There’s a little-known secret that allows regular investors to spy on some of the richest people in the country. It’s called the 13F form. The United States requires all institutional investment managers, including investment advisors, banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, and pension funds with over $100 million in assets under management to file a 13F form with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In turn, the SEC posts this information online and offers free access to literally anyone who wants it. The idea behind the 13F form is to provide transparency, but investors have found a way to use this information to their advantage.
Institutional investment managers must provide the following information for every security they purchase, including stocks, bonds, and warrants.
- Name and class of security
- CUSIP number
- Number of shares held
- Total market value of shares
The major downside of the 13F form is that institutional investment managers have 45 days after the close of each quarter to file it. A lot of things can happen in 45 days, especially in the investment world. Additionally, the 13F form only shows a small snapshot of these leading investors’ strategies. For example, it’s nearly impossible to detect any short-term investment strategies in a quarterly report. However, for those hoping to gain some insights into how these big-name investors handle long-term investments, the 13F can prove invaluable.
Now, finding these top investors in the SEC database can be a little tricky since most of them don’t file under their name but rather under their investment company. Fortunately, this information isn’t too hard to find either. A simple Google search does the trick. For example, a quick search of "Warren Buffet management company" quickly provides the results — Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Here’s a look at some other top investors and their respective management companies:
- James Simons – Renaissance Technologies
- Guy Spier – Aquamarine Capital
- Raymond Dalio – Bridgewater Associates
- Larry Fink – BlackRock
- Carl Icahn – Icahn Enterprises L.P.
- Stephen Schwarzman – Blackstone
- George Soros – Soros Fund Management
With the correct name in hand, investors can conduct an EDGAR filing search on the SEC website (sec.gov). The only thing left to do is select the 13F filing report to examine. These investors have a substantial investment portfolio, so the list of securities is extensive.
Investors hoping to take advantage of this information should act fast. The SEC recently proposed increasing the reporting level to $3.5 billion. While this change won’t stop the richest of the rich from filing F13 forms, it could significantly reduce the number of investment managers others can track.