Warren Buffett’s legacy will extend well beyond wealth
His investment principles have enriched others but what’s most remarkable is how lightly he wears his success
Warren Buffett’s annual letters to shareholders are widely anticipated. A mix of self-deprecating humour and investment rules he lives by, they also offer an unusually candid look at his company Berkshire Hathaway’s successes and missteps during the year. His latest letter earlier this year began in a much more reflective mood, however. Buffett was contemplating legacy. He said he and his long-time business partner Charlie Munger were often filled with pleasure that Berkshire’s shareholders disproportionately passed on their shares to charities. “We believe Berkshire’s individual holders largely to be of the once-a-saver, always-a saver variety. Though these people live well, they eventually dispense most of their funds to philanthropic organizations. These redistribute the funds by expenditures intended to improve the lives of a great many people who are unrelated to the original benefactor," Buffett wrote. “The disposition of money unmasks humans." Famously, Buffett has bequeathed much of his wealth to charitable foundations, principally the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “I don’t think I’m as well cut out to be a philanthropist as Bill and Melinda are," Buffett said to Fortune magazine in 2006. “What can be more logical, in whatever you want done, than finding someone better equipped than you are to do it?" It is hard to think of another businessman who would not want his name on a university, museum or charity funded by his wealth, or who can make for a better parable of humility amid such riches.