“Expect Less,” Says Charlie Munger. But Should Investors Really Listen?

By Oke Kay Snyder

Ah, there it was—the annual congregation of business disciples at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual meeting, a Mecca for anyone who can spell ‘investment’ without peeking at their autocorrect. Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, was his usual charismatic self, waxing eloquent about how glorious it is to be living in this age. Right when we thought we could hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” in comes Charlie Munger, Buffett’s evergreen sidekick, to say, “Hold your horses, kids.”

The Curious Case of Buffett and Munger: The Optimist and The Pragmatist

While Buffett sees life through rose-colored Google Glasses, Munger insists on reading the fine print. “Expect less,” he grumbled, in his typically understated manner, which we’ve all come to begrudgingly respect. Apparently, for Munger, happiness is like a Wi-Fi signal—best enjoyed when you have no expectations of it working smoothly.

A Flood of Young Wealth Managers: The New Avocado Toast?

Munger didn’t stop at just raining on Buffett’s parade; he went on to raise an alarm about the sudden influx of bright, young minds into the wealth management sector. “We don’t need as many wealth managers as we have,” he declared. To which I say, “Oh, come now, Charlie. If we can accommodate influencers, YouTubers, and people who think that a gluten-free diet is an identity, we can surely make room for a few more wealth managers.”

Should Investors “Expect Less”?

So what’s the takeaway here for the likes of you and me? Should we immediately stash our Robinhood apps, fire our financial advisors, and settle for keeping our money in a mattress—preferably fireproof? Maybe not.

See, Munger is a man of old values—hard work, frugality, honor, trust, and avoiding stupidity like it’s a nut allergy. These qualities have turned Berkshire Hathaway into a $500 billion behemoth and made Munger’s advice something akin to financial scripture.

You Do You, But with Caveats

It might be wise to listen to Munger, but with a grain of salt—or maybe a salt mine. Life is a balance, and as tempting as it is to YOLO our way through the stock market, a dash of Munger’s caution could be the perfect antidote to our speculative fevers. But just as you shouldn’t bet your entire savings on the newest meme stock, it’s not advisable to pack up and adopt a hermit lifestyle just because Mr. Munger tells you to “expect less.”

In the Grand Scheme of Things

Charlie Munger is a living legend, a repository of wisdom. But he’s also a man born in 1924 who chuckles at the idea of going back to those times. Let’s remember that Munger and Buffett live in a universe that most of us can only aspire to understand, let alone inhabit. There’s plenty of room for both optimism and caution in our world.

So should we expect less? Maybe. But in the words of another great philosopher, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Here’s to taking the shot, but maybe, just maybe, aiming a little more carefully. Cheers!


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