As things settle out and the attention shifts to Buffett, it is clear that a handful of questions have bubbled to the top. These questions are very painful for Berkshire shareholders and longtime Buffett-followers to consider. Even raising them is likely to earn brickbats. Nonetheless, it is essential to put a clear summary of what is at stake on the table. The following questions in subtle or less-subtle form are already being raised -- not merely by me, but in other editorials, in blogs, on discussion threads, and in private conversations.
> Does Berkshire have adequate systems in place to control risk and enforce its Code of Conduct?
> Where was the board in all this? What role does it actually play in governing the company? How often does it meet? How do its formal and informal procedures compare to the best practices of corporate governance?
> Buffett has always tended to get infatuated with certain people that sometimes didn't work out (John Gutfreund comes to mind). His personal preferences about people are overwhelmingly the largest factor weighed in the succession process. Is it time for a radical change in the succession process that would give the board more influence and consider a broader palette of candidates?
> Have Buffett's lofty rhetoric and noble goals fooled us into thinking he is superhuman in his actions? Have we exaggerated Buffett's moral compass?
> Should we be worried that there is anything else of serious concern to shareholders now that Berkshire is better understood to be less transparent than we thought?