A Man of Character

On July 4th, 1976, Anil Jethmal celebrated the U.S bicentennial  with his family in downtown New York City.  Several tall ships from all over the world sailed into New York harbor to commemorate the event.  To this day, Anil recalls the feeling of patriotism and pride that he and his family shared that day.

However, it was something that his father did that stamped an even more indelible and enduring sense of pride on his then 11-year old son.  The South Street Seaport saw over 1 million revelers that day.  To Anil’s mind, each and every one of them littered the streets early and often that day…..bottles, soda cans, paper bags, napkins, etc.  Everyone seemingly committed that offense that day…except for one.  Anil’s father walked a block and a half in ankle deep garbage to throw away his napkin in a garbage can.  Anil’s mother chided him for doing so when there was garbage strewn about the streets everywhere.  His father smiled, but said nothing.

This is what Anil Jethmal’s father did that day and that is the way he lived his life.  Metaphorically speaking, even though there may have been filth, deceit and corruption all around him, he would not contribute to or collude with it.  He always did the right thing and he never beat his chest when he did so.

When closing out his fiscal accounting books the previous year, Anil Jethmal’s father discovered that his bookkeeper had overcharged a client in error several months earlier.  He told his bookkeeper to issue a check to the client to remediate the error.  She protested, reasoning that it was not necessary since the client did not notice and never would.  Anil Jethmal’s father firmly and immediately repeated his instructions to issue the check.  That was the essence of the man.  He did the right thing, even though no one was watching.

Unbeknownst to Anil’s father, his son was watching.

A father himself now,  Anil Jethmal often casts his mind back to his own father to help provide a blueprint on how to be a good father and a good person as well.

In his entire life, Anil never once heard his father tell a lie….even if it was “harmless” or convenient.  His father never, even once, yelled at him.  Even when reprimanding Anil, he explained why he was doing so in almost dulcet tones.  To this day, Anil views that restraint as a leading, if not defining, characteristic of being a good father.

In fact, Anil Jethmal’s father never really had to yell.  His actions spoke louder than any words possibly could.  And while, sadly, he is gone, his example endures, making Anil want to be a better person—–if, for no other reason, his own children may be watching.

 

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Book Recommendations for Investing in Stocks

When The Winner’s Circle II: How Ten Stockbrokers Became the Best in the Business was published in the mid 1990’s, Anil Jethmal saw his account base expand rapidly practically overnight. Many of his clients would ask for additional book recommendations to learn more about stock market investing. Over 20 years later, Anil’s recommendations then are the same as they are now.

lynch buffett

For the novice, Anil Jethmal recommends:
One Up on Wall Street
Written by Peter Lynch, famed former head of Magellan Funds at Fidelity Investments, the book emphasizes that individuals should buy stock “in what you know”. As an example, Lynch recounts that his interest in Dunkin Donuts stock was based on the fact that “he really liked the coffee”. After analyzing the stock, he took a sizable position in the company. His investment yielded over a 1000 % return. The concept is that an individual, in his or her daily life, will spot a trend or see an opportunity well before a Wall Street analyst might.
The Magellan Fund, under Lynch’s leadership from 1977 to 1990, averaged an annual 29.2% return…more than doubling the S&P 500 return.

For those with an intermediate understanding of financial markets, Anil Jethmal recommends:
Security Analysis
Written by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd and originally published in 1934, the philosophy within those pages still hold true today. Not a quick read at over 700 pages, the overriding theme is that one should look for value in stocks with a large margin of safety.
A professor at Columbia University, Graham gave student Warren Buffett an A+ in 1951. And, to this day, Buffett applies the Graham/Dodd criteria to every investment he makes: “The basic ideas of investing are to look at stocks as businesses, use the market’s fluctuations to your advantage, and seek a margin of safety. That’s what Ben Graham taught us. A hundred years from now they will still be the cornerstones of investing.”

For those who have an advanced understanding of financial markets, Anil Jethmal recommends:
Along with the two previously mentioned works, the best thing one can do is to read lots of financial statements (income statements, balance sheets, 10Ks, insider transactions, etc.). There is no book that can replace going to the source and analyzing the actual numbers.