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Shoe Dog

Think like a Portfolio Manager – read these books

Andrew-SmithPortfolio Manager, Andrew Smith, shares his summer holiday reading list. Be inspired and keep you finger on the pulse. 

I plan to use the quieter markets over January to finish books that I have typically started reading and have put aside to focus on the latest company report or capital raising. At the moment, I have five books that I’m hoping to finish before the newsflow heats up again soon with the February reporting season.

First book on my shelf is Walter Isaacson’s ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’. I have read Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs and am enjoying his take on Da Vinci so far. I have always been fascinated by the imagination of Da Vinci but wanted to dig further into his life after seeing some of his works (many of which were unfinished) whilst holidaying with my family in Italy.

The next book is “The Snowball – Warren Buffett and the business of life” by Alice Schroeder. I have read numerous books on the investment approach of Buffett but once I started this book I realised I know relatively little about the man himself. I have booked a trip to the Berkshire Hathaway AGM in Omaha next May so reading this biography will be quite timely.

I have also started to do more reading about the rise of Artificial Intelligence as I believe this will have a significant impact on business and society in the coming decades. I was surprised by how much the topic dominated a conference I went to in China earlier in 2018 – especially how advanced the Chinese are in this area. This was followed up by a technology conference I attended in San Francisco recently where Artificial Intelligence seemed to be the new arms race between China and America. While there I heard a presentation by Kai-Fu Lee and thought his book “AI superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order” would provide some good insights given his intimate knowledge of the sector as both a successful investor in China, an academic in America as well as a past employee of Microsoft and Google.

The most page turning book I have at the moment is “Shoe Dog” the autobiography of Phil Knight the founder of Nike. I am really enjoying reading of his adventures and am blown away by the confidence of someone to fly to Japan straight out of college to approach a Japanese sneaker company about representing them in the US – with zero experience of doing that. Again it shows what imagination and hard work can do.

On the lighter side my wife laughed when I picked up the Richie McCaw autobiography recently given this is my third attempt to finish it but I always find it hard to read after Australia loses to the All Blacks (which has been a frequent accordance of late). Richie’s work ethic and discipline is certainly inspiring me to finish this before the Super Rugby season kicks off again in February.

Andrew Smith is the Portfolio Manager of the Perennial Value Microcap Opportunities Trust and the Smaller Companies Trust. His views are his own and are not considered financial advice. 

Andrew Smith
aws@perennial.net.au