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The Intelligent Asset Allocator: How to Build Your Portfolio to Maximize Returns and Minimize Risk Hardcover – 1 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional (1 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071362363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071362368
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


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. (Business Week 2001-02-02)

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Francis Kheng on 30 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as a kind of primer on asset allocation. I really appreciate William Bernstein's effort to simplify the theory of asset allocation. He makes a highly mathematical area a much easier read for the reader, by doing his best to omit a lot of mathematical input.
This book makes the case for index fund investing instead of mutual fund investing, as well as for buy-and-hold investing over the long run.
He also shows the reader how to allocate assets and how to make the decision about asset classes to invest in using easy to follow steps.
I only gave it 4 stars because I feel that more could be done to improve the presentation of the area of asset allocation to lay readers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
The book is very clear in content, relatively short and actually easy to read even for a person who is not a native speaker of the english language. From all the books of Bernstein, which I have read, this was the one which left the clearest view about the author's investing principles. The book also has some actual practical advice to give. I consider this book as one of the best to start with in the field of personal investing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. E. Edwards on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book around the same time that I also bought Burton Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Street and Tim Hale's Smarter Investing: Simpler Decisions for Better Results (both of which I would rate higher). Time Hale's book is essential from a UK perspective and worth buying before this one. However, The Intelligent Asset Allocator is complementary to these books and helps your understanding of the whole allocation topic. I would recommend this book but, as i say, read a couple of the other books as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cass on 11 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I wish I had read this advice 50 years ago! Good basic stuff, but some of the info is biased towards the USA.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 102 reviews
218 of 220 people found the following review helpful
How's Your 401(k)? Do It a Favor -- Read This Book 29 Aug. 2001
By Scott Snyder - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I would have to agree with John Bogle's endorsement: "This is a great book!"
While Malkiel's Random Walk covers Modern Portfolio Theory, Bogle covers the virtues of index investing, and Graham, Lynch and Fisher cover individual stock selection, studies show that asset allocation alone is responsible for over 90% of a portfolio's performance in the long run. Yet asset allocation theory seems to me to be under-represented in the investment literature for non-professionals.
Bernstein's book goes a long way to correct this gap. He starts out almost too simply. Bernstein takes the reader step-by-step through a discussion of basic financial math and statistics (hitting variance and correlation coefficients in particular) as he builds the case and explanation behind asset diversification. He writes to an intelligent audience but does not assume a mathematical or financial background. I like that he encourages the reader to take a chapter at a time. He instructs the reader to finish the chapter, and then put the book down and get back to life. This adds to the methodical tone of the book: a step at a time.
In the final chapter "Odds and Ends" the author changes gears. Suddenly we are in the world of - well - odds and ends, the finer points of portfolio management. This was the most interesting part of the book for me. Here Bernstein reviews the case for index investing and - of special interest to me - value investing. What is the premium in returns for small vs. large caps, value vs. growth? Which MPT stat, P/E or P/B is the better predictor of future performance? Why is value averaging so important and yet so counter intuitive? This chapter alone was worth the price of the book.
Finally, Bernstein shares the wealth. The bibliography and recommending reading sections are terrific. This alone might be worth twice the price of the book.
In a time when we are all more intimately involved with the management of our retirement accounts, I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone and everyone. You cannot afford not to be familiar with the contents of this book. Highly recommended.
311 of 327 people found the following review helpful
A Word From Somebody in the Know 18 Oct. 2000
By John Rekenthaler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm quoted on the back cover of Bill's book.
In my quote, I admit that Bill's smarter than me. True enough--but that doesn't really indicate that the book is any good. After all, a whole lot of bright people in financial services have written books, most of which are hazardous to your wealth.
Bill's book is different because Bill's personality is different. First, he's honest. He wants to be correct, not to get his hands on your money. Second, he has no apparent ego. If he believes something and you convince him otherwise, then he will happily change his belief. The first trait is uncommon among smart people who work in financial services. The second is rarer still.
This book isn't especially difficult to read but its concepts are profound. If you understand it, you will know more about the fundamental principles of investing than 99.9% of all MBAs and Chartered Financial Analysts. Eventually, I suspect, you'll end up richer for your troubles, as well.
Caveats. This book isn't for stock traders or anyone else who believes that they can get rich quickly. In addition, it's not beach reading. Although Bill writes very clearly and well, the book does take on serious material, so it demands serious attention. If you don't like to think, you won't enjoy the book.
If you're still with me, buy the darn thing!
99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
The Intelligent asset allocator 29 Nov. 2001
By john a horstkamp - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb investment book. Bernstein first covers basic statistical topics and historical risk and return data for stocks, bonds and bills. He then presents a lucid discussion of portfolio theory and its applications for the small investor. The most important result of this theory is that the risk and return of a portfolio are very different from the risk and return of its constituent parts, so that adding a 'risky' asset to a portfolio can actually decrease the portfolio's overall volatility. This discussion requires only minimal mathematical background. Bernstein then takes on the controversial topic of market efficiency. He also describes stock valuation models, current valuation levels, growth and value investing, Fama and French's three factor model, the concept of the efficient frontier and numerous other important topics in finance. But the discussion throughout is very clear and understandable as well as practical. After making a compelling case for index investing with periodic rebalancing, Bernstein presents helpful Vanguard and DFA model portfolios. What the author has done is to take the most significant results from academic finance and translated them into English for the individual investor. He has done investors a great service.
108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
A classic investment book in the making 14 Oct. 2000
By R. Love - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Few investment books rarely deserve our time and attention but this is a "must read" for novice and experienced investors alike.
If you've read anything by Bogle, Malkiel, Swedroe or Graham, then you'll appreciate Berstein's book. And given the current market situation and volatility, your nerves will be calmed by what Berstein has to offer.
The arguments are cogent and the text is well-written which makes this book easy to read again and again. And best of all, you can act on his recommendations for how to get started on constructing and re-balancing a diversified portfolio.
What's the big message to grok then from reading this book? (Let me whisper this to you very quietly so as not to disturb the brokerage and fund managers). Stock picking and active fund management are not as effective (consistently) as simply buying and holding a diverse set of asset classes. Most of which can be assembled and maintained using low-cost index funds. (Bernstein also points out the importance of low transaction costs and fees on performance/returns).
You may have heard this before but Berstein has done the hard part and now explains in detail why this is the case if not the law of intelligent investing. Is this case, what you don't know about investment risk will hurt you.
But the bigger message is that market risk is real. Asset values go up and down. However, by applying intelligent asset allocation, your individual portfolio risk can be managed (even minimized) while at the same time achieving reasonable rates of investment return. In other words, owning and investing in a diversified set of assets is the single most important investment policy decision you will make. Period.
Imagine that. Stock picking and hot hand mutual funds don't work as effectively as a diversified portfolio of index funds in the long run. And this is key because intelligent investing is all about time. Buying and holding a diversified portfolio for long periods of time. And most importantly, maintaining a disciplined approach to asset allocation and re-balancing on an annual basis.
Who should read this book? For starters, anyone who has won the big prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Read this book before you call a broker.
Secondly, any individual managing their own investments and/or 401K investments.
Finally, to all reformed stock pickers and chartists: do you want to sleep better at night? Read this book as well as Swedroe's book. As much as we would like to have our own black box trading systems to out perform/hedge the market, it probably isn't going to happen on this planet. Just ask the folks at Long Term Capital Management or George Soros or Julian Robertson.
If you're still not convinced of Bill Bernstein's wisdom, then go to his [site] and read his quarterly journals. His understanding and grasp of the subject are inspiring even to first time investors like myself. And he's a good writer too!
76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Let the good doctor stimulate your thinking 8 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
My copy of William Bernstein's new book, " The Intelligent Asset Allocator," has arrived, and I give the book a very high recommendation for anyone interested in this vital subject. Fundamental mathematical concepts of geometric return, standard deviation, and correlation are given clear and understandable definition. The real-world behavior of investment portfolios is dissected with intelligence and insight.
Portfolio optimization (its limitations as well as its legitimate uses), portfolio rebalancing, indexing (Mr. Bernstein's arguments against active management might even surpass Mr. Bogle's), Dunn's Law, efficient markets, random walks, momentum factors, the three-factor model, behavioral finance, and numerous other topics are given full and rewarding discussion.
I especially found Mr. Bernstein's treatment of investor utility functions to be especially insightful. In addition to the usual concern with risk tolerance, he suggests an investor must decide on how simple or complicated one`s investment plan must be, and also how tolerant or intolerant one will be concerning tracking error to the market index as fundamental to implementing one's asset allocation plan.
In implementing asset allocations Mr. Bernstein considers the two indexing giants: Vanguard and DFA. Readers will find this section especially valuable.
This just scratches the surface; thought-provoking insights are available on just about every page of this absorbing book.
My recommendation may carry very little weight in your estimations, so I would add that the front jacket to the text contains a small, sunny emblem with the following inscription:
"This is a GREAT book!" John C. Bogle
Amen to that, blb
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