Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Money Masters of Our Time
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on October 1, 2000
I have read Mr. Train's earlier books The Money Masters and The New Money Masters and found them informative and interesting, gaining insights from some of the worlds most sucessful investors. Mr. Train's research seemed to rely heavily on personal interviews of these Masters often providing the reader with unique investment philosophies not readily available elsewhere. I especially recommend Mr. Train's first book in this series The Money Masters because this book moved me away from the trading of stocks and futures as practiced by Robert Wilson the short seller and Stanly Kroll the great commodity speculator. The techniques they employed seemed too elusive and fraught with risk and if this was the basis of the trading game it was not the game for me. I was instead attracted to the similer philosophies of mentor and student Ben Grahman and Warren Buffett. Looking at a stock as a share of a business not a piece of paper with a number on it. This was the first time I had been exposed to the wisdom of these two investors and I am grateful to Mr. Train for revealing to the public their methods. The problem I have with the current rendition is that it really adds nothing new. In fact Mr. Train seems to have copied parts of the first Money Masters and spliced them into this version. I may be wrong but it doesn't seem that the effort or creativity that went into the original went into this work. Another sort of irritating quality in this instance thankfully not present in the first book is Mr. Train's need to psychoanalyze some of his subjects especially Mr. Buffett. This adds an edge to the book that is not worthy of Mr. Train.
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The bookshelves are full of books containing descriptions of ways to invest based on historical data and models that have not been very fully tested in practice. However, in most areas of human endeavor, a great deal is learned by studying those who are and have been the best for a long time. Money manager John Train has been playing this role for some time with his outstanding books, The Money Masters and The New Money Masters. For about two years, I have been wondering what John Train thinks about the current financial markets. I was delighted to see that he had created an updated and revised sequel to his earlier works.
One of the strengths of John Train's work in this area is that he knows the people he writes about, and the chapters contain discussions he has had with them in most cases. So you get new information that you have not read before in the financial press. He also does a good job of picking a variety of styles and personality types, so you get A to Z with some letters skipped in between in these 17 profiles. These include (in order of presentation): T. Rowe Price; Warren Buffett; John Templeton; Richard Rainwater; Paul Cabot; Philip Fisher; Benjamin Graham; Mark Lightbown; John Neff; Julian Robertson; Jim Rogers; George Soros; Philip Carret; Michael Steinhardt; Ralph Wanger; Robert Wilson; and Peter Lynch. Amongst these men, you will find a variety of growth investors, value investors, those who look to undiscovered markets, intense analysts of trends and individual companies, hedge fund operators, shorts, small cap specialists, and those who focus on emerging foreign markets. It's quite a ride. Naturally, if any of them interest you, you can go further in other sources and learn more.
Warren Buffett, John Templeton, Paul Cabot, Benjamin Grapham, Jim Rogers, George Soros, Robert Wilson, and Peter Lynch have always been people I have learned from, and I was glad they were included. I did not know much about Mark Lightbown and was glad to learn more.
A major strength of the book is that Mr. Train goes on the sum up what it all seems to mean. He says these people validate four styles that work:
"1. Buy into well-managed companies that will grow . . . . When they slow down, sell them and buy new ones.
2. . . . buy stocks that are priced . . . at less than their underlying assets and sell them when they are reasonably priced.
3. Discover a new investment area or one that is . . . neglected . . . .
4. Identify a really good specialist to do the job for you . . . ."
He has a good list of common practices that almost each of the 17 do, that you should find very helpful, as well.
Finally, he talks about what you can expect for the future. He sees the reasonable returns from growth stocks to be 13-14 percent in the future (down from 20 percent in his last book). He still thinks that is a good way to go, but also counsels on when and how to use mutual funds (when they are cheap and give you access to a category you cannot buy efficiently on your own).
He constantly reminds the reader that most investors will earn less than the market average. Rather than sending you to index funds, as many authors do, he feels that by using the lessons here that he outlines, you can hope to do somewhere near or above the average. But you have to be very careful. His philosophy is a variation on the buy and hold growth stock advice that many advocate, but his reasoning and support for the conclusions are more sound.
It would be interesting to see what the stock portfolios do of those who read this book and follow its advice over the next 20 years.
Personally, I am not convinced that the average reader can take even this excellent book and outperform the market. But if you decide to do so, I sincerely hope you succeed.
In any event, you can certainly avoid many costly errors by paying attention to Mr. Train's list of things to avoid doing!
After you have read the book, ask yourself in what other areas of your life outstanding expert case histories could help you improve by overcoming bad habits and developing better ones. Then go find and apply those case histories!
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on October 2, 2013
Ok, this is a bid claim, but I think this book is one of the greatest investment books ever written. Why?

Because it shows you how many ways there are to outperfom the market and that's the important part. The people who end up doing well have their own style and investment system because outperfoming the market requires you think differently than everyone else in the market. You have to see what others don't see.

So, this book gives you a great overview of all the ways people have made lots of money, and also the pitfalls they encountered when they became super-successful... which is just as important.

Just a note... I've read about everything about Buffett, Soros, Value Investing, and all the "classics"... this book was my favorite.
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on December 15, 2013
Strikingly often successful investors have had other successful investors as their mentors and you often hear them tell the tale of how they came to realize the insights from Ben Graham, George Soros, Jesse Livermore etc. Since very few are privileged enough to work for a successful investor, books describing their work fills an important void. As a bonus you can also learn from several mentors. Chief amongst books that have brought star investors in front of the general public are Jack Schwager's Market Wizards series and the seasoned investment advisor John Train's books.

These two series of books differ in that the former use interviews to present the investors while Train carefully crafts his own portraits of the persons of his choice - a task much helped by the fact that he through his profession got acquainted with several of them. The Money Masters published in 1980 was were a generation of future investors first got to know about Warren Buffett. A few years later The New Money Masters brought forward the next set of superstars such as John Neff, Julian Robertson, Philip Carret, Peter Lynch, Jim Rogers, Ralph Wanger etc. Money Masters of Our Time took the portraits from both the books and updated them slightly - a best of compilation, so to say.

Save one or two slightly more short-term hedge fund managers, the marvelous and time resistant selection focuses on longer term growth or value investors. Growth investors include T. Rowe Price with his focus on high quality, well managed companies in what he called "fertile fields for growth" and the San Francisco based Philip Fisher who, inspired by the success companies in the Silicon Valley, through a research intensive process called scuttlebutt invested in companies where technology was the engine for future growth. Neither of the two by any means invested in growth irrespective of value.

The classic, well diversified, low multiple value investing is represented by amongst others the intellectual and balance sheet focused Ben Graham and the more earnings focused Sir John Templeton who searched for a double kicker from both multiple expansion and earnings expansion at the end of a four year forecast period. They both share a flexible intellect and point to the benefit of being - physically or psychologically - detached from the market noise. Interestingly Train has picked up one of Graham's less discussed concepts, time based stop losses, i.e. if the value case hasn't materialized within two years you are on balance better off to sell the stock as you risk sitting on a value trap. Representing the, often less diversified, franchise investing strand of value investors there is Warren Buffett who's chapter is about double the size of the others. Much has been written about Buffett and there is no need to repeat this but I appreciate the author's understanding of Buffett's search for stabile conditions as those enable reasonable forecasts of an essentially unpredictable future.

In a seamless language and with great personal insight Train discusses the many types of investors. The texts are also backed up by a lengthy appendix including material from amongst others Soros and Buffett. In a valuable summary chapter, similarities and differences are presented and the author advices the reader to choose a way of investing that fits his way of thinking and that is not overly crowded. Perhaps due to being an investment advisor Train adds "Thus the outstanding investor knows when to change styles". In reality though, most of the presented investors have changed very little over the years ("Investors should figure out where they have an edge and stray there"/ Charlie Munger) and have then been fortunate to be active during a period that suited their choice. Successful investing is always a blend of skill and luck.

A skillful presenter like Train has the ability to distill much of the core in each investor's philosophy and process but in the end there is still even more value in the real deal. After reading Money Masters of Our Time I would recommend moving on to the first hand writings of Graham, Fisher, Lynch and the others. Happy investing.

This is a review by investingbythebooks.com
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on March 27, 2005
The people who are looking to gain valuable insight as to the workings of the market from this book are sadly mistaken. This is a book, along the lines of James Grant's book, that gives a number of vignettes and minature biographies of the leading money makers of our times, such as T. Rowe Price, Buffet, Templeton, Rainwater, Cabot, Fisher, Graham, Lightbown, Neff, Robertson, Rogers, Soros, Carret, Steinhardt, Wanger, Wilson, Lynch. You will essentially find that there is no "one" style that is successful, which lends credence to the theory that the markets are quite efficient, and some of these guys are victims of luck as well as skill.

The fact that it was written in early 2000 is a plus, not a minus, as you can trace what happened to them after the crash.

GOod book, the author is a bit preachy, egotistical and gossips about his subjects, but that's OK.
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on January 29, 2013
This is an excellent book that cover detailed biographies, and more importantly the trading strategies, of the biggest names in financial market, such as Benjamin Graham, Philip Fisher, Warren Buffett, Jim Rogers, George Soros, Julian Robertson, Peter Lynch and John Templeton, to mention a few. Need I say more?
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on July 8, 2013
John Train provides a high-level history and overview about seventeen legendary investors: T. Rowe Price, Warren Buffet, John Templeton, Richard Rainwater, Paul Cabot, Philip Fisher, Benjamim Graham, Mark Lightbown, John Neff, Julian Robertson, Jim Rogers, George Soros, Philip Carret, Michael Steinhardt, Ralph Wanger, Robert Wilson and Peter Lynch. It's interesting to observe how different strategies and philosophies can lead to outstanding results but also that success does not come without some big failures along the way.
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on March 29, 2011
I've read a lot on investing and the techniques of historic pros. X things struck me as remarkable about John Train's "Money Masters":

1. John Train has a talent for prose that is very uncommon. It makes for very entertaining and fluid reading.
2. Mr. Train spoke personally with many of the people talked about in the book. He offers insights into the character or investment style of the person based on the questions he asked during his meetings with them.
3. He sums up the history, investment style, and why that investment style worked, with amazing insightfulness. He also makes contrasts and comparisons between the characters talked about in the book that I was very impressed with.
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on September 5, 2011
Fantastic book - the sections on Jim Rogers, George Soros and Warren Buffett are particularly illuminating.

I am an avid Jim Rogers fan and believe this book is one of the greatest and most comprehensive texts on his legendary investment style.

Highly recommended!
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on December 26, 2010
Money Masters of our time by John Train

The book describes the way very succesful investors did their craft.
What one observes is the thorough way most of these people do their work.
They investigate for example the annual and quarterly reports, but also how honest and
stock holder oriented management is.
Another interesting point is that one can wait untill the best change of a succesful buy of stock
occurs. It is not a matter of doing the buy quickly.
"Wait untill a very good chance occurs, one can hear then almost the sound of the cashregister"!
I have learned a lot by reading and rereading the book.

yours faithfully,
Fredericus
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