Investing can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. With so much information available online and countless self-proclaimed “experts,” it is difficult to know who to trust and follow.
However, there are a few seasoned investors who have managed to master the art of investing.
They have amassed great fortunes throughout their careers and successfully outperformed the market for decades, leading to investment returns far beyond what anyone else could accomplish.
The 1% are there for a reason, and we’re here to help introduce you to them. This article has compiled a list of the 15 best investors to follow. From legendary figures like Warren Buffett to modern-day gurus like Li Lu, every investor on this list is a proven expert and one worth keeping an eye on.
If you want to improve your chances of success as an investor, what better way than to learn from the best?
What Makes a Successful Investor?
Before diving into our list, let’s discuss what makes an investor successful so that we can better understand why these titans are so good at what they do.
Investing is one of the few games where your success is somewhat open for all to see.
While there may be many different approaches and reasons for investing, ultimately, your success is determined by your ability to generate meaningful returns without losing
This point is even more important if you are a professional because you have shareholders’
So, with that being said, how can you know whether an investor is successful or not?
All-Time Investment Returns vs. The Stock Market
Well, the first and most obvious way to determine how successful an investor is, is to examine their investment returns over the entirety of their career.
If they consistently outperform the stock market over many years or even decades, that is an excellent starting point.
Since most investors, in their lifetime, will earn more
Instead, it is those investors who generate superior returns that make the most out of their
This is even more impressive when you learn that nearly 90% of “investment pros” fail to beat the market.
The Stocks They Pick and the Price They Pay
You can learn a lot about a person based on the businesses they invest in.
If someone focuses on buying speculative stocks or trending picks rather than acquiring excellent businesses, it is unlikely that they will succeed in investing.
Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have a few risky bets, but ultimately your best bet is to buy assets that are almost guaranteed to prosper.
This is taken a step further when an investor can determine what a business is worth (aka intrinsic value) and whether it is overvalued based on the company’s stock price.
That is because it only makes logical sense to invest in a stock when it is underpriced since doing the opposite would imply that the asset will eventually return to its actual value.
Howard Marks puts this best when he said, “Investment success doesn’t come from ‘buying good things, but rather from ‘buying things well.”
The last and perhaps most important factor to consider when measuring an investor’s success is their emotional intelligence.
Believe it or not, investing is one of the most emotionally tumultuous adventures one can pursue.
Those who can act rationally in even the most euphoric and depressing periods are the investors most likely to succeed.
You’ll notice that when you learn more about the investors below, many of them are contrarian by nature, acting in counter-logical ways to the rest of society.
Simply put, when everyone else in the market is bullish, and buying, many of them are patiently waiting or selling.
Alternatively, when everyone else in the market is bearish and selling, these investors buy in boatloads and increase their positions.
By acting in this manner and controlling their emotions, they have been able to protect themselves from the irrational behavior that plagues most investors.
Warren Buffett summarized this well when he said, “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful.”
Top 15 Investors to Follow
Now that we’ve discussed what makes an investor legendary compared to the rest, it’s time to dive into the 15 best investors to follow.
Though the investors mentioned are organized in a particular way, each of them is excellent in their own right and has helped me tremendously in my investment journey.
1. Warren Buffett
“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
A man that needs no introduction, Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors and businessmen of our time.
Known for his long-term approach to investing and ability to identify undervalued companies, Buffett has accumulated an immense fortune worth $113 billion.
Through his company Berkshire Hathaway, he has acquired a diverse portfolio of companies in various industries, including insurance, retail, and energy.
Since taking over management of Berkshire, Buffett has compounded capital at 19.8% versus 9.9% for the S&P 500.
2. Charlie Munger
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day, if you live long enough like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.”
Charlie Munger is a prominent businessman and investor, best known as the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett’s right-hand man.
Munger’s approach to investing is often considered pragmatic, never hesitating to say no to an investment opportunity he doesn’t understand, even if it means missing out on a promising prospect.
In doing so, Munger has been instrumental to the success of Berkshire Hathaway, helping Buffett avoid costly investment mistakes and acting as a voice of reason for the Oracle of Omaha.
If there is anything you should take away when learning about Munger, it pays exponentially to have an investment partner that challenges your beliefs.
By having your own voice of reason, you may also avoid costly mistakes and improve your likelihood of success in this wonderful game.
3. Li Lu
Image Credit: Himalaya Capital
“The game of investing is a process of discovering who you are, what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, what you love to do, then magnifying that until you gain a sizable edge over all the other people.”
Li Lu is a fascinating investor, best known for his work as the founder and Chairman of Himalaya Capital Management.
Born in China, Lu has had a fascinating career, which includes studying at Columbia University in the United States and working as a student activist during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
He is considered an expert in the Chinese market and has made several successful investments in the country over the years.
Lu has been so successful that he even has the personal backing of Charlie Munger, who has capital invested in his fund.
Since its founding in 1998, Li Lu’s Himalaya Capital has achieved a compound annual return of about 30%.
4. Peter Lynch
“Go for a business that any idiot can run – because sooner or later any idiot probably is going to be running it.”
Next up on our list is the legendary investor and former mutual fund manager Peter Lynch.
Lynch is known for his common-sense investing approach and ability to identify promising companies early on.
This is best explained in his infamous investing books, “One Up On Wall Street” and “Beating the Street,” which are considered essential reading for investors of all levels.
During his time managing the
5. Ray Dalio
Image Credit: Principles
“He who lives by the crystal ball will eat shattered glass.”
One of the most popular investors today, Ray Dalio is a master of the financial markets and the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest and most successful hedge funds, managing over $124 billion in assets.
Dalio is known for his unique investing philosophy, which is based on “radical transparency” and “thoughtful disagreement.”
He believes that the best investment decisions are made through open and honest dialogue and that it is important to consider a wide range of perspectives and opinions.
Using this philosophy, Dalio has successfully built macro-focused investment portfolios, like the Pure Alpha Fund, which has averaged an annual rate of return of 11.4%.
In addition to investing, Dalio has written multiple valuable investing books, including “Principles”, “Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order”, and “Principles for Navigating Bid Debt Crisis”, as well as others.
6. Howard Marks
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
Another favorite, Howard Marks, is the founder and co-Chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, one of the world’s most respected investment firms.
Marks is known for his contrarian investment approach, which involves identifying undervalued assets and taking a long-term view of the market.
His success has largely been attributed to purchasing distressed bonds and bond funds, which is quite uncommon compared to the majority of the investors on this list.
In the past ten years, Oaktree has generated total returns of 265.09%, beating the S&P 500’s 141.54% in the same period.
One of the best ways to learn from Howard Marks is through his memos, where he provides thoughtful and insightful investment commentary on a variety of investment topics and events.
7. Mohnish Pabrai
Image Credit: Investors Archive
“The single biggest advantage a value investor has is not IQ. It’s patience and waiting. Waiting for the right pitch, and waiting for many years for the right pitch.”
A disciple of Warren Buffett, and a close friend of Charlie Munger, Mohnish Pabrai is known for his deep knowledge of value investing and ability to identify undervalued companies.
Beyond being an investor, Mohnish is also a highly regarded philanthropist, founding the Dakshana Foundation to help underprivileged children in India reach their educational potential.
On top of this, Mr. Pabrai also wrote a book called, “The Dhandho Investor: The Low-Risk Value Method to High Returns,” which outlines his investment philosophy and is considered essential reading for any serious investor.
As someone closely associated with Buffett and Munger, finding another investor as knowledgeable and generous as him is hard.
8. Joel Greenblatt
Image Credit: World Top Investors
“The secret to successful investing is relatively simple: Figure out the value of something and then pay a lot less.”
Possibly the most impressive stretch for any investor on our list, Joel Greenblatt’s hedge fund, Gotham Capital, produced a staggering 50% annual return for its investors back in the late 80s and early 90s.
What enabled Joel and Gotham to accomplish such a feat was the use of his unique investment strategy called the “Magic Formula.”
The Magic Formula was based on investing in high-quality companies trading at a discount to their intrinsic value.
By focusing on companies with strong fundamentals and undervalued stock prices, Greenblatt has consistently generated impressive returns over multiple decades.
To learn more about Mr. Greenblatt’s “Magic Formula”, check out his two best-selling books, “The Little Book That Beats the Market” and “You Can Be a Stock Market Genius.”
9. Nick Sleep & Qais Zakaria
“The trick, it seems to us, if one is to be a successful long-term investor, is to recognize the sources of enduring business success, get in early, and own enough to make a difference.”
Somewhat of a sleeper (pun intended), Nick Sleep and Qais Zakaria are investors that tend to elude most people’s radar.
Yet, they are some of the best investors of all time.
While managing their fund Nomad Investment, the pair achieved a whopping annual return of 20.8% over 13 years.
Known for their disciplined approach to investing, involving extensive research and analysis of a company before making any investment decisions, Sleep and Zakaria set themselves apart by focusing on high-quality companies that have a sustainable competitive advantage.
Some of their best picks include early investments in names like Amazon and Costco, which they still hold to this day.
10. Seth Klarman
Image Credit: Value Walk
“In investing it is never wrong to change your mind. It is only wrong to change your mind and do nothing about it.”
The author of the infamous, “Margin of Safety”, Seth Klarman is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors of all time, amassing a multibillion-dollar fortune from investing.
A student of Benjamin Graham (author of “The Intelligent Investor”) and Warren Buffett, Klarman’s investment strategy is based on the principles of value investing, meaning that he looks for companies that are trading at a discount to their intrinsic value and is willing to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to arise.
Since beginning his fund in 1982, Klarman and Baupost have achieved an annual return of 20% over 30 years.
An initial investment of $10,000 into Klarman’s fund, would now be worth roughly $2,374,000 today.
11. Guy Spier
“Nothing, nothing at all, matters as much as bringing the right people into your life. They will teach you everything you need to know.”
Next up on our list, Guy Spier is the founder and managing partner of Aquamarine Capital, a value-oriented investment partnership based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Guy is well known for being close friends with Mohnish Pabrai and paying $650,000, with Mohnish, to sit down and eat lunch with Warren Buffett.
Spier began his career in finance as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City.
He later transitioned to the world of investing, became a disciple of Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy, and has been running his fund ever since.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Guy also wrote an excellent investment book titled, “The Education of a Value Investor,” which chronicles his journey from Wall Street lawyer to value investor and offers insights into his investment philosophy and approach.
12. Bill Miller
Image Credit: Scott Mlyn | CNBC
“Everyone tends to see the same things, read the same newspapers, and get the same data feeds. The only way to arrive at a different answer from everybody else is to organize the data in different ways, or bring to the analytic process things that are not typically present.”
Perhaps the most contrarian of them all, Bill Miller is anything but your typical investor.
Running one of the most successful mutual funds of all-time, Bill holds the record for market beating returns, ousting the S&P 500 15 years in a row, while also posting an annual return of 20.4% since 2009.
Like many of the investors on our list, his investment strategy is based on the principles of value investing, whereby he seeks out undervalued companies with strong fundamentals and long-term growth prospects.
This contrarian nature has allowed him to always stay ahead of the pack, even after his fund was crushed during the great financial crisis, falling 52%.
If there is any takeaway from this, it is that even when your portfolio is down badly, there is always an opportunity to make it back if you don’t quit.
As they say, “Keep Calm, and Carry On.”
13. Gautam Baid
“What many people see as a three-hundred-page book is often the accumulation of thousands of hours and decades of work. Where else can you get the entire life’s work of someone in the space of a few hours?”
A personal favorite, Gautam Baid is a highly accomplished value investor with a deep understanding of the Indian stock market.
Through his book, “The Joys of Compounding”, Gautam outlines the keys to successful investing and life.
With an emphasis on behavioral finance, Mr. Baid explores the psychological factors that influence investor behavior.
Combined with an investment strategy that’s grounded by thorough research and analysis, Gautam avoids common behavioral biases that typically hinder investment success.
He is currently the founder and fund manager at Stellar Wealth Partners India Fund.
14. Michael Burry
Image Credit: ETF Stream
“What you want to watch are the lenders, not the borrowers. The borrowers will always be willing to take a great deal for themselves. It’s up to the lenders to show restraint, and when they lose it, watch out.”
Best known for short-selling subprime mortgages during the financial crisis, Michael Burry is the founder of Scion Capital, a hugely successful hedge fund that he managed from 2000 to 2008.
Burry’s contrarian nature and ability to analyze overlooked investment opportunities have allowed him to capitalize on concentrated bets that other investors wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
For example, when Burry bet against the US housing market leading up to the 07-08 crash, many of his investors pulled their capital and criticized him heavily for the decision.
However, rather than caving in, Burry held on to the bet for multiple years, eventually netting his loyal shareholders over $700 million and $100 million for himself.
This ability to think independently and stay patient throughout the madness is a testament to his character and is one of the many reasons why he is an excellent investor.
You can learn more about Burry in Michael Lewis’ “Big Short” or through the film that followed, where he is played by Christian Bale.
15. Phil Town
“If a business isn’t highly predictable, it’s quite hard to know what it’s worth.”
Last, but certainly not least, Phil Town is an American investor, motivational speaker, and author who is known for his simple and effective approach to value investing.
Town’s investment philosophy emphasizes the importance of patience, discipline, and a long-term perspective, believing that successful investing requires a deep understanding of the companies one invests in.
On top of being an investor, Phil is also the founder of Rule #1 Investing, a company that provides educational resources and tools for individual investors, helping them achieve investment success of their own.
I personally was introduced to Phil Town through his book “Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week!”, which has been monumental in changing my investment philosophy.
If you are someone searching for a way to build a strong investment foundation, look no further than Phil Town and his many valuable resources.
Final Thoughts: Why Should You Follow Successful Investors?
If you hope to kick off a successful investing career, there is no better way to get started than to seek investment advice from the world’s greatest investors.
With years of experience, these renowned investors have faced the trials and tribulations of today ten times over.
This means that you are at a significant advantage since you won’t need to make the same mistakes as they did.
Instead, study how and why they messed up and try to pinpoint what they could have done better.
Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds given that many of them have written books, annual reports, and essays on their experiences, making it extremely easy to understand their reasoning directly from the source.
If you aren’t a big reader, many of them have openly shared their journey on podcasts and YouTube videos as well.
So, rather than trying to figure it out all on your own, why not take advantage of the best resource you can find?
There has never been a better time to find investment success of your own, than the present.
Want to find investment success in 2023? Check out our in-depth video covering the current state of the economy.