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Straight Talk on Investing: What You Need to Know Paperback – January 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0471475460 ISBN-10: 0471475467

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (January 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471475467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471475460
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a Harvard Business School degree and 20 years' experience at the world's second-largest mutual fund company, one might expect chairman and CEO of The Vanguard Group Brennan to produce a sophisticated and detailed investment tome weighted on equities. Instead, he offers readers a plain-speaking primer on how to build a sensible long-term investment portfolio. While Brennan applauds the "democratization of Wall Street" that has allowed anyone to become an investor, he notes that the resultant explosion of investment advice includes much that's "dangerous to your wealth." This guide, he says, is the book he himself would have liked to have received when he began his personal investments. The emphasis is on long-term goals and balance rather than playing the market: throughout, Brennan cautions against micro-managing the profile or getting sucked into fads. Though his guidance comes well after the bursting of the stock market bubble, the principles stated within would have steadied the nervous investor through the phenomenon and its nasty aftermath. Filled with practical "do your homework" and "trust diversification" advice, this book is an easy-to-read first title on investing. For readers who closely follow Brennan's common-sense instructions, a second investment book will probably be unnecessary.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Ready for a postholiday smorgasbord? Here's a taste of four recently released financial titles for your investing pleasure.
If you're familiar with The Vanguard Group's mutual funds and heard that Vanguard's "Jack" has a new book out, your first thought was probably of John Bogle, founder of the fund family who's also an author and champion of the individual investor. But since Bogle's retirement, another Jack has taken over the helm and written a book of his own. Jack Brennan teamed up with Marta McCave, a senior financial writer at Vanguard, to write Straight Talk on Investing, an investing primer that reflects the firm's emphasis on simplicity and efficiency.
Straight Talk offers three steps beginning investors should take when starting out, the most important of which is living below one's means. Brennan bolsters this point and others with lively anecdotes and imbues the book with a highly personalized tone. He frequently addresses his readers directly while sharing the wisdom he's attained in his 21-year tenure at Vanguard and the mistakes he's made in his own portfolio. These stories add a warm yet authoritative touch to Brennan's commonsense advice and make Straight Talk as enjoyable as it is educational.
As you might expect, Straight Talk is a fantastic resource if you'd like to learn more about mutual funds. Somewhat predictably, Brennan recommends that investors concentrate their "serious" investment dollars in mutual funds rather than individual stocks. His major reasons center on diversification, which he believes can be too difficult or costly for investors to achieve with individual stocks. He admits that professional fund managers have difficulty beating broad market indexes over time but still thinks professionals hold an advantage over individual investors, who might let their emotions interfere with important investment decisions.
To Brennan's credit, the sections on mutual fund investing don't read like advertising for Vanguard funds. He shares insights into the fund industry and gives investors valuable information to use when studying funds. He stresses the importance of balance and diversification in constructing a portfolio and of understanding the role risk plays in investment choices and results. Asset allocation and four tips for surviving a bear market are other featured topics.
Brennan treats his subject with great seriousness without taking himself too seriously. The glossary isn't called a glossary, but rather "Some Investing Jargon." His recommended reading leans toward books examining the social phenomena surrounding investing than to sober tomes filled with theory. This lighthearted attitude is the spoonful of sugar that makes his investment education completely palatable.
Straight Talk is just what the title suggests: a book filled with basic investment advice and solid strategies for creating a profitable portfolio. Brennan presents a reasonable approach that allows investors to filter out market distractions while investing. (Better Investing, February 2003)

"...Brennan's book...which succeeds as an excellent guide for beginners." (Business Week, February 10, 2003) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

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Better yet...anyone who is interested in investing needs to read this book.
Tim Meshginpoosh
I've already recommended it to my friends and family, and have sent a copy to my best friend.
David J. Shane
The book is laid out very simply and is presented in a conscise, yet easy to read manner.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Brascia on October 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The fine folks from Vanguard never cease to exceed my expectations. In "Straight Talk on Investing," John Brennan, current chairman of The Vanguard Group, provides a wonderful guide for anyone saving and investing for any number of financial goals.
Some "seasoned" investors may find the book too basic for their tastes. I, however, would disagree strongly with that.
I happen to be a Certified Financial Planner, thus, I think I am pretty well versed in the area of personal finance - and I still found this book to be a delightful read.
While it may not have provided me with much "new" information, I think one of the central themes is that sound investing really comes down to a few basic principles that many of us already know. This book does a wonderful job of reinforcing those fundamentals - and it does so in a very "readable" style - I read the book in one night!
In addition, I appreciate Mr. Brennan's candor in the final chapter, "Regrets, I've had a few" where he confesses to some of his own investing mistakes, showing us that even for "experts" the game of investing is quite challenging.
Order this book and put the principles to use with your own finances - you'll be glad you did.
And, to top it all off, Mr. Brennan is donating his book proceeds to charity - a very classy move.
Vince Brascia
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Tim Meshginpoosh on November 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who thrives on their broker, CNBC, or CNN-Fn for investment advice needs to read this book.
Better yet...anyone who is interested in investing needs to read this book.
Having read "Take on the Street" (Levitt), "You Got Screwed" (Cramer), and "The Great Mutual Fund Trap" (Baer & Gensler), Brennan outshines all of them.
"Straight Talk" offers very solid, common-sense advice for financial planning, saving, and investing. It is not solely about mutual funds, but rather about investing with objectives in mind.
Successful investors are disciplined, rational, and invest with goals and objectives. This is not difficult, but it goes far beyond looking at the 5, 10, and 15-year returns on the various funds in your 401(k). You set your goals, then choose an investment strategy that helps you meet those goals with minimal risk. CNBC is not the answer, but taking the time to educate yourself will pay off big, and "Straight Talk on Investing" is a good book with which to start.
Brennan provides a concise guide to making solid, prudent investment decisions.
Unlike Baer and Gensler ("The Great Mutual Fund Trap"), Brennan provides more comprehensive, non-partisan investment advice. Brennan promotes no political agenda, whereas Baer and Gensler have soiled an otherwise fine book with their partisan sniping.
Brennan is also a breath of fresh air in another respect: in spite of his status as CEO of a reputable mutual fund provider (Vanguard), he does not encourage people to invest in things with which they are not comfortable. Unlike many investment writers, Brennan does not put down those who would rather save their money and not invest.
Whether you are a saver or an investor, this book is excellent reading; it is full of very practical advice.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've done a lot of both short-term trading and long-term investing in the market, and this book cuts through the smoke and mirrors to give you the straight dope on investing. I've read many books over the years on the market by most of the great traders and investors, and there are really only a few important lessons you need to learn. This book distills all that down into readable form without all the distracting technical details.
One important lesson, for example, is to find an approach that is right for you, and that matches your goals, tolerance for risk, and essentially, your personality. If you like to trade more actively but are doing a passive dollar-cost averaging program; or if you're a more hands-off investor but are trying to be a day-trader, you're probably not going to be able to make a success out of your program.
Another important lesson to learn is that investing really isn't, and perhaps shouldn't be, rocket science. Although I've done a few very technical kinds of investing, including such things as arbitraging short and long butterfly option spreads, which can get very complex, Brennan says you really don't need to get this fancy to be a good investor, a point I would have to agree with.
And realistically, I can't say I did that much better with all the fancy stuff as I did with my more low-key long-term investments in quality stocks. In that case, why not just invest in good, quality stocks and stop all the thrashing? I was doing okay at it, but after adding up all the commissions, I wasn't doing that much better than my long-term portfolio, and it was a lot more work, although it was fun for a while. Anyway, I finally decided to do just that.
Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David J. Shane on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've bought and read many "investment guides". This book is far and away the best I've read. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's not a "one size fits all" financial plan. It is straight talk on investing. It explains what every child should be taught in school. The basics of investing. The differant options available. Things to look for, watch out for, realistly expect.
This book gives you everything you need to form and execute a reasonable financial plan, or help you to choose a financial professional who will have your best interest in mind.
I've already recommended it to my friends and family, and have sent a copy to my best friend.
Get it for your children, your syblings, your friends. It's what people need to know starting out in life.
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