Jeff Bezos’ letter to Amazon shareholders published April 12th has been widely circulated, justifiably so. It is a great read.
Recently I read another annual shareholder letter, every bit as compelling depending on the yardstick you use. But beware, this one is five times longer so block time, get comfy, and dig in.
The author was 83-year old Robert Wilmers, CEO of Buffalo, NY-based M&T Bank Corp.
Robert became CEO in 1983. According to WSJ, in the nearly 34 years since he took over M&T, the bank has generated an average annual total return, including reinvested dividends, of 16.7%. This is Warren Buffet territory.
Robert’s letter is a masterpiece for two reasons:
First, he has delivered exceptional results year-after-year for an insanely long time. A contrarian mindset seems to be key.
Second, the letter is extraordinary for the way it explains profound changes affecting the economy we experience everyday, like connection between monetary policy and business regulation, dichotomy between performance of large firms and smaller businesses, and human capital deficit. Seldom have so many complex, interwoven topics been brought together so clearly.
This is Robert’s letter: 2016 Annual Report Message to Shareholders.