Buffet and Reputation

I have often made reference to a quotation from American uber-investor Warren Buffet about the value he places on corporate reputation . . . without knowing its provenance.

Thanks to a link from SRI Notes to a MarketWatch column by Paul B. Farrell, I have learned that Buffet's well-known statement was apparently made before a Congressional committee (which committee is still a mystery.) Here it is again for the benefit of those who help companies enhance or defend their reputation:

"I want employees to ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear on the front page of their local paper the next day, be read by their spouses, children, and friends ... If they follow this test, they will not fear my other message to them: Lose money for my firm and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless."   

By the way, the SRI Notes column itself is of interest as it addresses the question of whether the likes of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are in reality socially responsible investors. Mr. Kurtz, however, provides only a quizzically ambivalent answer: "And that's an important point about social investing - how you do it depends on who you are.  For Warren Buffett to be a social investor he doesn't have to do what I think is right, or what anyone else thinks is right.  He has to do what he thinks is right."

Seems a bit irresolute to me . . . not too far from  the 'I'm okay: You're okay' school of 1970s' popular psychology.

Spin Cycles Episode #6 - End of Post-Modern News

Friday, February 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM