Monday, August 19th, 2019

London Merchant Adventurers

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Carter LeCraw

Carter LeCraw

Who would history say were the best investors of all time? Many familiar names come to mind like Warren Buffet who made billions for the owners of Berkshire Hathaway stock, Peter Lynch, the enormously successful manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, or how about Bill Gross who has been called the "king of bonds". John Templeton championed the concept of buying undervalued stocks and Benjamin Graham was Templeton's mentor and guide. Then there are more controversial investors like the "corporate raider" Carl Icahn or George Soros who, by shorting the British pound in 1992, made over one billion in a single day and was deemed, the man who "broke the bank of England".

There was also a investor group called the London Merchant Adventurers. Wait a minute. London Merchant Adventurers ... who were they? How can such an obscure group be even mentioned alongside the iconic Warren Buffet or the sage, John Templeton?

A preliminary examination might conclude that they should, indeed, NOT be included alongside these other, more well-known, investors. The London Merchant Adventurers was a group of 70 people, mostly merchants, in London who made only ONE notable investment. There seems to be NO definitive records of the financial results of this investment although it appears they, after a considerable wait, finally got their money back - but apparently no large windfall profit. It appears they had a problem focusing on their financial objective because they allowed other, more altruistic, motives (in addition to financial rewards) influence their decision to invest. Also, the risk they were taking in relation to the potential return was extremely high. Shouldn't Thomas Weston, their investment advisor, have counseled them better on the "basic" fundamentals of investing?

Well, on second thought, maybe history will be somewhat forgiving toward Thomas Weston and the London Merchant Adventurers, since it was their financial capital that backed a small, ill-equipped, starry-eyed, band of wanderers known to history as ... the Pilgrims. The results of their investment ... a country called the United States of America.

Investments DO matter.

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