A dozen podcasts that will help you think better about 2021

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For a spotify playlist of all these episodes click here.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the quality of free content in blogs, articles and podcasts these days is I think on a par with what you’d get in a masters degrees in times past, if you know where to look. If you are new to the investment industry they are one of the best ways to jump forward your knowledge. If you’re back to occasional commuting these days or perhaps you have a longer commute, you absolutely need to get a playlist set up to be your wise commute-buddy.

2021 has been a weird year, hasn’t it? While 2020 was a single-issue year in many ways this year exploded in all sorts of weird directions while still being in many ways dominated by covid. Here are a dozen podcasts that helped me navigate all the strangeness and offered signal in the noise.

  1. Michael Mauboussin on Acquired

Whenever Michael Mauboussin is on a podcast it should always go straight to the top of your playlist (two of his episodes featured in my 2020 list). This is one of the only podcast epiodes I have instantly rewound and listened to again simply because there is so much golden information on how to value companies in the sort of environment we are in. Why cash, return on capital and growth matter more than earnings, why earnings get big things wrong. If you are still anchored to looking at everything with a price earnings ratio and can’t understand why Amazon stock would be great value at a 50 PE, you need to listen to this.

An honourable mention in this series has to go to the epic 3-part deep dive into Berkshire Hathaway. I saved this for a long car journey and it was absolutely brilliant stuff, stepping through a history that many people often refer to but few really know in any detail. Both fascinating and usable in equal measure – they don’t put Buffet excessively on a pedestal as many do, but undertake a systematic and clear-eyed evaluation of things he did well, his mistakes (there have been a few) and where he got lucky. Couldn’t we all in this industry benefit from better understanding history’s most successful investor?

2. Odd Lots – Dan Wang on China’s tech crackdown

Lisa and Joe have continued their style of timely deep-dives into the issues of the moment with the most well chosen guests which makes this podcast every thinking investor’s essential companion. Not sure how they keep doing it to be honest. Could have metioned any of about 5 episodes here: their semiconductor series is the stuff of legend, they have deep-dives on trucking, lumber and supply chain issues helped as all think better about these things but I pick out this episode on China tech through the crackdown earlier in the year as the key one here.

3. Animal Spirits – the Big Long

This is the one podcast that is on my must listen list every single week, but the contemporary focus doesn't lend itself too well to lists like this. However a couple of episodes which aired right in the thick of the market disruptions have aged pretty well and remain a good listen for a reminder of how tough it is when markets are falling so violently.

Still always the first one on the playlist each week. Michael and Ben have helped process another year of market moves – generally of the relentlessly bullish variety – while being open about their thinking and funny too. Ben also turned 40 (like me!) this year. Also noteorthy: It wasn’t transitory.

For an extension of the irreverant markets-focused discussion packed with takes you won’t hear anywhere else you should also check out The Compound and Friends, also run by Ritholtz Wealth Management.

4. Bill Gurley on Masters in Business

Each year Barry will have a handful of guests that are 100% must-listen and for me this was the pick of this year’s. Spend an hour hearing from one of the great Venture Capital investors in the midst of the biggest VC boom we’ve ever seen. Did I mention he was lead analyst on the Amazon IPO? and that he’ll make you think twice about IPOs, who they really benefit, and what a better system for stocks going public might look like. Other noteworthy episodes in the series Ben Inker on Asset Allocation and Robin Wigglesworth on the creation of the index fund.

5. The Bitcoin ETF on Trillions

One of the big stories of the year in the ETF space was the “will they/won’t they” drama of the SEC potentially granting authorisation to a bitcoin ETF. In the end they did, but only to one based on futures not actual “physical” bitcoin. It went on to raise over $1bn in assets in just a matter of days. The trillions podcast hosts Eric and Joel break this all down with the help of a number of experts.

6. Moderna on Business Breakdowns

These episodes are brilliantly done, offering a huge amount of insight and value into individual businesses with direct access to domain experts. A great example of the eductional value that good podcasts can bring. This one on Moderna is brilliant and if you have any interest in the business of healthcare and why the game might have totally changed in that field. Honorable mentions in this series also to the episode on Facebook and Formula 1 (the business of).

7. Joe Wiggins on the Value Perspective

Joe’s direct and honest appraisals of investor psychlogy and behavior accompanied by neat metaphors and practical advice on how to do things better is a powerful combination. I’m always quick to read his blogs when they come out and this was a great distillation of some of his core ideas plus a few new thoughts.

8. Stacy Havener the Power of Your Story on Standard Deviations

If you do any sort of of sales role (that’s all of us in investment, right?) you badly need to listen to this brilliant explanation of how to use stories tactically and strategically to better sell what you are offering. Told using very practical examples of boutique asset managers, this is full of practical tips on how to use specific parts of our story to great effect to create really positive connections with others. Stacy is a great follow on Linkedin.

9. Grow the Pie – Alex Edmans on think from London business School

Alex Edmans book Grow the Pie looks like it could be set to become one of the classic reference points for modern Responsibe Investing. Grounded in only the highest quality academic work, this is all evidence-based to the highest degree and Alex cuts through the noise and waffle getting super clear on what parts of Responsible Investment there is, and isn’t the most support for. The simple idea at the heart of his thinking is a shift in mentality from splitting a fixed pie to growing the pie. This is a simple but profound shift and leads to evidence-backed arguments for a greater focus on purpose, employee experience, social responsibilty and broader stakeholders. the new revised paperback version included some brilliant upgrades as well such as more specific how-to guides to implement a lot of the thinking. It’s a bible for the new era of Stakeholder capitalism.

10. Chris Stark on a Sustainable Future

Justin Mitchell (Man Group’s co-head of Responsible Investment) tends to get some really heavy-hitting guests on the show and takes the time to really get to the bottom of the subject matter. The session with Chris Stark was the perfect preview to this year’s cop26 while other great episodes in the series included Emmanuel Moench of the Bundesbank and Abraham Lioui on “that” Edhec research paper.

11. Talking Responsibly with Simon Dietz

This is frequently the most-recommended show when I ask guests on my own podcast for a recommendation. Hosted by two leaders in the European Responsible Investment community some of the conversations here have been important and refreshing such as with Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani on the benefits of mining or with David Bryson of Uniper on the challenge of retiring electricity generation assets responsibly.

That’s my list! What did I miss?

For last year’s list click here.

Is now a good time to mention that I co-host my own podcast, Investment Uncut?! We’re into our third series now and have been really fortunate in gaining access to more and more well-known and thoughtful guests on all areas of investment. Most listened-to episodes this year incuded The One on bitcoin and our conversation with Sunday Times Money editor James Coney (The Age of Financial Empowerment).

Here’s the Spotify playlist again … just one click, play and sit back and enjoy 24+ hours of the finest investment content of the year straight into your brain. You’re welcome!

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