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Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment Hardcover – 17 Oct 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Printing edition (17 Oct. 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: 255,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Mutual fund managers and marketers are not going to like David Swensen's thoughtful and intelligently opinionated analysis of their 'colossal failure' resulting from the fund industry's 'systemic exploitation of investors.' Coming from the mind and heart of one of America's most successful and integrity-laden money managers, this is a book that will change the way you think about mutual funds. It's high time for you to follow the elegantly simple advice he presents in this wonderful book."
-- John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO, The Vanguard Group

"Swensen is the best. Always a pioneer, his new book presents an approach to investing that is both brilliant and practical."
-- Barton Biggs, former Chief Global Strategist, Morgan Stanley

"A legendary institutional investor reveals the conflicts of interest that induce most financial services companies to provide inadequate products for the individual investor. Swensen's wise solution: Low cost, tax efficient, market-mimicking funds available either through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or from not-for-profit mutual fund companies. Unconventional Success does for the individual investor what Swensen's Pioneering Portfolio Management did for the institutional investor."
-- Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street

"David Swensen is one of today's best endowment managers, if not the best. Unconventional Success is a perfect summary of what is wrong with a very important industry. This book should lead the reader to better investment decisions."
-- Michael F. Price, Managing Partner, MFP Investors

"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 $7 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.


Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the title suggests, this book is an academic thesis on the failure of mutual funds. It is not a guide to personal investment for the amateur. It is written in a style of english I last saw twenty five years ago at university and is not an easy read. My final criticism relates to me being a UK Investor. Much of the criticism relates to the taxation status of mutual funds in the US which does not apply in the UK. Also charges are dealt with differently in the UK so this aspect is largely irrelevant as well. Having said all that he makes a good case for sticking to index funds and rebalancing, which is common sense good advice for the amateur.
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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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