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The Intelligent Asset Allocator: How to Build Your Portfolio to Maximize Returns and Minimize Risk Hardcover – October 13, 2000
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A practicing neurologist in remote coastal Oregon, Bernstein comes to the problems of saving and investing not from a broker's perspective, but as someone who had to figure this out himself, from first principles up.
From the Back Cover
Time-Tested Techniques - Safe, Simple, and Proven Effective - for Building Your Own Investment Portfolio.
"As its title suggest, Bill Bernstein's fine book honors the sensible principles of Benjamin Graham in the Intelligent Investor Bernstein's concepts are sound, his writing crystal clear, and his exposition orderly. Any reader who takes the time and effort to understand his approach to the crucial subject of asset allocation will surely be rewarded with enhanced long-term returns."
- John C. Bogle, Founder and former Chief Executive Officer, The Vanguard Group President, Bogle Financial Markets Research Center Author, common Sense on Mutual Funds.
"Bernstein has become a guru to a peculiarly '90s group: well-educated, Internet-powered people intent on investing well - and with minimal 'help' from professional Wall Street."
- Robert Barker, Columnist, BusinessWeek.
"I go home and tell my wife sometimes, 'I wonder if [Bernstein] doesn't know more than me.' It's humbling."
- John Rekenthaler, Research Chief, Morningstar Inc.
William Bernstein is an unlikely financial hero. A practicing neurologist, he used his self-taught investment knowledge and research to build one of today's most respected investor's websites. Now, let his plain-spoken The Intelligent Asset Allocator show you how to use the time-honored techniques of asset allocation to build your own pathway to financial security - one that is easy-to-understand, easier-to-apply, and supported by 75 years of solid history and wealth-building results.
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I enjoy thinking about asset allocation and how to best structure a portfolio. No matter what studies you may trust the most, asset allocation is clearly a major driver of portfolio returns. This book invites you to deconstruct your assumptions and build them back up again. I would have liked a book ten times as long, but then I really enjoy seeing all the intricacies. Even so, there is a lot hinted at in these pages that gives you further directions to explore. Even if you are familiar with diversification, various asset classes, portfolio theory and the reasons for indexing, there is a lot of value here. I will admit the book is growing somewhat dated with respect to the time frame it discusses, but the book loses nothing in relevance.
I am still building assets, and because this book referenced both standard and aggressive growth portfolios (I employ a portfolio very similar to the 'Madonna' Portfolio he mentions, with a couple key differences), I knew I was on the same trail as the author, which was incredibly gratifying for me. For those with different backgrounds, the insights you find relevant may differ.
I will say the book would benefit from a greater discussion of various portfolios. How important is it to mimic the market (or rather, what is the risk associated with failing to look like the market, which is true to some degree of every portfolio?) What is the role of TIPS in a portfolio (or rather, when does Inflation become a central risk? I maintain that you only need them in retirement, but am eager to hear different opinions.) How much risk should you take with the credit portion of your portfolio (I use intermediate term treasuries myself - covariance vs equities is just too superior not to, even with the risk of rising rates. Again, I like to hear other opinions.)
With reference to portfolios I've read about: the 'Gone Fishing Portfolio' was also amazingly comprehensive, if not as focussed on portfolio building as the IAA, and the portfolio it proposes is pretty solid. Swenson's books are very good, and his suggested portfolio is top notch, if history is any judge. Swedroe suggests a pretty bullet-proof portfolio, so even though returns won't blow you out of the water, they should be solid, and the ride should be serene (which can be very important in a retirement portfolio, as lack of volatility both increases SAFEMAX and decreases the odds of running out of money early... i.e. the trade-off for lower returns can yield a higher cash flow.) All of these authors are worth the read.
What Bernstein does do well is to collect the results of much academic research with his own analysis, and clearly show the
facts about investment performance. The principle findings are that each type of financial instrument - large cap stock, small cap stock, bond, etc., have characteristic historical performance; and that the most important decision investors face is their allocation of their investments across these classes. He gives simple but powerful suggestions.
Bernstein's goal is to make this information available to all, whether or not the reader understands financial math and statistics. I believe that he does a good job at this, separating the mathematical and statistical details for those who want to see them.
I would strongly recommend this to any investors who are still purchasing individual stocks or actively managed mutual funds.
Still, I would recommend this book as an introductory text to managing risk and reward. For readers wanting to take it to the next level, and are prepared to tackle the next level of math that this requires, then I would suggest taking a look at "Investment Theory & Risk Management" by Steven Peterson (Wiley Finance).
Most recent customer reviews
The first calculation of standard deviation is wrong. What he said about long term SD vs.Read more
Does it work? Ask again in 30 years. Will it hold true then? Who knows