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Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment Hardcover – 30 Jul 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; annotated edition edition (30 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743228383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743228381
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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

About the Author

David F Swensen is Yale University's CIO and manages the university's USD7 billion dollar endowment as well as several hundreds of millions of dollars in other investment funds. He also serves as a trustee and director on various investment boards and teaches at Yale.

Inside This Book

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John Maynard Keynes wrote, "Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. Peticca on 12 April 2006
Format: Hardcover
Swensen is undeniably a realist and a cynic at the same time. I read this book as part of my MBA program and found his perspective very interesting and insightful. I now have a much better understanding of the overall investment business and why there are so many hand tailored suits on Wall Street. By reading this book, you will be able to choose your investment vehicles with both eyes open.

The only negative is he could have made his message easier to understand without forcing the use of every word in the English dictionary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DigiTAL on 8 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Swenson is the Chief Investing Officer of the high-flying Yale Endowment; this is his book for personal investors (Pioneering Portfolio Management is aimed at institutional investors).

As you might expect from the author's pedigree, this is high-grade investment advice. I only recommend this book to those who positively enjoy thinking about investments, as it goes into a lot of topics in quite some depth. That said, for investment geeks like me, it really was a pleasure to read.

What I like about Swenson is that he doesn't tow any one particular line towards the markets. A lot of personal investing gurus take a hard-line efficient markets stance to justify low-cost passive investing. Swenson disagrees with this -- most of his university's investments are actively managed -- and yet he points out how high costs and misaligned interests make most mutual funds a bad bet for investors. These facts justify low-cost passive investing whether you believe in efficient markets or not. He points out the dangers of investing with for-profit fund companies, and encourages investors to use non-for-profit companies, such as TIAA-CREF and Vanguard (the latter has recently open a U.K. branch).

Probably my favourite section is when he outlines the requirements that a value-adding actively managed mutual fund should follow. There really are a number of them, and it goes to show why there are so few good active managers available to the retail investor.

I'll just note that the author has recently raised his recommended allocation to emerging markets from 5% to 10%.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. Weeds on 22 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is really two books in one. It offers strong advice on personal investing, and it is a damning critique of the financial services industry.

Swensen has an outstanding record as chief investment officer for the Yale endowment, which has shown strong returns from sophisticated investments. However, Swensen strongly advises that private investors take a very different approach, concentrating on core asset classes and using low cost passive funds. It's a convincing case, but one which is put much better in Tim Hale's book "Smarter Investing".

Swensen puts strong emphasis on alignment of interests between investors and those who sell or manage investments. It's an important point, and one that does apply to private investors as well as to sophisticated institutional investors.

The second half of the book is really a damning critique of the financial services industry. It's an eye-opener for the private investor. The abuses are pervasive and deeply embedded, and Swensen clearly believes that the financial services industry will always have the upper hand when it comes to exploiting private investors. Whilst the book focuses on the US, and the abuses might be different in the UK, it seems naive to think that the UK is really substantially better.

Overall this is not an easy read, though Swensen's mounting derision of the financial services industry does become amusing towards the end.

If you're after a guide to investing read Tim Hale's book instead - it's covers the same investment principles, and much more besides, in a much more readable style. If you know the basics and you want to go into investing with your eyes open to the exploitation you will face, read this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although for many investors, the stock market is the only game in town, author David F. Swensen, the experienced manager of Yale University's endowment, suggests investing in logical low-cost, fair, nonprofit index funds that track the market closely. He advocates building a carefully balanced portfolio, and strongly recommends regular rebalancing. He comes to these conclusions based on his rigorous analysis of the returns achieved by a host of other investment media, especially mutual funds. In fact, he builds his investment guidebook around a scathing scolding of the mutual-fund industry, even though mutual funds also have strong supporters. getAbstract believes Swensen's counsel will be useful for individual investors who face a bewildering array of choices. In fact, if you had a rich uncle on Wall Street to advise you, he would probably echo much of Swensen's logical advice.
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