“I realized that when I couldn’t understand something that a company was saying, it wasn’t my fault.”
Mike Mayo, CFA, is an outspoken analyst and a notable expert on the banking system, but the above statement is perhaps one of the most important things to come out of our hour-long conversation. In a nutshell, Mayo is saying that companies are responsible for providing good disclosure that is intelligible.
This is an important lesson: often, poorly written or difficult to understand disclosure leads investors to believe that the underlying dynamics of the business or investment are impossible to understand. In conversation with Robert Stammers, CFA and me, Mike speaks about how investors should go about analyzing financial institutions, gives his views on the present state of the industry, and talks about the surprising tack that he adopted to gain access to company management. We also treat some of the topics he raises in his excellent book, such as the accountability of the banks, their governance structures, and the role that they have played in economic history.
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