Top positive review
112 people found this helpful
Excellent foundation for investment
on 11 October 2006
I've long suspected that a bit of effort and intelligence are enough for understanding the main areas of finance and investment. One doesn't actually need to pay "experts" to make your investment decisions for you. The jargon is only something you need to learn, it does not have to present an insurmountable barrier. Before attempting to understand the financial pages or specialist books on trading, I bought this and was not disappointed. Working through it slowly and methodically and then returning to the more complex areas and following up the handy links and references provided, I feel much more confident about this whole area.
This is in no way a "get rich quick" book and actually helps to guide one away from such risky attitudes. Nor does it provide advice on savings accounts or the specific market or company that is best for you. It is an education on the world of finance: the markets, players, companies and instruments involved in the flows of capital which maintain the business world, and much of the economy, around us. It shows how most people (you don't have to be at all wealthy or super-brainy) can get involved in this system and, with a bit of patience and common sense, can significantly benefit from it. Armed with the basics and knowing who to deal with and, equally important, who to ignore, anyone should be able to improve their investment returns having read this.
The different kinds of investment are concisely explained and the limitations of some of the more hyped areas become obvious. Some of the mystery of futures trading is resolved, and one can follow-up pointers if interested in any particular area. The terminology used by companies in their financial reports and by the professionals who analyse them starts to become clear and all this jargon is explained again in the invaluable glossary at the back of the book, a place I kept referring to.
What emerges is the way money from savers and investors is used by Banks, Insurance companies and Pension funds to provide funds for new companies, established companies and companies wanting to expand and, as the author points out, how this wealth-creation is not just a good thing for individuals, but for society as a whole. I've already started to notice mistakes in the media, for example a recent TV drama's misunderstanding of the way hedge funds work and one sometimes gets the impression that there is only a dog-eat-dog mentality and little control over what happens in the markets. Undoubtedly there are problems and excesses but, getting closer to the subject and learning how it actually operates, can help to remove the prejudices and misunderstandings some people have about finance and about capitalism.
One fact alone has made this purchase a good one. I realised, when reading the section on pooled investments, that I had lost money on "With-profits policies" thanks to persuasive financial advisers and their commissions from insurance companies. That little piece of education has saved me hundreds of pounds in the future and makes this book a high-return investment in itself.