Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger
REUTERS/Rick WilkingWarren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sold its Costco position after investing more than 20 years ago, a filing revealed this week.
The billionaire investor's company grew its stake in the big-box retailer from 355,000 shares worth $32 million in 1999, to 4.3 million shares worth $1.3 billion in June of this year.
The sale is a shock because Buffett famously invests for the long term, two of Berkshire's directors sit on Costco's board, and both Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger, have repeatedly praised the retailer.
"If once or twice in a lifetime you're associated with such a business, you're a very lucky person," Munger said about Costco in 2011.
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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway revealed this week that it dumped its stake in Costco last quarter, exiting an investment it made more than 20 years ago. The sale is surprising for several reasons.
The investor's company grew its position in the big-box retailer from 355,000 shares worth $32 million in December 1999, to 4.3 million shares worth $1.3 billion at the end of June this year. Costco's stock price skyrocketed from less than $50 to north of $300 in that timespan, a roughly 500% increase.
Many investors would be tempted to cash out at that point, but Buffett has famously said his "favorite holding period is forever."
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The close ties between Berkshire and Costco add to the mystery. Charlie Munger – Buffett's longtime business partner and Berkshire's vice-chairman – has been a Costco director since 1997 and personally owned more than $60 million worth of its stock as of last month, regulatory filings show.
Susan Decker, another Berkshire director, also sits on Costco's board, cementing the two companies' close relationship. Moreover, Buffett and Munger have heaped praise on Costco many times over the years.
"Costco is an absolutely fabulous organization," Buffett said at Berkshire's annual shareholder meeting in 2000. "We should have owned a lot of Costco over the years. Charlie was for it, but I blew it."
Munger shared some of his reasons for admiring the company – which sells products in bulk at cheap prices via hundreds 0f members-only warehouses – at Berkshire's meeting in 2011.
He said: "Costco is a business that became the best in the world in its category, and it did it with an extreme meritocracy and an extreme ethical duty, self-imposed, to take all its cost advantages as fast as it could accumulate them and pass them on to the customers. And, of course, that created ferocious customer loyalty."
"It's been a wonderful business to watch," Munger continued. "If once or twice in a lifetime you're associated with such a business, you're a very lucky person."
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Buffett followed Munger's comments by poking fun at his partner's Costco obsession with a fictional story, which can be found in full at CNBC's Warren Buffett archive.
"Charlie and I were on a plane recently that was hijacked," he said. "The hijackers picked us out as the two dirty capitalists that they really had to execute."
"But they were a little abashed about it," Buffett continued. "They didn't really have anything against us, so they said that each of us would be given one request before they shot us, and they turned to Charlie and they said, 'What would you like as your request?'"
"I would like to give once more my speech on the virtues of Costco, with illustrations,'" Munger replied, in Buffett's telling.
"Well, that sounds pretty reasonable to me," the hijacker responded. "And what would you like, Mr Buffett?"
"Shoot me first," Buffett quipped.
An unexpected exit
Buffett and Munger showered Costco with compliments as recently as the 2018 annual meeting. "I like everything about it," Munger said, ticking off the company's cheap real estate, competitive position, and quality personnel.
"Costco has an enormous appeal to its constituency and they surprise and delight their customers," Buffett said. "There is nothing like that in business. If you have delighted customers, you're a long way home."
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Berkshire's Costco position wasn't significant in scale: Buffett's company only owned about 1% of the business in June, and the holding accounted for less than 1% of the total value of its portfolio.
However, Buffett and Munger's repeated praise of Costco for more than two decades, the retailer's deep ties to Berkshire, and Buffett's historical aversion to selling high-quality holdings make the sale an undeniable surprise.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) today announced the appointment of six new Corporate Risk leaders as part of its enhanced Risk model to further strengthen the independent oversight of all risk-taking activities and a more comprehensive view of risk across the company. In addition, the company announced that Mike Roemer, the current Chief Compliance Officer, has decided to leave Wells Fargo following a transition period.
"Our new model will strengthen our centralized, independent risk management program, provide greater consistency in how we manage risk across our businesses, and better position us for the future,” said Chief Risk Officer (CRO) Mandy Norton.
The model consists of five line-of-business CROs, along with other teams aligned by risk type, each reporting to Norton. The new leaders, who will all report to Norton, are:
Paula Dominick, who will join Wells Fargo as Chief Compliance Officer in October. Dominick was most recently Chief Compliance Officer of Credit Suisse USA and previously held leadership roles at Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. In this role, Dominick will be responsible for oversight of all regulatory compliance risks for Wells Fargo.
Brian King, who will join Wells Fargo as CRO for Consumer & Small Business Banking in October. King was most recently CRO and Head of Finance for the Consumer Business at Goldman Sachs and previously held risk leadership roles at JPMorgan Chase.
Ellen Koebler, who will join Wells Fargo as CRO for Commercial Banking in September. Koebler was previously Deputy CRO at Truist, CRO for SunTrust Banks, and held leadership roles at E*Trade, JPMorgan Chase, First Union, and Shell Oil & Shell Chemical Companies.
Prasanna Someshwar, who will join Wells Fargo as CRO for Wealth & Investment Management in October. Someshwar previously held various risk leadership roles at JPMorgan Chase, including CRO and Chief Credit Officer for Wealth Management/Private Bank.
Jeff Colson, who has been named CRO for Finance, joining the risk team in September following a transition period from his current role. Colson was most recently Head of Capital Management at Wells Fargo, and his successor will be named shortly. Colson joined Wells Fargo in 2015, and he previously held executive financial and risk management positions at Bank of America.
Patrick Dillon, who has been named Enterprise Testing & Validation leader, effective immediately. Dillon joined Wells Fargo’s risk organization in 2018 and was previously in compliance leadership roles at PNC Financial Services and Bank of America Merchant Services. In this role, Dillon will lead the team responsible for the development and design of methodologies and standards for review activities across the company and provide strategic leadership of significant enterprise-wide testing programs.
The new CROs will each provide independent, holistic risk leadership and oversight for their respective business lines and functional areas, creating streamlined interaction with independent risk management and a comprehensive view of risks across each of the businesses. The CROs will work in strong partnership with leaders who will continue to oversee market, credit, operational, compliance, strategic, and model risk holistically across the entire company.
"These new leaders bring impressive experience, diverse insights, and strong leadership skills to their roles,” said Norton. "They will each play an important part on the risk leadership team under our newly enhanced organizational structure as we strengthen our independent risk management function and better position how we manage risk for the future.”
The new leaders were named following the May 2020 announcement of the enhanced Corporate Risk model, which noted that Kevin Reen would join Wells Fargo as CRO of Consumer Lending and that Bill Juliano would join Wells Fargo as chief operational risk officer. A search for the new CRO for Corporate & Investment Banking remains underway.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.97 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,300 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 31 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 266,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.
Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo.
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Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft
Stephen Brashear/Getty ImagesMicrosoft operates in 170 countries and is one of the best places to work in 2020, according to the company review site Glassdoor.
But getting a job at Microsoft is more complicated now. The tech giant has paused hiring for some roles and moved its summer internship online.
We spoke to Microsoft's current and former employees, including a former executive staffing leader, to find out ways you can stand out as a candidate right now.
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Microsoft's job vacancies and internships may be different during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the path to landing a job there looks much the same, according to current and former employees.
Business Insider spoke to a newbie at the tech giant and former employees in Europe about what a candidate needs to get hired.
While the whole process is now quicker and virtual, recruiters are still looking for the same traits in candidates: Someone confident in telling their original story beyond the CV, and a clear reason for choosing Microsoft over other companies.
The tech giant operates in more than 170 countries, counting more than 144,000 employees worldwide. It is also one of the best places to work for in 2020 both in the UK and the US, according to the company review site Glassdoor.
Microsoft is known for its rigorous hiring process — made up of at least four interviews — testing candidates first on knowledge and then on behavioral traits and culture fit.
Each candidate is screened by recruiters, their potential boss, and the wider team they will work with.
Competition is higher than usual as the economic crisis has left many people jobless, and back in April Microsoft announced pausing hiring for some roles due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Here's what you need to get hired at Microsoft right now.
Deborah Harding is Microsoft's former executive recruiter leader for Central and Eastern Europe and now EMEA director for recruitment at the software company Pivotal.
Write a succinct one-page CV stating your most relevant experiences — and stand out
Be memorable, said Microsoft's former executive recruiter leader for Central and Eastern Europe Deborah Harding.
"In my team, we were really interested in the short bio at the beginning of the CV," she said. A candidate once wrote in the bio "I get s**t done" proving Harding's team that she was good at executing and delivering tasks.
"I never forget it, someone who actually swears on a CV is a bit like 'wow', but we bought her in straight away because that's what they [Microsoft's recruiters] are looking for: People who are a little bit different, honest, collaborative, creative, and think outside the box," Harding said.
Soft skills are also important.
You can teach someone else to do something, but soft skills are the ones big tech corporations look for — and it's harder to be trained on those, she added.
When it comes to writing to the body of your résumé, include only your most relevant experiences. Don't give lots of detail about previous roles just because you enjoyed them, said Zach Jones, a Microsoft support engineer hired in September. In Jones' case, he got rid of his trucking experience, which didn't demonstrate any of the skills Microsoft sought.
But don't feel discouraged if you haven't got the right qualifications, apply anyway, he said. Recruiters look for passionate candidates who can prove their excitement for the subject. So if you make apps from scratch or build robots in your shed on weekends, write it on your resume.
Jones, for example, started programming while working full-time as a motor transport operator in the US Marine Corps as he wanted to learn how to make games — his true passion. He taught himself how to code and then applied to Coding Dojo, an educational company providing programming boot camps, which proved his passion and devotion for the subject.
"My CV isn't impressive. I don't have a college degree in this [support engineering], and that's okay, that's not necessarily what they [Microsoft's recruiters] are looking for," Jones said.
Microsoft makes resources available online — use them
Charul Pant is an MBA candidate at the London Business School and Microsoft's former project manager
Before applying for a role, understand what Microsoft looks for. On its website, Microsoft has tips on how to best prepare for interviews, with a specific section on how to get ready for a virtual process, as well as a detailed description of its values, which include traits like being customer-obsessed, open-minded, and thinking big.
But don't limit yourself to its website, dig further online. Watch Microsoft's series of developer conferences and take notes, said Charul Pant, former project manager at Microsoft and now an MBA candidate at London Business School.
"They [candidates] will get an understanding of what's going on in Microsoft, what are its future plans, what didn't go well, how they are preparing for COVID, etc…," she said.
She added: "Having a good understanding of Microsoft's product line and the competitors is very important … I would also advise people depending upon how much time they have to prepare for an interview to go deeper and understand how [Microsoft's CEO] Satya Nadella brought through a cultural change in Microsoft."
Review academic studies and technical knowledge specific to your role
Zach Jones is a support engineer at Microsoft
Normally applicants can apply for roles on Microsoft's website with a CV (usually a cover letter isn't required, but former and current employees suggest uploading it anyway), and, depending on the role, they are also advised to upload a portfolio. The next step is a screening in which a recruiter checks that an applicant's profile fits with the role.
Then it gets to the real part: recruiters test candidates on practical knowledge. While interviewing for Microsoft's support engineering role, Jones was asked questions on how to trace information and how it is transferred from front-end to back-end — mostly technical knowledge that he would have required in the job.
For the final round, you'd be interviewed by the hiring manager, who will check culture fit and behavioral traits. A former senior hiring manager who preferred to stay anonymous said candidates were often tested through a written exercise, which required them to answer a question about the sector they were applying for.
For example, in the case of startups the question would have been: How would you identify the best startups in your ecosystem, and why? Do you have recommendations?
"It [the written test] is always a good indicator: Some would have spelling mistakes ... Others would have a perfect match, beyond impeccable presentation, and it gives a lot about how a person operates ... It was a blend of both thinking, curiosity, as well as how do they [candidates] actually present their ideas," the source said.
But the source added: "I don't think there's any rocket science to Microsoft's questions, really, giving your heart and mind during the process would make you stand out."
Prove your interest and curiosity by asking these questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions at the end of the interview, "it just shows that you've genuinely thought about the role and you're curious about it," the same source said.
Ask the interviewer questions such as "How do you define success for this role"; "How do you see us working together as a team"; and if it's a manager you're talking to, ask about their management style, the source said.
Microsoft's Zach Jones said he asked about scenarios his potential team would have faced, and added: "I always recommend asking about [culture] fit, if you don't feel like you belong somewhere, you're gonna have a rough time especially right now when everything is over the computer."