cover art for Guy Spier: Our brains didn’t evolve for a modern economy

Investors' Chronicle

Guy Spier: Our brains didn’t evolve for a modern economy

To be a successful stock picker over a long period of time, not only do you have to be a scrupulous researcher, you also have to guard against powerful human emotions.

In this podcast, famed value investor Guy Spier talks through how his investment process has developed over the past two and half decades and why he’s feeling more optimistic in the current market rout than he has in previous crises.


In conversation with the IC’s Mary McDougall, he talks through his investment thesis in some key holdings, explains why he bought and sold Twitter and questions whether fear and concern over China has sparked more critical stories about the investment case, or if it reflects a genuine underlying reality. 

They discuss the benefits that can be gleaned from studying your heroes, the challenges and opportunities presented by feelings of envy and the extent to which fund management is an attractive way to live a life. 

Guy has managed Aquamarine Fund since 1997, achieving annualised returns of 9.5 per cent since its launch, compared with 8.1 per cent for the S&P 500 Index and 3.6 per cent for the FTSE 100 Index.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • IC Interviews: Stuart Widdowson of Odyssean Investment Trust

    In this episode of The IC Interviews, Dave Baxter welcomes back Stuart Widdowson, Managing Partner of Odyssean Capital, the firm that manages Odyssean Investment Trust. The trust was set up in 2018 and is known for its approach of investing in a concentrated portfolio of UK listed companies too small for inclusion in the FTSE 250.The trust applies a private equity mindset to its operations in the public sphere. Stuart discusses the five aspects of the trust’s methodology that make it stand out from the crowd. He also talks about the qualities he looks for in the companies he selects and focuses on a handful of Odyssean’s current holdings. This interview was recorded on 24 November.
  • The Companies and Markets Show: Avon Protection, the Autumn Statement and quality US shares

    This week’s episode begins with a dive into Avon Protection’s recent figures with our deputy news editor Michael Fahy. To say the numbers were positive might be a stretch, but things could certainly be worse for the respiratory protection equipment specialist. As there have been many changes at the company in recent years and now activist investors are agitating for a sale, how should investors see the business?Our economics writer, Hermione Taylor, then guides listeners through some of the big changes announced in the 2023 Autumn Statement. The OBR believes the tax change for businesses could increase investment by £14bn over the next five years. But what about the cut to National Insurance? How much will it actually help households? Julian Hofmann also discusses the pension reforms and ponders what it could mean for pension consolidation business PensionBee. It’s then onto our lead feature this week, which shines a light on four quality US companies, as highlighted by our US High Quality Large Caps screen. We focus in on the qualities of tool supplier Fastenal, its ‘Blue Team’ culture, and discuss the attractiveness of its current valuation.
  • Lee & the IC: A store of value | Episode Three

    This episode centres around property, in all its shapes and sizes. The pair begin discussing a well-known self-storage stock: Lok'n Store. Lord Lee explains his nearly decade-long involvement in the company and reveals why he still loves commercial real estate.The pair go on to chat about how investors should approach difficult-to-value assets and the pros and cons of investing in property over shares. Lord Lee also answers questions from listeners.
  • The Companies and Markets Show: Diageo, Reits and Investment Trusts

    We begin by discussing Diageo, a global leader in premium beverages, who released a profit warning last week. Sales are expected to fall in the new financial year with issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. The market reacted badly, understandably, with analysts also alarmed. But can strength in the US market buoy these negative prospects?We follow on with the results of two commercial Reits: British Land and Land Sec. Given rental growth seems to be better than expected, what have the businesses been doing to protect their businesses during the downturn? Moving on to our 2023 Investment Trust Special, our team gives a whistle-stop tour of some of the trusts that feature in the supplement, the portfolios professionals are cherishing this year and more. We also dive into a bit of the detail of one of the articles, Around the World in Eight Investment Trusts, including two UK trusts that look impressive.The stories mentioned in the show:DiageoBritish Land is cheap, but for a reasonLandsec fails to outmanoeuvre rivalHow to build a super-strength investment trust portfolio
  • IC Interviews: James de Uphaugh and Imran Sattar of Edinburgh Investment Trust

    In this episode of The IC Interviews, personal finance writer Val Cipriani sits down with James de Uphaugh and Imran Sattar of Edinburgh Investment Trust, managed by Liontrust.Boasting 50 years of investment experience between them, James and Imran have worked together in various firms since the 1990s, including BlackRock and Majedie. In this conversation, they explore how the portfolio will deal with a period of economic stagnation, discuss holdings including M&S and new addition Admiral, and explain what investors should expect when Imran takes over from James as head of global fundamental in February next year.
  • The Companies and Markets Show: ABF, Apple, and the ‘winner’s curse’

    Companies editor Mark Robinson gives us the rundown on Associated British Foods’ (ABF) latest results, which shareholders warmly received. What tactics has management deployed to reach the latest share price high and where can we expect to see the company head in the future? We’re then on to Apple (US:AAPL), this week’s cover story by Arthur Sants, our new US-based reporter. The tech giant’s latest results mentioned a greater focus on the services side of the business, including AI, as its product sales diminish. Arthur explains what’s causing falling sales and what other headwinds the company faces.Last but not least, Jemma Slingo discusses the ‘winner’s curse’, a concept that once a company reaches the top of its industry, it underperforms. Dan and Jemma discuss how companies can sustain growth while tackling new threats.This episode was recorded on the 7th of November. Associated British Foods reveals surprise special dividendCan Apple keep on delivering for investors?When corporate expansion comes at a cost
  • The Companies and Markets Show: HSBC, Asos and the problem with megaprojects

    Alex Newman hosts this week's episode which begins with a discussion about HSBC’s recently published trading update. From that huge share buyback to what we can understand about China’s economy and real estate market, Julian Hofmann takes listeners through all they need to know about the bank’s update.Next up is this week’s cover feature on megaprojects by deputy news editor Mike Fahy. Mike and Alex discuss the background of the article, which focuses on the reasons for the many setbacks the industry has faced in recent years. In this episode, Mike sheds light on what investors should consider when debating whether to invest in project work, including naming some core infrastructure trusts that could be of interest.Last but not least, Jemma Slingo joins to discuss tumultuous fast fashion seller Asos. In 2021 the company was valued at £5bn but today it’s worth just a tenth of that. Jemma and Alex discuss not just the larger forces at play that have contributed to this fall in value, but also the debt the business is finding itself in as well as the apparent lack of sustainable operating infrastructure.Listen to the stories mentioned in the showHSBC announces huge share buybackHow to run megaprojects so they deliver for everyoneLosses deepen at Asos
  • IC Interviews: UK equity manager Nick Train

    Dave Baxter welcomes back popular UK equity manager Nick Train to The IC Interviews. Best known for co-founding Lindsell Train Ltd and running its UK Equity, Global Equity funds and the Finsbury Growth and Income Trust, Nick is a household name when it comes to picking UK stocks.In this episode, Nick shares his thoughts on the state of the UK equity market, British luxury designer Burberry, the events that would lead him to sell a holding and more.If you would like to suggest potential guests, share your thoughts or pose questions to the IC Interviews team, email Dave Baxter at
  • The Companies and Markets Show: Lloyd’s of London and Aim 100 Part 2

    This week’s episode begins with a discussion on insurer Lloyd’s of London, which is starting to attract investor attention again. Julian Hoffman, author of the story, and Mark ponder over the hopes for the market and use a near-40-year-old scandal as a guiding point of scepticism.Jemma Slingo joins the conversation to discuss two companies covered in the second part of our Aim 100 feature, translation expert RWS and digital advertising company WPP. She explains why each company is struggling and gives her outlook on whether or not they can turn it around.Last of all, Jennifer Johnson shines a light on two other Aim 100 companies: Chinese biopharmaceutical company Hutchmed and veterinary services provider CVS Group. The former predominantly develops oncology drugs, a well-honed focus given China’s rapidly ageing population. The latter’s shares are down 13 per cent in the past month thanks to an investigation into the industry’s competitiveness. She outlines what lies ahead for the two businesses.The Aim 100 2023: 50 to 41The Aim 100 2023: 40 to 31The Aim 100 2023: 30 to 21The Aim 100 2023: 20 to 11The Aim 100 2023: 10 to 1See more data on the Aim 100 here