A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment
By David F. Swensen
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9780743228381, 416pp.)
Publication Date: August 2, 2005
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The bestselling author of Pioneering Portfolio Management, the definitive template for institutional fund management, returns with a book that shows individual investors how to manage their financial assets.
In Unconventional Success, investment legend David F. Swensen offers incontrovertible evidence that the for-profit mutual-fund industry consistently fails the average investor. From excessive management fees to the frequent "churning" of portfolios, the relentless pursuit of profits by mutual-fund management companies harms individual clients. Perhaps most destructive of all are the hidden schemes that limit investor choice and reduce returns, including "pay-to-play" product-placement fees, stale-price trading scams, soft-dollar kickbacks, and 12b-1 distribution charges.
Even if investors manage to emerge unscathed from an encounter with the profit-seeking mutual-fund industry, individuals face the likelihood of self-inflicted pain. The common practice of selling losers and buying winners (and doing both too often) damages portfolio returns and increases tax liabilities, delivering a one-two punch to investor aspirations.
In short: Nearly insurmountable hurdles confront ordinary investors.
Swensen's solution? A contrarian investment alternative that promotes well-diversified, equity-oriented, "market-mimicking" portfolios that reward investors who exhibit the courage to stay the course. Swensen suggests implementing his nonconformist proposal with investor-friendly, not-for-profit investment companies such as Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. By avoiding actively managed funds and employing client-oriented mutual-fund managers, investors create the preconditions for investment success.
Bottom line? Unconventional Success provides the guidance and financial know-how for improving the personal investor's financial future.
David F. Swensen is the chief investment officer of Yale University and the bestselling author of Pioneering Portfolio Management. He serves on the boards of TIAA, The Brookings Institution, Carnegie Institution, and Hopkins School. At Yale, where he produced an unparalleled two-decade investment record of 16.1 percent-per-annum returns, he teaches economics classes at Yale College and finance classes at Yale¹s School of Management. Mr. Swensen lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
"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