Buffett’s Successor Will Be A Lot Like Him

9 Mar

In his most recent shareholder letter, posted one week ago, Warren Buffett shed more light on Berkshire Hathaway‘s (BRK.A, BRK.B) CEO succession plan. It sounds like they’re in pretty good shape for the CEO role, but that they’re going to have more difficulty finding a chief investment officer who can take over. Buffett has long said the board will split his current position into two (CEO, CIO) upon his death.

So who will it be? My guess is that it will be someone very much like Buffett himself: A self-effacing, modest person who avoids the limelight, doesn’t go on the speaking circuit, and doesn’t attend black-tie events. It’s likely to be someone happy to be paid well, but not extravagantly, for doing what he or she loves (it’s fair to say the person could be the highest paid in Omaha, however).

It’ll be a family-oriented person who would not enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle of an East Coast hedge fund manager. This person will be more likely to be out coaching his or her kids’ sports teams rather than hobnobbing with other executives. It is this independence that likely has helped and will continue to help this person make superb investment judgments, I’m betting. Because of the trust Buffett will be placing in this person, his or her views and opinions will be deeply respected and closely watched.

The investment officer selection process at Berkshire is going to be fun to watch over the next several years.

Full disclosure: I own shares for clients as well as personally.

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