What you can learn from the world's best investors

Hand holding a rising arrow
Hand holding a rising arrow

Famous investors may make investments worth billions but that doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two about how to invest your own savings.

From US presidents to modern day investing marvels, each of them have some wise advice for investing but the overarching theme is to keep it simple.

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." – Benjamin Franklin

This founding father of America knew that when it comes to investing, education pays. Before jumping headlong into an investment on a tip off or just because everyone else is doing it, research it and decide whether it's for you or not.

"I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful." - Warren Buffett

Once you have done your research, knowing when to buy into the market is key. The Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, is the most successful investor of the 20th century so he knows what he's talking about. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, buying when the stock markets are falling and selling out at the top, is the way to make the most money – unfortunately many people do the reverse because they cannot hold their nerve when markets get shaky.

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"In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable." - Robert Arnott

American entrepreneur and investor Robert Arnott understands that investing when stock markets are down is uncomfortable but he is right that doing something that is uncomfortable probably means you're making money. However, individuals should know their tolerance for risky investments, if you push yourself too far it is possible you will pull out your money through fear at the wrong time.

"Only buy something that you would be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years." – Warren Buffett

Stock markets will peak and trough but investors know they have to weather the storms and sit tight. When embarking on investing you have to be prepared to lock your money up for 10 years or more in order to realise gains.

"Just as a cautious businessman avoids investing all his capital in one concern, so wisdom would probably admonish us also not to anticipate all our happiness from one quarter." – Sigmund Freud

Although the father of psychoanalysis was not making a specific point about investing, investors should take heed. It is no good looking at returns on your investment in short timeframes if you are a long-term investor. There will be times when you money goes down and times when you're money goes up; the key is to have confidence in your investments and not judge them day-by-day.

"The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator." – Ben Graham

Maybe the father of value investing Ben Graham had heard too many tales of 'sure thing' investments in the pub and was fed up. Whatever, the reason he is right about the need for consistent investing, rather than throwing money at sparkly new investments.

The crux of Graham's argument was not to let the stock market determine what you buy and sell shares at because the price will always change, instead investors should profit from market mistakes and not participate in them.

And if you need further convincing, Buffett described Graham's book The Intelligent Investor as "the best book about investment ever written".

"If investing is entertaining, if you're having fun, you're probably not making any money. Good investing is boring." – George Soros

If you want investing to be exciting then you're probably better off taking your money to Las Vegas and sticking it on black. For most investors, the highs and lows can be nerve-wracking not exciting which is why Soros, who ranks in the top 30 richest people in the world, prefers sensible stocks that are likely to grow.

The fact is, investing isn't about emotions, it's about research, analysis and having convictions that your choices are worth sticking by.

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Warren Buffett's Top Picks
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