When it comes to modern investment strategies, few are as lauded as those contained within the memos of Howard Marks. After 50 years of success, including publishing three books on the subject, Marks remains an icon of investing and an industry personality on par with Warren Buffett. His insights into the stock market and the economy are matched by his uncanny ability to effectively communicate the complex ideas contained within.
Since founding Oaktree Capital Management in 1995, Marks had routinely published his signature memos to the firm’s clients, and now to the firm’s website as well, sharing long-form knowledge and analysis that even Buffett tunes into. However, his efforts toward educating students at his undergraduate alma mater may be among his most important contributions. Marks graduated in 1967 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, one of the oldest and most esteemed business schools in the world. Now, he prudently contributes to Wharton, and UPenn in general, invaluable expertise and substantial financial endowments—investing in the value of education.
In 2012, the Howard Marks Professorship in Economic History was established by the investor and his wife Nancy, founded to enhance the school’s already-robust program and to attract elite educators, such as its current scholar, Professor Marc Flandreau. Additionally, Marks took a hands-on approach to supporting Penn from 2000 to 2010, serving as the chair of the university trustees’ investment board, where he successfully, and responsibly, grew the school’s endowment from $3 billion to nearly $6 billion. The feat is no less impressive for the fact that the increase occurred in between two different financial crises. Then, there is the Howard Marks Investor Series at The Wharton School, a semi-regular event that brings high-profile investors (including its namesake) to the university for a conversation about value investing and more.
His philanthropy to Penn is not limited to economic history and investment insights. As evidenced in his memos, Marks believes in the transformative power of writing as a communication and education tool. He and his wife have also founded the Marks Family Center for Excellence in Writing, a program and center founded to bring students together across disciplines, and to develop refined critical thinking, rhetorical, and written communication skills. Marks is passionate about the power of writing, within and without the world of finance. In fact, his contributions to the arts are also noteworthy—Marks is a trustee and chairman of the investment committees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Royal Drawing School of London. For him, value investing goes beyond dollars and sense, especially in regard to building a fruitful future.