In those kinds of businesses, there tend to be easy-to-understand performance metrics that can actually be optimized for on a longer term. The bet on the business model has already happened and there is limited ability to make company-risking bets or engage in empire-building.
One notable thing about Berkshire businesses is that internally they tend to be extremely "thrifty". Their insurance operations have one of the lowest expense ratios (operational expenses as a fraction of premiums) in the business, and are some of the only ones to actually make a profit off of the premiums directly rather than off of investing their float.
what a world we live in, that's an eye-opener for me.
Well, it depends how you measure it.
In a basic model an insurance company's profit is:
Profit = Premiums + Investment Returns - Claims - Expenses
Talking about "profit from premiums" doesn't really make sense, that concept isn't defined. So you can't really say that "insurance companies don't usually make profit directly from premiums".
Fiatmoney is simply claiming that Bekshire's insurance operations have Premiums > Claims + Expenses.
Now they've mostly turned into cash generators for investment banks.
I did some study of Buffett/BH/Graham in college and resoundingly they do "value investing" which is predicated on the notion that true gains are made in longevity. Highly recommend the intelligent investor as a starting point in understanding the BH ethos.
That said, BH has done some short term deals - and was taken to task in 2008 for their involvement in CDO trading. So it's not all peaches and cream.
The reality is 10's of trillions in assets are managed by people who don't know what there doing and have little incentive to learn. Because, when your playing with other peoples money managing more has better ROI than managing well.