“If Charlie, I and Ajit are in a sinking boat, and you can only save one of us, swim to Ajit.” – Warren Buffet
- At the latest shareholder meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffet took on the question of his successor, dropping discreet hints.
- Buffet praised senior executives Ajit Jain and Gregory Abel saying the company couldn’t have better operational managers.
- Jain currently heads the reinsurance business as the President of Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group.
- Both Jain and Abel were inducted in the Berkshire Hathaway board last year.
The ‘Oracle of Omaha’ dropped the latest hint on the name in his mind to take over the reins of the company after him. At the 4th of May shareholder’s meeting of the Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett avoided being upfront about futuretransfer of power plans of the USD 530 billion firm, but shared his vision for his successor.
When asked about who will take over after him at the meeting, 88-year-old Buffett praised two senior executives of the firm Ajit Jain and Gregory Abel. Buffet asserted that the two would join him and business partner Charlie Munger on the stage in near future.
Indian-born Jain wasn’t on the stage with Buffet and Munger, but still answered a question for the shareholders, which tells about his prominence in the scheme of things. Both Abel and Jain were elevated last year to the board of directors.
But with the billionaire investor dropping a big-time hint, there is increasing speculation that it’s Jain who will be given the hot seat after Buffet steps down.
Ajit is indispensable. Has made billions for Buffet.
At the meeting, Buffet praised his prodigies and opined that the firm couldn’t wish for better-operating managers than Greg and Ajit.
Jain has emerged as the front runner in the race to the top, with his closeness with Buffet well-known. Jain is Buffet’s most trusted lieutenant, has received praise from the veteran investor on many occasions over the decades.
Buffet openly applauds Jain’s credentials and tested ability to manage critical operations with ‘capacity, speed and decisiveness’.
Buffet credits Jain for creating billions in wealth for Berkshire shareholders. So much so that in his 2017 annual letter to the company, Buffet had said:
“If there were ever to be another Ajit and you could swap me for him, don’t hesitate. Make the trade!”
Unique brain for insurance business
Buffet has praised Jain for his astute understanding of the insurance business and unparalleled risk-taking ability. Buffet once revealed writing to Jain’s parents in Delhi in praise and inquiring if they had another asset like Jain for him.
In 2014, Buffet expressed deep admiration for Jain’s approach to the insurance business and the heights he had achieved in his career.
“From a standing start in 1985, Ajit has created an insurance business with the float of $37 billion and a large cumulative underwriting profit, a feat no other insurance CEO has come close to matching.”
An insider look at Ajit Jain
Jain hails from humble beginnings but his education speaks for the passion and intellect of the man. Jain was born in 1951 in the coastal state of Odisha. After completing his mechanical engineering degree from the premier Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Jain travelled to the US to pursue MBA from Harvard University in 1978. He has been associated with global giants IBM and McKinsey & Co in the past.
Jain joined Berkshire Hathaway in 1986 when the insurance business of Buffet was relatively new and trivial. He is credited with building the insurance business of Berkshire into one of the largest globally.
Currently heading the reinsurance business for the financial behemoth, he is President of the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group. The star executive has reportedly generated more profit and revenue for Berkshire than any other employee.
Jain has an illustrious relative in former Deutsche Bank Co-CEO Anshu Jain who is his cousin. Anshu is currently the President of New York-based financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
Why Ajit Jain is the next Warren Buffet?
Back in 2014, Buffett had opined that he and business partner Munger had a name in mind. He had also stated that they wanted the future CEOs to come from inside the Berkshire stable, someone that the board ‘has grown to know well’.
Buffet opined that the reasons behind this approach would ensure that Berkshire’s future business acquisitions and investment moves are well in line with the companies current functioning. He had mentioned in his annual letter:
“Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as CEO – a successor ready to assume the job the day after I die or step down. In certain important respects, this person will do a better job than I am doing,”
Jain who was promoted to the board of directors last year, perfectly fits the bill.
There isn’t anyone like Ajit
Buffet had once opined that when Jain joined Berkshire back in 1986, he had immediately recognized his extraordinary talent. He had once opined:
“A hugely important event in Berkshire’s history…Ajit Jain came into our office in Omaha—and I immediately knew we had found a superstar.”
Jain is hailed as a money-spinner for firm, Buffet having once conceded that Jain had probably made a lot more money for Berkshire Hathaway than him. Buffet has in the past said that he feels about Jain as a brother or a son.
Buffet once summed up his confidence in Ajit Jain’s ability as the top risk taker at Berkshire:
“Ajit insures risks that no one else has the desire or the capital to take on. Yet he never exposes Berkshire to risks that are inappropriate in relation to our resources.”
Although top boss Buffet has been subtle and discreet about his succession plans, unarguably Ajit Jain fits perfectly to the billionaire’s vision for the company after him. It is likely that the financial titan will pass over the torch to another financial genius in Jain who he feels confident will make many more billions for the global financial giant.
- Having joined in 1986, Jain is often credited with making more money for Berkshire Hathaway than any other employee.
- Jain is a long-time lieutenant of billionaire investor Buffet, who credits Jain with building the firms reinsurance business.
- Although not on the stage with Buffet and Munger, Jain surprisingly answered shareholder questions at the meeting.
- Buffet wants future CEOs to come from inside the Berkshire stable, someone the board has grown to know well. Jain perfectly fits the bill.