Warren Buffett. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Warren Buffett recently shared his views about corporate governance in a book.
A billionaire investor emphasized the importance of executives being transparent and accountable.
He also spoke about how he learns from acquisitions and how he keeps auditors on track.
Warren Buffett cautioned against overpaying the best CEOs. He also shared his method for learning from bad acquisitions and discussed why executives lie and cheat in an interview for "Talent, Strategy, Risk," which was written by Ram Charan, Bill McNabb, Dennis Carey, and Dennis Carey, corporate-governance specialists.
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and investor, the famed investor, also explained why he is not an easy person to have on your board. He described how he keeps audit firms honest and encouraged CEOs to be transparent with shareholders.
These are Buffett's top 10 quotes, which were lightly edited and condensed to make them more readable.
1. The compensation is not as important as picking the right CEO. However, the shareholder representatives must be represented by someone to stop overreaching even by competent executives.
2. "I worked for a company that had made eight acquisitions. None of them were successful and they couldn't wait to make the ninth." So, I suggested we do a postmortem on each acquisition like a hospital. We can objectively determine what happened, not with recriminations.
3. "It's not fundamental dishonesty that leads people to move in a different direction. It is human nature. There are many intelligent, decent people. They could marry my daughter or move in next to me. They don't get it. They are often not pushed by boards to do so.
4. "I discovered that one of the most effective ways to get one of the big-name auditors behave was to make them fear me more than the management. He recalled how he reined the company in from "playing games with its quarterly financials."
5. "The company lawyers will tell you to list everything you can think of in the 10-K as a defense. They will kill you for your quantity. Risk committees are almost out of luck. It is easy to see how companies create a list of risks in order to hide the most important ones.
6. "Women have been treated unfairly for so many years that I would prefer to give the job as a female." However, I have never recommended a woman to whom I did not believe she had the same qualities as I do in my 10-year report."
7. "I have probably been a bit more of a skunk than most directors when i'm on a board."
8. "A CEO who wants a puppet board, he or she can still get it. I'll explain." Noting that executives may not allow their directors to question them by wasting their time.
9. "The CEO is responsible for managing the assets over time. You want to hear from him."
10. "The CEO absolutely owes this to the owners. It is my belief that everyone has the right to the same information. He emphasizes that he wants to share with his shareholders all he would tell his sisters if they were running the company.