Boys like to make lists, best songs ever, greatest football teams, top 10 films etc etc.

I have many such lists, one being my top five heroes of all time:

These are (in no particular order):

Nelson Mandela

Albus Dumbledore

Mahatma Ghandi

President Josiah Bartlett

And, Warren Buffett

Given that two of these are political / humanitarian icons and two are fictional Mr Buffett appears very much the odd one out!

When I gave my list in conversation with friends recently Mr Buffett’s inclusion was challenged on the grounds that even though I am involved in finance and he is a legend what has he done to warrant hero status beyond making unimaginable amounts of money.

I replied that he is not a hero because of the money he has accumulated.

He is not a hero because he lives a relatively modest life, normal house, normal car etc (I left out the private plane but Berkshire does own Netjets).

He is not even a hero because he is giving the majority of his wealth to charity (although this is pretty cool).

He is a hero because he has walked the path less travelled and shown the world a better way.

Most people fervently aspire to be rich, there is nothing innately wrong with this, but money alone does not guarantee a richness of life, money is not an ‘ends’ it is a means, it facilitates, it does not itself create.

Mr Buffett’s greatest achievement is his wealth has been created within a framework of a values based, honourable commitment to excellence of practice.

It is not necessarily difficult to accumulate great wealth, see the arms dealer, the African Dictator or the former CEO’s of Investment Banks. It is however unusual to do so with principle and honour.

Mr Buffett has demonstrated over the past 40 years with Berkshire Hathaway that it is possible to profit without abdicating the highest personal and corporate values.

He is a hero because whilst most listen to him in the hope of profiting, his teaching contains the fundamental message of far greater prophets, that it is not just what is achieved that is important but also how it is achieved.

As Ghandi urged (as Charlie Munger paraphrased) and as Mr Buffett continues to demonstrate:

“It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule.”

“Be the difference you wish to see in the world”

NOTE: This is written in a personal capacity and reflects the view of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the view of LWM Consultants. The post has been checked and approved to ensure that it is both accurate and not misleading. However, this is a blog and the reader should accept that by its very nature many of the points are subjective and opinions of the author. This is not a recommendation to buy any product or service including any share or fund mentioned. Individuals wishing to buy any product or service as a result of this blog must seek advice or carry out their own research before making any decision, the author will not be held liable for decisions made as a result of this blog (particularly where no advice has been sought). Investors should also note that past performance is not a guide to future performance and investments can fall as well as rise.