Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett: Fidelity 'Figured Out How to Game the System'


Warren Buffett is changing the way audience questioners are chosen at Berkshire's annual meeting after Fidelity employees enjoyed "an unusually high hit rate" at this year's gathering in Omaha.

He tells the Wall Street Journal, "there's no question they figured out how to game the system," and "it's not in the spirit of the meeting."

Next May, Berkshire will "take steps to make sure that the questions from the audience are really by chance."

Warren Buffett attracts a big crowd as he tours the exhibition hall at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, April 30, 2011

Also, the allotment of audience opportunities will be reduced by about a third with the addition of a panel of Wall Street analysts to ask questions.

With attendance soaring above 30,000 at the shareholders meeting, more and more people have wanted the chance to ask Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger a question during their annual multi-hour Q&A session.

For the last few years, Berkshire has used a random drawing at each of 13 microphones around the arena to select the questioners. 

According to the Journal, more than 40 Fidelity representatives improved their odds by aggressively entering drawings.  As a result, they got to ask six of the 27 questions posed from the audience.

It wasn't that obvious at the time because people asking a question usually give only their name and hometown.

Why did Fidelity go to all that trouble?  Over the years, professionals at the meeting have become frustrated with questions from fans that are more about Buffett the man than Berkshire the company.

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