September 24, 2020

Warren Buffett Has No Use for Auditors

In one instance at least! 

Here's a little anecdote courtesy of the ubiquitous Business Insider:

[I]n 1984, Berkshire highlighted its purchase of Nebraska Furniture Mart [in its annual letter to investors]. Buffett was a huge fan of NFM's chairman, the 91-year-old Rose Blumkin, who he affectionately referred to as "Mrs. B."

Here's an excerpt:

I have been asked by a number of people just what secrets the Blumkins bring to their business. These are not very esoteric. All members of the family: (1) apply themselves with an enthusiasm and energy that would make Ben Franklin and Horatio Alger look like dropouts; (2) define with extraordinary realism their area of special competence and act decisively on all matters within it; (3) ignore even the most enticing propositions failing outside of that area of special competence; and, (4) unfailingly behave in a high-grade manner with everyone they deal with. (Mrs. B boils it down to “sell cheap and tell the truth”.)

Our evaluation of the integrity of Mrs. B and her family was demonstrated when we purchased 90% of the business: NFM had never had an audit and we did not request one; we did not take an inventory nor verify the receivables; we did not check property titles. We gave Mrs. B a check for $55 million and she gave us her word. That made for an even exchange.

But luckily not every business is as trustworthy as a regional furniture store with a sweet, nonagenarian chairman and therefore, opiners will remain gainfully employed. 
 
[BI]

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