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Warren Buffett's investment deputies have 'total discretion' over stock moves

Working for Warren Buffett, arguably the greatest investor of all time, sounds like a daunting task.

But Buffett's investment deputies — 48-year-old Todd Combs and 56-year-old Ted Weschler — have a lot of freedom in their decision-making.

Each manages $13 billion of Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK-A, BRK-B) massive $173 billion equity portfolio and $8 billion in pension funds and they have "total discretion,” Buffett said.

"They don't ask me. At the month end, I look and see what they did. They don't do much," Buffett, 88, told Yahoo Finance's editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer, in a wide-ranging interview. "They don't do a lot of trading, or anything. But I look to see what changes they made."

Back in 2017, Weschler and Combs told Yahoo Finance’s Serwer that they spend most of their days reading, which is critical for professionals in the business of buying companies. Combs said that Buffett has done “a great job of removing all the friction costs.”

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“There’s very, very few interruptions,” Combs said at the time.

Prior to joining Berkshire, both Weschler and Combs ran hedge funds.

Berkshire Hathaway investment managers Todd Combs, left, Ted Weschler, right, and Tracy Britt Cool, Chairman of Berkshire companies Benjamin Moore, Johns Manville, Oriental Trading Company and Larson-Juhl, center, stand together before a 5K run sponsored by the Brooks Running Company, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. The run is one of the events taking place during Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Berkshire Hathaway investment managers Todd Combs, left, Ted Weschler, right, and Tracy Britt Cool, CEO of Berkshire-owned The Pampered Chef. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

In that 2017 interview, Combs noted that one key advantage of not running a fund anymore is not being beholden to revealing your every move in monthly investor reports.

“I never liked talking to my LPs about ideas I had,” Combs said at the time. “And I think you guys are both the same. Because then you become somewhat wed to it. It’s harder to change your mind over time. You become pre-committed to your positions and so forth. So that’s always been my stance.”

Weschler added that once you put it on the record, you can become “too wedded” to your thesis and that’s “dangerous.”

In his latest interview with Yahoo Finance, Buffett also commented on Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairs, Greg Abel and Ajit Jain. The vice chairs do not collaborate with each other in the same way that Buffett works with his longtime vice chair, Charlie Munger.

“They each run a separate business. Ajit does not think about the other businesses. He thinks about the insurance business. And Greg does not think about the insurance business at all,” Buffett noted.

On the other hand, Buffett said, “Charlie and I have a partnership thinking about the whole place. And we've done it forever, and we still do.”

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.