Customer Reviews: The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own: A Do-It-Yourself Breakthrough Strategy
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on September 11, 2011
Dan Solin's previous works in this series demonstrated the wisdom of constructing a globally diversified investment portfolio comprised of low-cost stock and bond index funds in accordance with a long-term asset allocation suitable to your needs. Where Solin has fallen short in the past is in the translation of this approach to specific investment recommendations, such as his previous advice to avoid TIPS (U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities) and ETFs (exchange-traded funds).

In his latest book, Solin has apparently overcome his aversion to ETFs and utilizes several of them to construct his `SuperSmart' and `Smartest ETF' portfolios. Tragically, his bond recommendations fall woefully short of the mark. For example, Solin suggests investing 50 percent of the total bond allocation in the SPDR Barclays Capital Short Term International Treasury Bond ETF (BWZ), a relatively small, thinly traded ETF which allocates almost 15 percent of its holdings to the potentially risky bonds of Italy and Spain.

Investors would be better served consulting the books of William J. Bernstein, John C. Bogle, Larry Swedroe and others for specific investment recommendations consistent with this philosophy.
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on October 14, 2015
This book is a paradox to me. There are some VERY basic truths in this book, but even more ideas that are overtly contradictory and have been shown time and time again to be false. I really like Solin's writing style, and liked his book about retirement, but be careful with this one. I'll give some examples. When you use historical market data to make a point, some authors will show their "model" behaves better than the alternative and cite data from "date x" to "date y". Such "evidence" or historical market data is INCREDIBLY sensitive to both time window duration and starting dates. You can literally find market data (at some time) to prove or disprove ANY model behavior characteristic you want. The optimum way to use historical data (and even then with substantial limitations) is to use dozens or even thousands of overlapping moving time windows to test it against alternatives. This isn't high-end investing mathematics. This has been known for decades yet Solin consistently uses the "date x to date y" approach. That alone should send up major red flags about the quality of his recommendations. As an example of contradictions, he criticizes Jim Kramer for looking at stock fundamentals as a basis for stock picking. I would never follow Jim Kramer's advice (personally) but later in the book Solin says "value" stocks consistently outperform "growth" stocks (and by inference you must own value stock mutual funds). How does Solin identify "value stocks"? By looking at fundamentals. The point is that Solin's arguments (many of them anyway) contradict other statements, and often simply do not stand up to rigorous model testing scrutiny. Other than taking the long view (not necessarily buy and hold), there are no certain paths to success (even the long view isn't certain). Just look at 2015 where most "diverse" domestic and international equity mutual funds have taken a bath (and no, with interest rates near zero, bond funds haven't been the great alternative). Other fallacies advanced by Solin are the notion of diversification. In today's highly efficient market, that also reacts tremendously to "emotion", there is little diversification to be had. Don't believe that? Do the analysis yourself and look for the cross-correlations between investment opportunities. In today's market they are incredibly high. Diversification is valuable to be sure, but there is little to be had in this day of large volume, algorithmic-triggered trading environment. Other notions -- that bond FUNDS are clearly better than holding bonds themselves is patently false. Other problems include his emphatic statements about bonds vs bond funds. There are indeed some advantages to holding bond mutual funds, but also some distinct disadvantages. Bond fund values are substantially affected (like equity funds) by the "beauty contest" effect in the market. A company could actually make a nice profit, but if it doesn't meet it's target, the stock price falls. Similarly bonds (the actual bonds) could be delivering exactly what they promise (to those that hold the bonds directly) but if interest rates are rising, see how that affects the bond mutual fund's price. Again, bonds themselves can be doing well while bond funds can take a bath - at least over a span of time. My summary is that there are some good (but very basic) points in this book just as you can find in any reasonable investment book, but the reader is HIGHLY cautioned to exercise due diligence. Solin over-simplifies almost everything. At one point he trashes investment clubs and cites (cherry picked) data to support that claim, then says, follow my advice on this "cookie cutter" approach to investment portfolio management. Hmmm, sounds sort of like a club, don't you think -- groups following a standardized approach. If it were that easy, we'd all be able to retire handsomely at 45. I'm not saying following Solin's advice couldn't work. I am saying it's not even remotely as simple as he posits, and many of his theories have been debunked by more sophisticated analysis. Be careful here. Do your homework.
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on September 19, 2011
I have read and applied all four of Dan Solin's books. This is a terrific addition to his previous three. In a nutshell, one can maximize return, minimize risk, and quit gambling with one's life savings.

During the past four years I haven't had the lows or the highs of the equity markets but maintained an honest return that allows me to sleep at night.

The format of Mr. Solin's book makes it easy to read and the takeaways (What's the Point?) at the end of each chapter help keep the reader laser focused. Love it!! You can read chapters in varying order if you can't wait to look at a subsequent section also.

The documentation is superb. My favorite section is the Glossary. I read it a few times to help keep my thinking accurate. I went online and checked the references and they were accurate. I furthermore checked a couple of books out from the library to document the simple underlying premise.

Having read "The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read" before this book probably put me in a little better position to understand passive versus active investing than a first-time reader. However, the book is clear and eloquent with a wonderful sense of wit and dry humor.

I can prove my passive, dull, drab portfolio of index funds (with no fees or minimal fees) beat 95.5% of all investors since 2007. Can you? Buy the book. Read it. Do it. Sleep better. It is great to be in control for a change!
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on October 9, 2011
It's a very good book to get you started with investments. It teaches the value of diversification and asset allocation which is 95% of your returns. The media and Wall Street want to confuse investors and make them think they can stock pick and market time, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Investing for the long term and staying invested is the only way to go. The only thing to add is rebalancing. You have to keep your risk levels in check. That in essence is buying low and selling high.
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on March 31, 2013
This guy is terrific. Each chapter is 3-4 pages long and focuses on a single point which is emphasized in bold-faced typed at the end. Solin's work is grounded in extremely well-seleted details and evidence without ever becoming bogged down the way some books on investment do. The book also contains a glossary with clear definitions of all those aracane terms you thought you'd never understand.
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on August 16, 2013
This book will tell you the ins and outs of how to make it to retirement and really retire! Best yet even if your a novice with financial anything this books puts it all in a simple to understand way.
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on May 31, 2013
Want to know what's in this book? In brief, the author explains that individual investors should not buy individual stocks, but should buy index funds or efts with low fees.

As an "investor" who put a huge hunk of her retirement in Citibank, I do occur with the author. Had I put it all in low cost mutual funds, my portfolio would look much, much better.

Still, it takes rather a lot of reading to get to that point.

Hope I saved you some time....
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on September 23, 2015
This is book is essential for all mutual fund investors. Especially for those just out of college. Easy to read, easy to understand and easy to classify as one of the best ever books for those that want to avoid the high fees charged by the financial services industry. His recommendation for an :"index fund portfolio" works. After investing on my own for over 35 years, I discovered what I had been doing is exactly what Dan Solin was recommending is exactly what I had been doing for years. In fact, this is but one of his really well written books on investing and personal finance.
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on March 10, 2014
This author writes in a straight forward easy to comprehend style and makes a very compelling case as to why Passive Index Investing using low cost index funds from Vanguard or Schwab that include diversifying using different asset classes such as Total US Market, Large Cap, Small Cap, Europe, REITS, Pacific, Short Duration Bonds, Emerging Markets, etc. and re-balancing once or twice a year is for the vast majority of retail investors is the only sure way to most closely match the market benchmarks such as the S&P 500. I just wish I would have become familiar with this strategy 25 years ago. You can use this strategy by purchasing either Index Funds such as ETF's in your non- retirement account and Index Fund Mutual Funds in your retirement accounts. Begin by determining your risk profile such as 40% Bonds and 60% stocks, diversify using the asset classes, buy and hold, and re-balance. This author is a terrific writer and his series of books - the Smartest... are all very noteworthy.

Every new and experienced investor should read this book. It is a real eye-opener. You will learn that even the professional money managers are unable to consistently pick winning stocks and time the market. So if they can not successfully match or beat the market benchmarks, how in the world can a retail investor? That is why purchasing low cost Index ETF or Mutual Funds are the best way to manage risk and diversify by purchasing the entire market within each asset class. You must read this book and his previous book "The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read!

A terrific web site that I used to further educate myself on Index Investing is the website for Index Fund Advisors located in Newport Beach, CA which will manage your portfolio for you using the Index Fund strategy discussed in this book. IFA manages a portfolio of over 1.8 Billion dollars. Take a look at their website, it is very detailed and quite impressive.

I purchased this book used in hardback from an Amazon re-seller at 60% the suggested price of the book!
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on February 4, 2013
A few years ago I read Solin's The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read. It was an easy read with extraordinarily good charts and graphs. I already had some experience investing along very similar lines using Vanguard, and this book really encouraged me to keep going in this direction. Soon after reading the book I took on the responsibility of managing my elderly parents' finances. The Solin book was the core of the strategy, and provided a convenient tool for me to communicate with the family.

Recently I bought his new book, The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own. It adds some fresh dimensions to the content in the other book and I am currently adjusting my portfolios accordingly. I have a website where I will soon add a section on Personal Finance. I will definitely encourage visitors to my site to purchase this latest book.

Great book. Well worth the read!
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