A wonderfully eccentric guide to successful investing
The Stock Picker: A Financial History from the Sharp End
by Paul Mumford
Published by Harriman House (£24.99)
Paul Mumford is not as well-known to most private investors as Anthony Bolton or Neil Woodford, but he has had a very long and successful career of more than 50 years in the City.
His most notable success has been as the manager of the Cavendish Opportunities Fund, which he continues to run. Since he first took over the reins in 1988 it has consistently outperformed the FTSE by an average of 2% a year, an impressive performance considering that nearly all fund managers fail to match their benchmarks over five years or more. The Stock Picker tells his story.
The book is divided into three sections. The opening third recounts how he rose from the position of a runner in an old-fashioned stockbroking firm to becoming a highly regarded analyst, ending with him becoming a fund manager. The second part looks at his career running money, while simultaneously recounting all the major financial, economic and corporate events that have taken place.
Mumford then describes his bottom-up approach to investing, along with a selection of his favourite “baggers” – stocks that shot up in value after he bought them. To balance this, he discusses some of his less impressive selections, along with the lessons that they taught him. The Stock Picker is unlike any other City memoir that you might have read in the past. Those looking for a traditional biography will probably tear their hair out in frustration, as Mumford has a tendency to go off on tangents, especially about popular music, another one of his great passions.
However, if you’re interested in how the City worked before the Big Bang, as well as life in the 1950s and 1960s more generally, then you’ll love it. Overall, this is a wonderfully eccentric and engaging insight into the mind of an extremely accomplished investor.