Fri, September 29, 2023

What is coattail investing, and how does it work exactly?

What is coattail investing, and how does it work exactly?

Are you one of those passionate investors who are looking for an ideal investment strategy? If so, have you heard of the famous Coattail investing? And ultimately, how advisable and profitable is such a strategy these days?

Whether you are an absolute newbie in this business or have relevant investing experience, any new strategy that can give you serious income in the long run is worth studying.

In the following text, you will find out what the Coattail investing definition means and how to use it to make significant profits. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

Get to know the Coattail investing definition.

Coattail investing involves replicating the trades of renowned and consistently successful investors such as Warren Buffett and James Altucher.

This approach allows investors to “ride the coattails” of reputed investors, using tools like and to optimize their assets. It aims to reproduce the successes of these giants in the stock-picking realm, much like Atticus Capital or other notable hedge funds.

With the rise of the internet and media platforms, the mediocre investor is able to understand quickly where these big market movers are directing their funds. For instance, data from sites like can provide insights into the top holdings of mutual funds.

Understanding Coattail Investing better

coattail investing

Guided by the SEC’s regulations and the investment process, investors with portfolios exceeding $100 million must disclose their quarterly holdings through SEC Form 13F. This state information provides transparency, granting public access to mimic trades and investment choices of market leaders. 

Tools and websites, including “”, where thought leaders like James Altucher share insights — are instrumental in decoding these moves.

While these filings are valuable, investors should be wary of the up-to-90-day delay before fresh data becomes available. This interval might misalign one’s strategy with the actions of the targeted investor.

What is the essence of coattail investing?

Coattail investing is about copying the right investor. Some people prefer Warren Buffett’s long-term approach. Others are attracted to hedge funds that use complex strategies, including options, OTC derivatives, and credit default swaps.

As Felix Salmon underscores, grasping these subtleties is crucial for effective coattail investing.

An example of Coattail investing

An example of Coattail investing

Imagine a fictional 13F filing presented on September 10 by ABC Capital Group. From this document, we learn that by the quarter ending July 15, ABC augmented its stakes in the following:

  • Apple (AAPL)
  • Wells Fargo (WFC)
  • Citigroup ©
  • Blue Cap (BCAP) by roughly 9%, 4.2%, 3.7%, and 2.8%, respectively.

Concurrently, it decreased its stake in Global Tech (GTECH) by slightly over 6%. Every other position in the ABC portfolio remained the same, indicating a generally consistent assets approach.

Investors aiming to mirror ABC’s strategy and “follow in their footsteps” might regularly check this firm’s 13F filings and modify their holdings to match.

How to practice this type of investing?

The 2012 analysis by Boston’s Aite Group highlighted mimicking investments as a dominant wealth management strategy. Investors often monitor the moves of prosperous peers, cautious of stale information and keen on understanding hedge positions. 

Those with assets over $100 million must register trades with the SEC quarterly, revealing strategies like ‘trade xyz’ and their time horizon.

Using platforms like GuruFocus, shadow investors can conveniently track successful portfolios. Such services consistently monitor top-tier investors, providing insights for a fee and eliminating the legwork of pinpointing optimum investments.

What pitfalls might one encounter with coattail investing?

stock trading

Here are the most probable risks of coattail investing you need to consider:

Extended Return Timelines and Expense Ratios

Certain investments, like index and stock funds, demand longer durations for significant gains. 

Impatient investors, lured by short-term returns, might offload their assets prematurely, incurring losses. 

Moreover, the overlooked expense ratios linked with investment management can erode profits.

Oversaturation of Followers and Disclosure Delays 

With numerous investors keen to “trade like XYZ” by watching financial gurus’ moves, obtaining timely data can be challenging. In the dynamic stock market, insights can age rapidly. 

Activist investors, sometimes dabbling in futures contracts or mutual funds, may have strategies not evident in the initial disclosure, leading to potential misinterpretations.

Keys to Succeeding as a Coattail Investor

Investors Look Out for UK Employment and Wage Growth Data

To thrive in coattail investing, leverage the strategies of successful, professionally managed portfolios but with a discerning approach:

1. In-depth Research: Don’t invest solely based on a successful investor’s choices. Scrutinize investments, using resources like SEC Form 13F to reveal potential risks or benefits. This ensures you’re not unthinkingly chasing high returns but are informed of underlying factors.

2. Patience is Virtuous: Notable investors play the long game, often with a significant net worth. Some investments, like index and stock funds, necessitate a 7 to 10-year horizon to realize peak value. Also, watch for artificial stock price hikes, which might not reflect long-term value.

3. Diversify Your Mentors: Don’t tether yourself to one expert. Spread your attention across multiple hedge fund managers, activist investors, and sectors. By diversifying, you spread risk and tap into varied expertise, hedging strategies, and asset styles.

4. Vetted Sources: Align with credible individuals who regularly disclose their buys and sells, such as through conferences or financial publications. Given the complexities of futures contracts, mutual funds’ expense ratios, and other investment nuances, insights from proven players can be invaluable.

Bottom line

Coattail investing is more than replicating professionals’ moves. It demands understanding short-term and long-term strategies, from stock funds to complex hedge fund investments. 

Essentially, it’s about following seasoned investors to leverage their market expertise. However, like any strategy, it requires due diligence, patience, and a solid grasp of the financial realm. 

As with any investment approach, assessing personal risk tolerance is crucial and ensuring that following another’s path aligns with one’s financial goals.


coattail investing: FAQ

What is Coattail Investing?

Coattail investing involves replicating the trades of renowned and consistently successful investors such as Warren Buffett and James Altucher.

How does one practice Coattail Investing?

By utilizing tools and platforms like,, and GuruFocus to track and mirror the moves of successful investors, using insights from their SEC Form 13F filings.

What are the risks associated with Coattail Investing?

Potential risks include extended return timelines, expense ratios, oversaturation of followers, disclosure delays, and misinterpretation of the initial disclosed strategies.

How can one succeed as a Coattail Investor?

To thrive, one should conduct in-depth research, exercise patience, diversify mentors, and rely on vetted sources for accurate information.

Is Coattail Investing suitable for every investor?

While it leverages the expertise of seasoned investors, it requires understanding, due diligence, patience, and aligning with one’s personal risk tolerance and financial goals.



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