How Warren Buffett Made His Fortune

Here’s how one of the world’s richest men accumulated his wealth.

Warren Buffett has a net worth of $65.5 billion. This makes him the third-richest person on earth. However, unlike a number of the world’s wealthiest people, Buffett did not inherit a great fortune, nor was he the product of a successful family business. Instead, he made it on his own through investing in shares. The exciting thing about this is that anyone can follow in his footsteps.


Perhaps the most unusual thing about Warren Buffett is how he spent his childhood. While most teenagers are interested in sports or music, Buffett’s passion was stocks. He bought his first shares at the age of 11 and, by his mid-teens, already had a portfolio valued in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Although not all of his investments were successful, Buffett quickly learned the importance of staying calm and keeping hold of a stock even when it was underperforming. This is an attribute which is often overlooked by investors, but the reality is that even with the best research, it is possible to record short-term paper losses.

Steady return

Also marking Warren Buffett out from most investors is his patience. Most people are “short-termist” when they start investing, but Buffett has always taken a long-term view. Instead of attempting to get rich quick, he sought consistent returns, which, when compounded, would lead to huge returns in the long run. Perhaps the best evidence of the success of this strategy can be seen in the fact that Buffett earned 99% of his $65.5 billion net worth after the age of 50.


Like all successful people, Warren Buffett has had his disappointments and failures. For example, he was rejected from Harvard, initially failed to gain a place at his idol (and fellow value investor) Benjamin Graham’s company, and has had a number of losses among his investments.

Notably, Warren Buffett has lost money on his investments in resources and retail stocks in recent years. In the case of the former, he failed to realize the lack of economic moat on offer, while in the case of the latter he failed to foresee the challenges the retail sector would face.

However, Buffett doesn’t give up. In all of those instances he simply considered why he had gone wrong and set sail once more towards his goal of accumulating greater wealth. This is a key part of investing since all investors make losses from time to time and experience failure. The important thing is to learn from it and keep taking calculated risks with high-quality stocks.


Perhaps the most surprising facet about Warren Buffett is his simplicity. His investment style focuses on metrics, which a large proportion of investors would readily understand. He does not use complicated formulas or try to accurately predict the future. He simply buys stocks he thinks are fairly priced and that have a competitive advantage over their peers.

Through combining this simple approach with a long period of time, a great deal of persistence, and a realistic expectation of annual returns, Warren Buffett has been able to amass a $65.5 billion fortune. The question is, can you now follow in his footsteps?

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Peter Stephens has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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