Watching an HBO documentary about Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of all time, I was struck by a very simple idea that has served him so well, because it is such a transferable idea, and because it so obviously applies to our school, to the ad industry, and to a fairer society.
Chatting to an Uber driver recently, I discovered that he had been stalking the School of Communication Arts for more than a year, reading every student blog and dreaming of being able to apply. His traditional Asian family persuaded him to drop Art at GCSE, pushing him towards a career in medicine that he knew he wasn’t attracted to. He hadn’t heard of advertising, let alone the job of art director until he was 28 years old. He’s not built for a career in medicine. That was a poor investment in time and knowledge, but a common and easy mistake to make.
Sharing drinks with students at the end of their year, I was impressed that so many of them had embraced the school’s ethos of reciprocity and they were sharing ways in which they would continue to give back to an industry that has helped them become talented and coveted creatives. One of the intake, Conor, made a pledge to return to his school, college and university to preach the benefits of pursuing a creative career. Soon, others followed him and made similar pledges.
The big idea that Warren Buffet had at the start of his career, and which has made him the most successful investor in all of human history is Compound Interest. You don’t need this formula to understand the idea:
A = P(1 + r/n) nt
A = Final Amount; P = initial principal balance; r = interest rate; n = number of times interest applied per time period; t = time period elapsed
I described Compound Interest to my ten-year-old as being a bit like a snowball, or lots of snowballs, rolling down a snowy hill, getting bigger and bigger with every turn. It doesn’t take long until small snowballs become massive cannonballs, capable of tearing down walls.
The scholarship that I was able to offer the former Uber driver will return a high level of compound interest, benefiting us all in ways that we might struggle to imagine. He will help us to diversify our investment, which every investor knows is critical to a healthy portfolio. By taking the opportunity of a career as a creative communicator, we will deliver it to schools, colleges and families that we don’t know how to reach. Doing so will grow our pool of talent considerably, enriching the creative economy.
That’s the essence of compound interest: from small acorns, mighty oaks grow. It’s why scholarships are such a great investment, particularly when channeled through a school that consistently finds and nurtures the very best talent. One third of each intake is funded through scholarships.
These scholarships are fuelled by reciprocity: agencies, media owners and brands give the School money and in return, we provide them with a very healthy profit, which our CEO would be happy to explain to you in a call. I would be surprised if you failed to make a 10x return on your investment in funding scholarships. Make the call and discover why. Click here to discover that your competitors are already investing with us, and reaping the rewards.
I mentioned reciprocity much earlier in this article when sharing drinks with Conor. He attended London Business School before winning a place at the SCA, and he feels that there are plenty of creatively minded souls, floating aimlessly, knowing that they don’t belong inside a bank or behind a desk in a traditional management consultancy. He won a couple of D&AD Pencils whilst studying with us and made this cracking portfolio with his creative partner, Joe. Judge for yourself.
Eighteen months ago, he was learning about Warren Buffet and Compound Interest. He made a smart investment. Will you do the same?