Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

A Trek to Buffett s Omaha

Author: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

Posted on Jul 14, 2010

Category: CFS

Everyone in the finance world knows the name Warren Buffett. He is one of the world’s richest men and most competent investors, and each year he hosts a shareholders meeting for his company Berkshire Hathaway (BRK). With some of the biggest names in the industry and the massive crowds in attendance, the BRK Shareholders Meeting has been dubbed the “the Woodstock of Capitalism”. Shareholder meetings are not usually known to attract many investors, but each year over 40,000 people vie for one of the 20,000 seats available in the main area of the Qwest Centre where this year’s meeting was held at the end of April. Multibillionaire Warren Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, relaxes by playing a game of ping pong after the company's 2010 annual shareholders meeting Being a guest at this meeting is like a dream come true for many finance students, but for one UNB student the dream is a reality. Alex Summers, a 20 year old finance student, has been attending the annual shareholders meetings for the past four years and is a very enthusiastic “Berkie” or Berkshire Hathaway shareholder. Alex has had a passion for investing all of his life, and it is this passion and his experience that has allowed him to join the Student Investment Fund (SIF) while only in his second year of the BBA program. He is the youngest student to ever join SIF. Of course, Alex wasn’t the only one to make the trek to Omaha, Nebraska this year. Professor Glenn Cleland, the founder of the SIF, also attended the general meeting. This was the first time that Cleland has made the trip. Cleland’s excitement showed when one morning he lined up at 3:30 a.m. just to get in the front of the line for the Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger question period. Cleland remarked, “People brought sleeping bags to stay warm during the early morning line-up.  I have never heard of this kind of zeal for an annual general meeting.” The excitement began on the plane and lasted throughout the three day long event. Once they arrived, they were fully immersed in the BRK culture, and they had the opportunity to meet and network with other “Berkies” from all around the world. Reflecting on the annual general meeting experience, Alex says, “The meeting is an opportunity each year to remember how simple investing can be and Buffett reminds the audience that if the stock isn’t a screaming ‘buy’, don’t bother.” The experience is a good way for students to transition from the SIF program into careers in the investment profession. After attending the general meeting and having learned the ropes, Cleland is looking forward to taking some of his students to next year’s meeting. Now that the door has been opened, there is a world of possibilities and the dream of attending the “Woodstock of Capitalism” can come true for many more students.