On the road to investment success, one aspect of a value focus that gives its adherents a big advantage, per John Train, in The Money Masters, and Bruce Greenwald, et al, in Value Investing - From Graham to Buffett and Beyond, is that they try to limit their fields of investigation to their levels of competence. Sometimes this might take the form of simply searching out and finding really good professionals to do the job for us, at a small price, and likely as well as, if not far better than, we can do it ourselves.
As Warren Buffett has pointed out, for the achievement of wealth or financial independence one needs just one good idea. Why not: invest with the best?
The odds against the part-time, individual investor (certainly including myself) beating the long-term records of the likes of Wallace Weitz, John Neff, Michael Price, John Train, Martin Zweig, or Peter Lynch are enormous. An amateur should probably only try if selecting stocks is a hobby of intense personal interest.
Particularly in the financial realm, to realize one's limitations can be a profitable insight. So, even as we may dabble at the interesting endeavor of researching and purchasing company shares ourselves, why not a little wealth insurance, just in case it turns out we are not quite as good as the Warren Buffetts or John Templetons of this world. The "premiums" for this insurance would simply be whatever we care to set aside for buying shares in top quality stock holding companies or mutual funds, managed by the investment community's finest.
Though often undone in bear markets by too much reliance on high margin debt levels, my father had a pretty good record in the stocks he bought. Nonetheless, he was realistic about Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A; BRK/B), taking a significant position in that company, not because it looked cheap at the time or was otherwise a special situation, but since he could admit that Warren Buffett, BRK's chairman and chief shareholder, was a better investor than he.
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" he declared in announcing the purchase. Unoriginal, but good advice for the average value investor. (An added benefit of investing with the great: even if one were somewhat above the mean as a stock selector, he or she may still glean suggestions from reviewing the quarterly and annual reports of investment mentors. This led us, for instance, to profitable stakes in American Express [AXP] and Washington Mutual [WM].)