire bought into Scott and Fetzer. The company had been going through a hostile takeover and were panicking. Berkshire offered $60 per share and Scott and Fetzer agreed.

In 1988, Berkshire began to buy shares in Coca-Cola. The owner, who was an old neighbour of Buffett, noticed the shares being bought and began to panic and started investigating. Upon investigation, he recognised that it must be Buffett and gave him a call to find out what was going on, but Buffett wouldn’t say anything until he was required to (once they hit the 5% threshold).

Berkshire managed to own a share of 7% in Coca-Cola, which was worth over $1 billion. Buffett became a billionaire in 1990.

Buffett in the 90s

In the late 90s, the lure of the new dot.com companies was simply too appealing for most investors and it soon became a bubble. Buffett, on the other hand, steered clear.

In his letter to shareholders, he claimed that technology investors had overstayed the party. He said value is destroyed, not created by any business that loses money over its lifetime.

During this time, many people thought Buffett had lost his touch, with Barron’s even writing “What’s Wrong, Warren?” as Berkshire stock had gone from a high of $81,000 to around $40,000 per share.

However, Buffett, in hindsight, was right. As the share price recovered to its previous highs once the bubble and hysteria ended. His vision to avoid the hype and stick with his long-term approach beat other investors yet again.

The Financial Crisis

During the financial crisis of 2007-2008, Buffett was once again criticised. This time it was for allocating capital too early and not getting the best deals.

Throughout 2008, he acquired large stakes in big companies such as Goldman Sachs and General Electric. It was at the times of panic that Buffett was able to use his huge hoards of cash to gain companies at a large discount from the value he saw in them.

However, the criticism may have been misplaced, as already 5 years later he was reported to have made over $10 billion profit from the deals he had made between 2008 and 2011. This is despite showing a drop in profits of 62% during 2008 itself.

In particular, Buffett’s investment in Bank of America is seen as being a genius move. A $5 billion investment in warrants were able to be exercised for a stake worth $19 billion; meaning by 2017, he had made a profit of $12 billion.

Philanthropy

In February 2011, Buffett attended a ceremony at the White House where he, along with fourteen others, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is America’s highest civilian honour. It was awarded by President Obama, who said the people being awarded were “some of the most extraordinary people in America and around the world”.

When talking about Buffett, Obama said he was “not only as one of the world’s richest men but also one of the most admired and respected” and he has “demonstrated that integrity isn’t just a good trait, it is good for business”.

Philanthropy

In February 2011, Buffett attended a ceremony at the White House where he, along with fourteen others, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is America’s highest civilian honour. It was awarded by President Obama.

When talking about Buffett, Obama said he was “not only as one of the world’s richest men but also one of the most admired and respected” and he has “demonstrated that integrity isn’t just a good trait, it is good for business”.

Since the year 2000, Buffett has donated more than $46 billion, making him the most charitable billionaire. It was always his aim to build up wealth in order to give it away to help the wider society. His lifestyle of frugality shows how money holds little value for him other than being a measure of his success in what he calls ‘the game’.

He has also pledged that 99% of his wealth will go to charitable causes, with 83% of that going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the foundation co-founded by one of his best friends, Bill Gates.

When you look at the life of Warren Buffett, it’s clear that you have a man who lived by principles and integrity. This included his investment decisions, which always followed fundamental rules that he stuck to, as well as his private life.

Rather than letting his life be dictated by his huge wealth, he lived a humble lifestyle and appreciated the close group of people around him. As he says:

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Once it’s all said and done, in the history books, his reputation will be regarded as one of the greatest investors and businessmen of all time; a humble and generous man who enjoyed and understood the game. 

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There's a phase most traders reach when they begin learning to trade and it becomes a struggle to get past this first phase. Let’s call it the Analyst Phase. It’s a great place to be however not where you want to stay!

Let me explain.

This is the stage in your development in becoming a trader where you can perform some great analysis. You can break down a chart really well, explain what's been happening in the markets, Understand fundamental analysis, what different levels are showing you on the chart and what may happen next in the markets. In other words your becoming a financial analyst. 

The problem with this phase is, that's where the process ends... as a piece of analysis work! People that are stuck in the Analyst Phase aren't using their analysis to complete their trading ideas and actually execute trades.

In other words, they're a great analyst & market commentator, but they're not a real trader yet.

If you're stuck in this phase ( Many traders get stuck here ), it's likely you're there because of one of these points or both of the points I'll be discussing. These two tips should help you to start opening your eyes to what you are doing and take the leap into the real market from analyst on the side-line to a real profitable trader.

1. Know what trade set ups to look for

Imagine a situation in your life outside of trading & the markets (yes, life outside of the markets does exist! ) where you are looking for something, you are trying to find something .

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Now, think how successful you would be at finding that thing if you actually had no idea what it was you were looking for. It would be like trying to find the pot of gold under the rainbow.

Occasionally you might find the thing just by stumbling upon it and realising that it was, in fact, what you were looking for in the first place. However, in most cases you're going to go through a process of searching and searching until you either go without finding anything or just give up on the search (finally admitting there is no pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow).

That sounds stupid & crazy, but this is what traders that are in the Analyst Phase do. They're looking for trading opportunities & analysing markets but without knowing exactly what a trading opportunity is to them. They don’t have a system! Many traders don't have a trading system and ends up setting themselves completely unachievable goals. To learn more about setting realistic goals read our previous article on goal setting for traders https://a1trading.com/setting-realistic-trading-goals/

Of course, the markets are dynamic and you're not going to get a completely identical situation for every trade set up, every trade is different, but there should be certain characteristics or criteria for what a trading opportunity a real profitable trading opportunity involves.

That should be beyond simply the confirmation points for the entry to go long or go short at a given level, but also the overall situation and movement of the market. How long would you expect to be holding a trade for ,What sort of outcome is ideal for your trading style ? Is it one move in the market, are you trading the structure of a new trend? Do you know what are your exit criteria ? When do you know when to move your stop loss to protect your capital ? Do you know where to set your stop loss?

By understanding what sort of move you are looking for in the market, you'll know what sort of signs you're looking for to show there's an opportunity for you to enter into a trade or to exit a current trade. Now your analysis becomes more meaningful and real as it will be leading to a real trade that you will execute and have specific points of interest in the markets.

If you are a VIP Member, we have many Analysts that they explain the exact reasoning for why they take a trade and why they exit. Also we have plenty of educational videos where we break down how trades are entered and exited. Explaining the process of building a trading system and analysing the market in depth .

2. Look for trades in the Right place

OK, so you now know what you're looking for in your trading system... great! So why are you looking in all the wrong places for set ups?

Imagine you're looking for the sink to wash your hands, you wouldn't search in the living room or in the attic just to be 'more comprehensive' would you? No, direct your search in a way that's efficient and is likely to lead to the result of becoming a profitable trader.

This is what we need to keep in mind with our trading. There is no point in having a clear idea of what a trade looks like for you and then doing irrelevant analysis on markets you haven’t studied enough that won't lead you to finding it. 

Remember, your time is valuable, use it wisely as the saying goes Time is money. This is especially true when markets move and you just stay watching not having a plan to profit from these moves.

Think of your analysis as a guiding process. You're going from having all the possible markets at the top of the funnel and you're going through a series of steps (your trading system) that takes you from that huge list of potential markets all the way down to finding the trading opportunity  that suits you and your system and executing it.

By taking this clear approach, you make every step in your analysis purposeful and meaningful . This will not only make you more efficient, but will also help you to reduce the confusion and so you can actually move from being an analyst of the markets to being a real trader.

It is very common for traders to do a huge amount of analysis and end up confusing themselves or just having a lot of unnecessary work there just for the sake of it and try reassure them of their analysis, rather than directing their efforts in a way that actually leads to them finding a trade set up.

Be more precise, be more purposeful in your actions and your analysis and enjoy the benefits of a more directed trading approach going from an analyst to a trader.

If you want to get start to learn more about trading styles, risk management and how to get start in the financial markets 

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3 Steps to Trading Successfully 

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  2. Start applying trading concepts learnt and focus on achieving consistency and discipled trading and learning the basics of risk management.
  3. Take your consistency and get funded through . Trade on live account with consistent profit.

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Setting goals for yourself when it comes to your performance in the financial markets might not be as straightforward and simple as you may imagine. 

It's essential to set a goal whenever you're working towards something in life, otherwise how will you ever know if you've achieved it? Goals can be motivating and are often really helpful in keeping you on the right track to achieving success.

However, it's just as important to spend time ensuring the goals are meaningful rather than purely inspirational and spur of the moment thoughts. Things that are actually going to help you reach a desired outcome and monitor your progress towards achieving it.

For example, when you set goals for your trading/investing progress, have you ever relied on statements along the lines of "I want to become more profitable" or "I want to open more great trades?".

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I have to hold my hands up to that one, I've used goals like that in the past - most traders have! Unfortunately, these sort of blanket statements just fall into the category of 'easier said than done'.

We need to get more specific. We all set these blank goals in life. We set ourselves these vague goals often. Saying I want to be a profitable trader is just like saying I want to be able to run a marathon or I want to get all A’s in university. 

To be able to truly achieve your trading and personal goals you need to get specific and consistent with your goal setting.

Setting the right goals

Each of us has different strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences that affect our trading. Some may be highly risky traders as they have not yet encountered a reality check by Mr. Market others may be risk averse. We all have different areas we need to work on in our trading approach if we want to progress and succeed in the markets to become profitable traders.

By using a blank statements about our overall trading, we're not really going to be measuring progress in the areas that really matter to us individually.

Rather than setting goals and measuring our success based on improvements only in our P&L, we should be identifying points that are holding us back and find an appropriate measure that shows progress in that specific area. 

Many traders need to focus on their risk management (which I believe is the key to a long career in the markets) setting specific goals such as no more than 2% per trade or after 3 losing trades walking away from the screens. Stopping to trade when you feel that you will over trade or start revenge trading. If this is something you struggle with get some help! Invest in your education here with A1 Trading

Other traders may need to focus on not jumping the gun! Not entering into trades too fast, not checking macro-economic data or not looking at the economic calendar to see if there is high volatility news due, as we all know trading before major news releases is very risky.

By doing that, it will help us to focus our development plan in a way that's meaningful and encourage trading in a way that's more sustainable. Things that avoid us being tempted into risky approaches in an attempt to hit profit targets, without any improvements actually being made to our ability.

What's your ratio ?

To help put this in to practical terms, there's a quote from the book 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins that has always resonated with me. It's intended to apply to business, but I think it can also be adapted to apply to trading or any other area of your life you're hoping to improve.

"If you could pick one & only one ratio - profit per _____ - to systematically increase over time, what _____ would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on your economic engine?"

That's definitely something to really focus when making realistic goals regarding your trading. The word 'sustainable' is key here - we don't want to hit a profit target for the sake of it, but instead we want to see an improvement in our approach to the financial markets in a steady & sustainable way. Improvements that lead to dependable and repeatable returns in the market, not a one-hit wonder. 

If you want to check out one of the best one hit wonders where one Forex trade generated over $300Million profit click here a1trading.com300-million-one-forex-trade

Have a think about you ratios as a trader - what would your ratio be that you want to improve? What would show that your performance as a trader / Investor is moving in the correct direction?

If you're an A1 member, let's discuss and share our specific trading goals in the discord server 

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3 Steps to Trading Successfully 

1 Join A1 Trading and focus on learning the reality of trading the financial markets.

2 Start applying trading concepts learnt and focus on achieving consistency and discipled trading and learning the basics of risk management.

3 Take your consistency and get funded through . Trade on live account with consistent profit.

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