After the demise of the legendary Mr. Chandrakant Sampat earlier this year, India lost another of her value investing legends, Mr. Parag Parikh, on 3rd May 2015. Mr. Parikh died in a car accident in Omaha, US, while on his way to the airport after attending the annual shareholders’ meeting of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
In hindsight, this sounds eerie as Mr. Parikh, a true value investor, breathed his last in the place that’s called the Mecca for value investors.
It was in 2012 when I first saw Mr. Parag Parikh at a conference. Knowing him to be a veteran of the Indian value investing industry, I had imagined him to be an old, serious man. But he was anything but old and serious.
We were meeting for the first time, but it didn’t seem that way, given how he made me comfortable in his company. Partly it was his limitless energy and unpretentious, floodlight smile that made it sound as if he was very happy to meet people and share his wisdom. But he also resembled strongly a child who had dreams of changing the world – the fund management industry in his case – for the better.
Anyways, I got to meet Mr. Parikh just three more times after that 2012 meeting, including once when we met at his office in January 2015…
During this meeting, he shared with me his core investment philosophy, i.e., the law of the farm. “You cannot sow something today and reap tomorrow,” he said. “A seed has to go through different seasons, before it turns into a fully grown tree and starts bearing fruit. This is exactly what works in investing. You have to wait for years. It often gets boring. But that’s how you get your fruits.”
He also reminded me that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the joy, but while maintaining our humility.
“Value investing makes you very humble,” I told my wife after my meeting with Mr. Parikh. “Or maybe, the more you rise in this field, the wiser and humbler you become.”
“How can you say so?” she asked.
“I met one such person today,” I said. “One of the humblest, honest, and wisest persons I’ve ever met in the investment industry.”
Mr. Parikh was always willing to lend his helping hand. And he didn’t hesitate to tell me when he thought I was wrong. Here are two of his personal messages to me…
His encouragement meant so much to me. So when he said that he believed in me and my work, I actually believed him and began believing in myself more.
Here are his last words while I was leaving his office after our meeting earlier this year – “Vishal, have the courage to follow your dreams, and never lose your integrity and humility” – a message that echoed in my ears the moment I heard about his demise.
He had promised to meet me again for an interview for Safal Niveshak, but that remains postponed now, sine die.
I was shattered the morning I got news of his demise. I am still heartbroken.
However, as he is remembered, it is my hope the focus will not be on how or why he died, but on the countless moments of joy, wisdom and hope he gave to thousands of people – his family members, colleagues, friends, and investors.
He never did what anybody wanted him to do, and we in the investing world were always better off for his presence.
Mr. Parikh, you have passed on to the other side, but somehow I feel closer, more connected to you than ever. I can hear your voice speaking to me as only you could, speaking directly from heart.
A wise man said that to live in the hearts of others is never to die.
You live in my heart, Mr. Parikh. But you will be missed. RIP.