This is the top ASX 200 share I wish I’d bought when starting out

Looking for a top ASX 200 share to start investing with? Here’s one idea that I wish someone told me about…

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It’s starting to feel like a long time ago that this writer started on the investing journey.

Investing is a discipline where you can always do better, and one that no one can ever truly master to perfection. Even legendary investors like Warren Buffett make plenty of mistakes.

But it is also a discipline where one mustn’t make ‘perfect’ the enemy of ‘good’. My first investment into an ASX 200 share was not a perfect one. In fact, it remains the worst investment I’ve ever made. It was Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH) if you must know, and it cost me dearly. But making such a fatal error so early on proved fortuitous. It prompted me to learn fast.

So what ASX 200 share would I buy if I could go back and do it all again? Well, I won’t take the easy way out and find the share that has been appreciated by the most over the past seven years.

Instead, let’s go with Washington H Soul Pattinson and Co Ltd (ASX: SOL). I own Soul Patts shares today. But I wish I had bought them sooner than I did.

What makes Soul Patts an ideal ASX 200 share to start out with?

Soul Patts is one of the most diversified ASX 200 shares on the market. It doesn’t really function as your traditional company. Rather, Soul Patts’ primary business is owning large chunks of other ASX shares, investing in them on behalf of its shareholders.

Today, it owns stakes in businesses ranging from Brickworks Ltd (ASX: BKW) and BKI Investment Co Ltd (ASX: BKI) to TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPG) and New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX: NHC). This is one reason I’m attracted to the company – it really functions as several investments in one.

But this also means that someone else (in this case, Soul Patts’ management) is investing on my behalf. So what gives me the confidence to trust someone else in this matter?

A rock-solid track record.

For one, Soul Patts is the only ASX 200 share that can boast of a track record of increasing its annual dividend every year for more than two decades.

But the company also has the capital gains to back that already-impressive statistic up. Back in March, Soul Patts told investors that its shares had averaged a compounded annual return of 14.5% since 1981.

These factors combine to make Soul Patts the perfect bottom drawer investment in my opinion. And that makes it the ASX 200 share I wish I had bought when starting out on my investing journey.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has positions in Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Brickworks and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Brickworks and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended TPG Telecom Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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