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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating studies of 12 stock market millionaires
One of the most fascinating things about the twelve `pen portraits' that make up the bulk of this excellent book is that the investment strategies used are so vary varied. From Khalid's frenetic day trading, to John Lee's long term approach, from Eric's regular meetings and telephone calls with company directors, to Bill's focus on just the raw numbers...
Published on 19 April 2011 by S. Holdsworth

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Working hard is the secret of success
This book is certainly an interesting and easy read. But what can one learn from this book?

It is clear that all the investors profiled work hard to achieve their results, but in many different ways, i.e. there is no simple formula you can follow except to study hard and learn from experience.

They also typically have focussed on the small-cap sector...
Published on 24 April 2011 by Rw Lawson


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating studies of 12 stock market millionaires, 19 April 2011
By 
S. Holdsworth (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of the most fascinating things about the twelve `pen portraits' that make up the bulk of this excellent book is that the investment strategies used are so vary varied. From Khalid's frenetic day trading, to John Lee's long term approach, from Eric's regular meetings and telephone calls with company directors, to Bill's focus on just the raw numbers.

Bulletin boards are full of discussion about which is the best strategy, but the fact that these 12 investors have all made millions using such very different ones would seem to lead to the conclusion that the only `best' strategy is the one that's best for you.

One way in which this book works so well is that for each interviewee, there is quite detailed information about their personal background, which in most cases helps to give a valuable insight into how each one settled on their own `best' strategy.

One small criticism could be that all twelve interviewees are male, and ten of them are between 44 and 56 (the other two are in their sixties), but this is partly mitigated by the fact that within this admittedly narrow demographic there is a large diversity of background.

The book is rounded off nicely with a brief and interesting chapter in which the author summarises his research and offers his own conclusions.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the stock market, or indeed anybody who has ever dreamed of accumulating enough `free capital' to enable them to give up work.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How different strategies can result in big gains, 22 April 2011
As any serious investor knows, you only need to one good investment idea from a book or magazine to justify the subscription.

Guy Thomas' investigation into the success of twelve expert private investors contains a large number of valuable tips - not investment recommendations but strategy, method and administration.

The best thing about the book is that the author gets quickly to the nub of what makes these people different: from each other and also from the losers. I've learnt much from Free Capital that I intend to build into my own investment strategies going forward.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusually well written for an investment book, 5 May 2011
For an investment book this was an unusual pleasure to read. What makes it a joy to read are the wry observations and aphorisms scattered throughout the book, perfectly capturing ideas or observations which I recognised, and yet had never seen written down so clearly before.

The best way I can illustrate this is to type up half a dozen short quotes (fair use):

(p15) "Investment skill consists not in knowing everything, but in judicious neglect: making wise choices about what to overlook."

(p35) "At this stage he was the archetypal part-time trader: the supposedly mercenary activity of trading was really about entertainment, or perhaps a sense of identity."

(p82) "Authorisation for investment advisers is more like a fishing licence than a driving licence. A fishing licence confirms that you have paid a fee, and will not be fined if you are caught fishing. It says nothing about competence."

(p109) "Investment is like swimming or riding a bicycle: difficult to learn without some practical experience."

(p141) "Learning modern portfolio theory to pick investments is like learning physics to play snooker."

(p181) "One wry definition of a value investor: a person who places a high premium on having the last laugh."

(p228) "To the fundamental analyst, technical analysis can seem a sort of cheat sheet, preventing development of proper understanding - and yet often giving infuriatingly good answers."

Anyone with some knowledge of investment and dreams of giving up the day job would find this an inspiring and instructive read. And for the serious private or professional investor, there is a depth of insight which is unusual in a non-technical book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on investing I've read & will read it again... & again, 15 Jun 2011
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This book is fantastic. It is written very clearly & is easy to understand. It is not a "quick fix - here's how to get rich book", but a detailed & comprehensive series of interviews with 12 successful private investors. It details their lives, investment successes, failures & subsequently how each has developed their own current investing style & strategies. Each interviewee has their own unique character & Guy Thomas presents an objective report on each & how they learned their skills. It is the objectivity & unbiased nature of the book that I really enjoyed. There are no recommendations like "you should do it like this, or that", but simply a scrutiny of all their different techniques which is indirectly & unexpectedly very educational, motivating & inspiring. I will be re-reading this book again & again. I was also very impressed that all of Guy Thomas's royalties from the sale of his book are going to charity.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read - Inspiring, 3 Jun 2011
After pre-ordering this book a long while back I have only just had the chance to actually sit down and read it. In fact i read it 3 times....
A great book, similar in a way to Jack Schwager's "Market Wizards" but with investors you can relate to. Any investor who reads this book (and it is useful whether you are a very small player or a more seasoned professional) will find some character traits in the various 'subjects' that you can relate to. I found it inspiring and insightful and keep picking it up to make notes on various sections for future reference. As Guy says - its not a 'how to' book but offers a lot more as it gives an insight into how each investor approaches his investments whether on value, technical, growth, turnaround or other basis. Guy should be very pleased with this book and the fact that all proceeds go to a worthy cause make it an even better read. 10/10
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed insight into making money, 9 April 2011
By 
Colin Eastaugh (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
A unique stock investment book, traditionally profiles of investors are either written by a jobbing journalist with only a superficial knowledge of finance or by a successful investor with ego issues. Guy Thomas is a successful investor, who based on reading this book, would appear to be able to keep his ego under control. The interviewees are a diverse bunch of individuals. I am confident that any male investor will find at least one interviewee that they can relate to and hopefully the book will encourage female investors to work hard at proving that investing does not need to be only a male activity.

The book will also be of great interest to investment bulletin board readers, three of the most prolific posters on ADVFN and the Motley Fool are profiled in Free Capital.

Fingers crossed that the book is a success and this in turn leads to the publisher encouraging Guy Thomas to write a sequel in say five years time to see whether the interviewees have changed over that time. In addition I would like to see the publishers encourage Guy, having written a book about success, to write about a book about failure. One of the requirements of successful investing is to avoid pitfalls, it would be wonderful to see a book covering such investing disasters about Connaught and ROK and bad investing habits.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of an investment book, 11 Oct 2011
By 
Andrew Howe (Tonbridge, Kent) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Until now I'd not re-read any of my c20 investment books. I'm now starting my third read of Free Capital. Other reviewers have given relatively little coverage to what you might call the "deeper" aspects which make Free Capital noteworthy. Two examples:

1. I was unfamiliar with the concept of holding lots of shares for the purpose of providing liquidity, which is particularly relevant for small caps (all except one of the investors is largely invested in these stocks). There's not much material on how you would in practice "do" the mechanics of small cap investing (there are other books and, again, Free Capital is not a "how to" book) but this is a delicious hint.

2. I had heard of the "Kelly criterion" (Google it and Ed Thorp - it's fascinating) but Free Capital provided the motivation to do some work on this. I can now see how this can in principle play a role in asset allocation. Again more work and thought is required, but it beats a finger in the air or (perhaps) copying others.

Fear not: the more technical aspects are set apart in "panels" (you can come back for them later).

What follows is not really the material you'd normally put in a book review, but I feel compelled to explain Free Capital's impact on me; surely one test of a book's value is whether it makes you change something about your life. The biggest lesson for me from Free Capital is that these successful investors really can explain their approach: what they look for, what would cause them to reject a purchase etc.

The reality is that I was late to the investment party (too busy with the day job) then plunged into the UK stock market. In contrast to the 12 investors, I still do not have coherent buy/sell plans and have not identified any competitive advantage I might have. Free Capital has provided the motivation to put an investment strategy together, which will include a personal (investment) development plan. In my 40s, I do not think it is too late to learn.

I for one suspect that Guy Thomas has much more he could tell us if he so wished; readers might want to Google "diamonds and flower bulbs" and "How many shares should an investor hold?" which will return some fascinating insights into the author's approach to investment from his blog.

Another reviewer noted that all investors were full time and asked what those short of time could do. Warren Buffett is on record as saying index tracking is most suitable for the vast majority of investors. But, to be more precise, what if I have 5 hours free per week? Index tracking, investment trusts or limited active investing? To an extent, I'm still wondering.

Let's end on the positive. This is a fantastic and thought-provoking book. If this is not worth £10 of your money I don't know what is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An investment classic, 16 May 2011
By 
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This is a great book to dip into though you can certainly read it from cover to cover. I found the introductory chapter most useful to start with -- it's an excellent guide to the author's purpose and will help you to find the parts of most interest initially. The author has done extremely well to investigate and extract the thought processes and philosophies of his 12 subjects.

It is apparent from these accounts that there is no Holy Grail of investment methodology. The interviewees are so diverse in temperament and methodology that it becomes evident that there are many ways of being a successful investor/trader and thus it's the person rather than the methodology that is important. These highly successful investors are all clever people, some very highly qualified academically, others not. They are all highly individualistic and able to make their own decisions, sometimes contrarian but always in their own furrow. Some from humble financial and social backgrounds, they mostly appear to have come to terms with themselves and their lifestyles reflect an equilibrium even though some of them have unenviable medical histories.

The more I read this book the more it fascinates me and in that respect it's like the investment classics of Livermore, Schwager's Market Wizards, & Loeb -- every time you read it another little gem of information or idea becomes apparent. The author excels at explaining in non-jargonistic terms so much useful philosophical and financial discussion. Helpfully, he also includes some clear technical explanations for those wanting them.

This book would make an excellent but modestly-priced present for anyone with an interest in trading the financial markets. Thoroughly recommended and a credit to its author who has donated his proceeds to charity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to private investment, 12 Sep 2012
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Bear in mind this is the first investment book I have read and also I have a lot less than a year's ISA allowance invested - I wasn't looking for anything too technical. Easy to read, seems to be a good sample of all types of PI. I think you will need other books if you want anything like training - how to read a balance sheet for example - but it has nugget like tips all the way through. This should be expected because the writer wasn't attempting to teach investment but to look at the investors themselves and the kind of people they are but without any detailed psychological-like analysis.

What I did take away from this is that in fact very few of these investors are man on the street like you and me. The book description does rather draw you into thinking "It could be you". More than half had a background in finance in some way. Perhaps not a bad thing; stop you jumping straight in just because you know what a forward p/e ratio means.

Two other small points that were raised and you might want to know; there are very few books or articles about PIs who fail. Presumably there are more of them, this book only has 12 success stories. And then, of those 12, only 1 had read any books on investment!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 27 May 2011
By 
A. Moger "Ad" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If you've any interest in investment, this is a a fascinating and easy-to-read book. It doesn't set out to be a "how to.." manual, but for anyone who trades, dabbles, or takes an interest, it'll be a good read.
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