Tom Gayner, how do you build your portfolio? A talk with the Co-CEO

I had the pleasure to do an interview with Tom Gayner of Markel. Here you can find the video:


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Here you can find Markel’s portfolio.

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:05 MITIMCO’s message
  • 02:06 3 songs for Markel – playlist:
  • 05:25 2020
  • 06:40 The capital raise in May 2020
  • 08:01 Structural changes in 2020
  • 09:36 Measures for success
  • 11:56 Key metrics for measuring Markel’s success
  • 14:58 Topics that Tom Gayner wants to understand
  • 18:27 Examples
  • 19:26 Changes in the use and perception of investment concepts
  • 23:42 Owning Amazon
  • 25:40 Where does the money for the portfolio come from?
  • 29:25 Freedom in Markel’s cash allocation
  • 31:21 The insurance business – The bullish and bearish parts
  • 32:40 Competitors in insurance
  • 34:27 The Tesla cooperation
  • 35:14 The impact of climate change
  • 37:37 The impact of low interest rates
  • 44:23 The capital allocation framework
  • 46:25 Decide between different buckets
  • 48:20 The way to decide between inside and outside investing
  • 49:55 Factors to invest in people outside of Markel
  • 51:34 Markel ventures
  • 54:26 What businesses of Markel ventures are especially interesting?
  • 56:11 Everyday life businesses
  • 58:00 Learning in public and private markets
  • 01:00:29 Getting better as investor
  • 01:03:08 The climate in public vs private markets
  • 01:05:14 Attractive niches
  • 01:07:11 Why Tom wants people back
  • 01:08:47 Buybacks
  • 01:09:24 Why over 100 positions?
  • 01:17:09 Keeping focus with the portfolio
  • 01:18:07 Signal vs noise in the portfolio
  • 01:19:28 Who does influence Markel’s portfolio?
  • 01:21:32 Smaller and bigger positions
  • 01:24:01 Selling Carmaxx
  • 01:25:56 The outcome from the trip to India
  • 01:29:07 India’s influence on the portfolio
  • 01:30:50 Final remarks

This episode of Good Investing Talks is supported by MIT Investment Management Company. MITIMCo manages the financial assets of MIT through partnerships with talented investment managers all over the world. MITIMCo is eager to connect with emerging fund managers. They invest alongside young and unconventional investment firms and bringing resources and a creative perspective to the fund management journey. Whether you are a one-person shop just getting started or a team of investors building something unconventional, MITIMCo would love to hear from you. No firm is too small, too early or too un-institutional. You can drop them a line at and visit their site: managers.

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Tilman is a very enthusiastic, long-term investor. Over the last years he has taught himself important investing concepts autodidactically. He tries to combine a positive climate and environmental impact with his investments.
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