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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.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2007
What a fantastic book. I came to this book whilst studying business finance as part of an MBA. My class work didn't really touch on the markets, and while I have a good grasp of economics, the mysteries of the markets have always escaped me. This book is fantastic. Exceptionally well written and clear it explains key concepts really well. Great detail from the basics (company structure, different types of investment), through calculating ratios and analysing company accounts & industries, to (what seem to me) the more esoteric areas of derivatives and warrants. If you are looking to start investing, or just understand how the markets work, this is the ideal introduction.
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on 26 September 2009
I wanted to start investing in the stock market but knew nothing about how to do so. I have no background in finance so I wanted a good understanding of money, markets, types of investments etc at a basic level... this book delivered that in the first few chapters.

As the book goes on, I found that the topics became gradually more difficult to comprehend as the topics become more complex but this is due to the subject matter, NOT the author. The author writes in a clear, concise way which suits beginners and i'm sure, more experienced investors.

The book explains the benefits of investing but it does not neglect to tell readers of the pitfalls. After reading this book I now feel informed and much more confident about investing my money.
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on 9 September 2012
In an economy which at the moment seems to be so focused on borrowing, this comes as an extremely welcome read. Why this material is not compulsory in all schools is saddening. The guide is extremely well presented and very logically structured, starting with the basics of how and why companies are structured before moving on to the specifics of investment. Investment/ economics/ capitalism are major subject areas in themselves and this book expertly manages most of the time to get the balance spot on. It is a perfect length and goes into plenty of detail but no too much detail thus avoiding become a technical bore that is not more accessible to a wider audience. The guide also serves as an excellent reference resource, although I read it first time front-to-back. Four stars for a few picky reasons. It's slightly out of date, chapters could do with better summaries at the end (i.e. what are the key/ points/ learnings) and at times it can get fairly technical quite quickly and in doing so it loses sight of practical applications. Nevertheless, very much recommended.
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on 2 January 2009
yes - this is one book that will be read more than all the others.
even good books look pretty shoddy compared to this. i paid full price for it and dont regret it. one of the few books on investing i have read right through and refer to. 5*
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on 5 December 2011
Prior to picking up this book I should point out that I have (had!) no background in economics at all. I was merely someone who was looking to invest, as savings accounts in the UK were a waste of time and I wanted to investigate more practical uses for my money.

The first point I'd like to make about this book is that it is surprisingly readable. I don't just mean the author's very straightforward and non overly-technical prose, but also the dimensions and layout of the print which makes it a very comfortable read. The sections are all well laid out and if perhaps you want to look up advice on company accounts, the meanings of particular financial jargon, etc. then it's all very straightforward to find.

The second point is that the book does a superb job at introducing absolute beginners to the concepts of investments and markets. This is NOT a book of tips or short-cuts to investment success (you know those websites that pop-up in your face with pay-to-subscribe tips for investments). In fact, the only times specific companies are mentioned is in the past tense when illustrating a historical point about their finances or reports.

This book is for those who don't want to pick out companies at random, or take 'punts' or 'tips', but who wish to look into reports for themselves and try to understand (as far as reason and resources allow) how a company is performing before going in for investment. A truly excellent book that I originally feared would bore me to tears!
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on 23 November 2010
I am about halfway through this book and so far its excellent. At first I thought it was a bit basic, but then I realised its just very thorough and moves onto topics that are a lot more difficult to understand. It explains the fundamentals very clearly (e.g. shares and stock markets) and moves onto options, derivatives and CFDs; company analysis and portfolio building.
Its important to note that this is not really a how to book in the sense of telling you what to go and invest in: for that I think that "Financial Times Guide to Exchange Traded Funds and Index Funds" is the one I am going to read after this. This book explains the basics so that you will have a good knowledge on which to make any investment decisions and its probably a very good idea to read this before any other investment books (and also before speaking to a financial advisor!)
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on 19 August 2009
I debated which Investment book to buy - I found this book to be very comprehensive and useful. I had worried if it might be dated but it was in fact mostly current. It is written in a highly readable manner and uses examples of charts from the pages of the FT which I found especially useful.
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on 1 January 2010
Anyone thinking of putting money into silly, overtly complicated financial products offered by 'financial experts' should read this book! It will allow you to think more about where your hard earned money should go.

Extensive and transparent.

Some concepts may need more reading up on since they are not explained as easily as they could be. Although that could be just my lack of intellect!

Highly recommended.
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on 28 February 2011
Being completely new to the area of investing I purchased a few books on the subject. whilst all of them provided useful information, this one was by far the most comprehensive and thorugh.
It covers everything from the market's history and how they work to how deals are transacted through brokers to the different types of investment available.
It has plenty of examples to illustrate how different choices impact the growth of your wealth and plenty of comments from experts on types of investments.

I would say if you can only have one book then this one should definately be at the top of your list
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