- Hardcover: 403 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (August 9, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743228383
- ISBN-13: 978-0743228381
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 142 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment Hardcover – August 9, 2005
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Swensen, CIO of Yale University and the author of Pioneering Portfolio Management, reveals why the mutual fund industry as a whole does a disservice to the individual investor. Soft money, 12b-1 fees, overtrading, market timing, and other management practices lower performance and virtually guarantee that most mutual fund returns will fall short of their benchmark, such as the S&P 500. Furthermore, for-profit mutual fund companies have a fiduciary obligation to their stockholders, not to their investors, and this relationship "inevitably resolves in favor of the bottom line." Swensen is also highly critical of the Morningstar rating system, which only causes investors to chase hot performing funds and managers. He advises considering alternatives to the for-profit mutual fund industry, including Exchange Traded Funds and not-for-profit financial institutions such as Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. He highly recommends that as an individual, you should play a more active role in your financial future. This includes periodic portfolio evaluation and rebalancing, to ensure that your asset allocation remains diversified and suits your investment time line. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Mutual fund managers and marketers are not going to like David Swensen's thoughtful and intelligently opinionated analysis of their 'colossal failure' resulting from the fund industry's 'systemic exploitation of investors.' Coming from the mind and heart of one of America's most successful and integrity-laden money managers, this is a book that will change the way you think about mutual funds. It's high time for you to follow the elegantly simple advice he presents in this wonderful book."
-- John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO, The Vanguard Group
"Swensen is the best. Always a pioneer, his new book presents an approach to investing that is both brilliant and practical."
-- Barton Biggs, former Chief Global Strategist, Morgan Stanley
"A legendary institutional investor reveals the conflicts of interest that induce most financial services companies to provide inadequate products for the individual investor. Swensen's wise solution: Low cost, tax efficient, market-mimicking funds available either through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or from not-for-profit mutual fund companies. Unconventional Success does for the individual investor what Swensen's Pioneering Portfolio Management did for the institutional investor."
-- Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street
"David Swensen is one of today's best endowment managers, if not the best. Unconventional Success is a perfect summary of what is wrong with a very important industry. This book should lead the reader to better investment decisions."
-- Michael F. Price, Managing Partner, MFP Investors
"Unfortunately, at the bottom of our industry -- money management -- there is a rather thick layer of muck, and Swensen's Unconventional Success rakes through this muck in spectacular fashion and great detail. It is the truth, the whole truth, and the very ugly truth. If you want to avoid the snares that lurk in money management, and save yourself lots of money, you must read it."
-- Jeremy Grantham, Chairman of GMO
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Top customer reviews
This book provides the knowledge necessary for investors to choose their asset allocations, and most importantly, to be able to justify their asset allocations to themselves. The author details which investments belong in a portfolio, and which do not, using a variety of factors. Understanding the justifications for their investment choices asset allocations will give investors the conviction to stay the course during bear markets, rather than sell in a panic.
In contrast, this book - which will never be a best seller - provides a stone cold sober and dull strategy for personal nvesting. It's particularly suited to those that have acquired a nest egg through personal savings and 401Ks and want to live well in their retirement years. The language is dull. The investment advice is pure gold.
Mr. Swensen spends a good deal of this book slamming the mutual fund industry. This condemnation is on target, and perhaps it serves to warn the reader to avoid common pitfalls in personal investing, but it goes on for far too long.
The book is too long by half. Its advice could easily be distilled into 180 pages or so. But the words contained in those 180 pages are worth far more than the price of this book. Dull, prudent investing leads to success in achieving long-term financial goals. This book is an antidote to the typical glib, alluring, but ultimately dishonest books on investing that fill bookstores. They are the hare; this book is the tortoise. Read it carefully.
The book gives you general ideas for a framework in evaluating assets to be included in your portfolio but, despite giving some general recommendations as to the portfolio composition, doesn't give a lot of specific advice. This seemingly disappoints some. However, if you understand why you have one asset or another it shouldn't be hard to decide what works best for your situation. For example, there has been a lot of discussion as to what duration treasury bonds the author suggests. If you understand that the bonds are designed to protect against deflation and panic, then you should be able to determine for yourself what the duration should be (e.g., if you're 85 years old you shouldn't be concerned about purchasing power in 30 years). Likewise, if you're 85 years old you probably want to have more bonds that the recommended portfolio since you shouldn't be as concerned about returns over the next 50 years. Managing a retirement account for an individual is different than managing a portfolio for a university with an almost unlimited time horizon. The author makes this clear in numerous ways, though the language may be more academic than most investing guides.
In this regard, some may find William Bernstein or Ric Edelman more accessible. David Swensen may be more insightful in parsing the various asset classes but they have a more folksy approach using more examples -- people often find induction works better than deduction. My advice would be to start with Edelman, move to Bernstein, and then read this book. The message isn't all that different, but ultimately your investing is a personal journey and the more ways of understanding the issues the better prepared you will be for tackling the job. Plus repetition never hurts!