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Monday, 7 June 2010

On the returning migrant accountant

I read with interest how one high flyer had obtained her Masters in Accounting, her double major in accounting and economics, and headed off to the UK in 1985 to build her career for two decades. She has since chosen to return to the land of her roots, New Zealand, so that her two children, aged 10 and 11, can grow up near to their grandparents. Michelle Smith said, a career in the financial industry is an adrenaline rush and that is the great thing about it. Nevertheless, she did admit that twelve-hour days are gruelling and that people will come to an age when they would prefer not to do it.

(Ref: Stuff NZ, 7th June 2010. Money world is simply an adrenaline rush.)

A career in finance seems like a wonderful option. What better way to understand the world? Than through dollars and cents? I read with interest how in 1993, Li Lu, a young Chinese national, who recently escaped the horrors of the Tianenmen Square in 1989, had been present at a speech of Warren Buffett, and became enamored with Mr Buffett's ideas. Li Lu himself was nearly broke but that two hour speech from Mr Buffett proved to be the turning point. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Lu told the students he was “accidentally” brought to the class session with Buffett that evening in 1993 and wasn’t even enrolled in Columbia’s business school at the time.

“I was pretty desperate, you know, recently escaped from China,” said Lu, who had been a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. “I didn’t know anybody. I had very little connection whatsoever. I didn’t have any money. In fact, I was deep in debt.

“And I was horribly worried about, ‘How do I ever make a living in this country?’ And I really didn’t grow up with the capitalist culture, either.”

As the class got under way, he said, “the speaker has a funny name that reminds me of some kind of buffet lunches. Anyway, in the middle of the speech, listening to Warren, a light bulb kind of just went off. And I figured that I could do something in this business.”

Hearing Buffett in the class, he said, “really changed me fundamentally.”
(Source: Omaha World-Herald, 6th June 2010. Warren Watch: Listener Learned Well.)

Li Lu's life story is inspiring because through it, we learn that it is possible to make a new career path for yourself and actually be good at it. Of course, one needs conviction in order to succeed in the new chosen career path. It will take a lot of hard work and perseverance. But at the end of the day, if you want it bad enough, you'll make the sacrifices in order to succeed.

I also found the following to be a very useful portion of the article:

Comparing the video and a World-Herald account of the 1993 class, Lu and Buffett seem to be reading from the same page.

Buffett: “Over time I evolved more into trying to find the wonderful business. And if you find one, the best thing to do probably is not to sell it. It will go on and on usually, even if it looks a little overpriced.”

Lu: “That’s the good thing about really buying a good business. The business takes care of itself. You’re riding up and down with the strength of the business.”

A good business will take care of itself -- hmm, I wonder how to find such a business! Investing in such a business is probably the dream of many investors. Yet how do investors make money? That is a question that needs to be answered slowly. Granted, there are many takeover operations, etc. but how are they different from people buying stock on the stock market? This is a question which needs serious consideration before it can be answered.