Housel Says Investing is Also an Art Form

A provocative article penned by Collaborate Fund’s Morgan Housel describes how investing, like many fields, embodies both art and science. “Investing,” he writes, “is maybe 60% science, the rest art.” Some investors, he argues, “obsess over brand and intangibles. Others say ignore those and only look at fundamentals. Neither is right or wrong.”

Housel uses the example of Warren Buffett’s investment in Coca Cola, in which there were favorable fundamentals as well as the immeasurable “happiness” that consumers apparently associated with the brand. Housel quotes the legend’s comment to a classroom regarding his thought process around the company: “Forget about share of market. I’m talking about share of mind.”

The dichotomy of investing “exposes a few things” writes Housel:

  • There are few experts. When art is mixed with science, the idea of an “expert” diminishes.
  • There are many ways to skin a cat. All kinds of investing styles, even when contradictory, can work because investors have a range of goals and the markets change.
  • Skill is hard to identify. “If I make a lot of money from investing, I may have just been lucky, at the right place at the right time.”

Housel concludes, “People like the perceived science of being right. The art of being able to repeat it is harder to grasp.”