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The Great Investors: Lessons on Investing from Master Traders (Financial Times Series) Paperback – March 25, 2011
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"Whatever ones own predilections there is something for everybody in this book. A must read for any serious investor!" UK-Analyst, March 2011 "Glen Arnold sets out to inspire the next generation of great investors with an illuminating book on the master traders of the past." Hedge Funds Review, March 2011
From the Back Cover
'Whether a complete novice, or a professional portfolio manager, this book will give you access to the mindset and techniques of the most successful investors of our time and more importantly, it will help you avoid mistakes. The Great Investors will have a permanent place on my desk.'
Mark Sheridan , Executive Director, Nomura International PLC
Leading investors such as Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Sir John Templeton, George Soros and Anthony Bolton are known throughout the world. How did these people come to be so successful? Which strategies have they used to make their fortunes? And what can you learn from their techniques?
In The Great Investors, Glen Arnold succinctly and accurately describes the investment philosophies of the worlds greatest investors. He explains why they are the best, gives details of their tactics for accumulating wealth, captures the key elements that led to their market-beating successes and teaches you key lessons that you can apply to your own investing strategies.
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Of course you could say that the reader would get a fuller picture of these investors by reading John Neff on Investing, The Essays of Warren Buffett, Investing with Anthony Bolton etc. but why not take this excellent short cut? It is a smorgasbord of some of the best concepts in finance. The reader becomes acquainted with Fisher's in depth method for corporate research called scuttlebutt and Ben Graham's concepts of Margin of Safety and Intrinsic value. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger teach you to stick to what you know, i.e. to keep within you circle of competence, and wait for the fat pitch when the opportunity in the franchise with an impermeable moat shows up. Top that off with George Soros theory for understanding market dynamics called reflexivity and you have a toolbox that will take the reader a long way.
It is always interesting to see how persons who know their subject interpret the deeds of the investment greats. There are also quite a few books in this format with John Trains The Money Masters from 1994 and Jack Schwinger's 1989 classic text on top traders called Market Wizards as the prime examples. These two books and Arnold's The Great Investors all share the structure of simply lining up a number of investors one after the other - in this case roughly 50 pages on each. To succeed with such an elementary story line you, as a reader, really have to get under skin of the portrayed investors. Arnold does a good, but not great, job with presenting the various personal backgrounds and the effects these had further on. On the other hand the book is pedagogic with pictures and flow charts that try to explain the quintessence of each investor's methods. This and a text with a good flow make the book very accessible and both the novice investor and the more seasoned one may benefit from the reading.
Arnold also includes a very short introduction displaying some commonalities amongst the persons he portrays. Habits such as to be a business analyst rather than a security analyst, of controlling emotion, having consistency in the approach used and the effort to constantly try to learn from mistakes are selected as mutually used. Ideally I think the author could have made an additional effort to tie this together after presenting his all-star line-up. Why not end with a discussion on how the investors differ, which ones share the most commonalities, if someone is an odd man out (clearly Soros) and how all this ties in with differences in investment horizons, temperaments and much more?
One of Sir John Templeton's many clever quotations is "The four most expensive words in the English language are `this time it's different'". Apart from pointing to the fact that the equity investor - both in times of panic and of hubris - should take notice of the fact that the stock market over time fluctuates around trend earnings that grow rather steadily, it also reminds us that successful long term investing really hasn't changed over the last century. This is also why there is so much to learn from these previous masters of the money game.
If you have the time you should absolutely read the books written about and by each and one of these investors, but if not, Arnold's book is a really good substitute.
This is a review by eqtbooks.com
Re-reading this book again and again, back to fundamentals.
“In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”