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PrefacePraise Quotes for iMoney
"The authors cover the ETF waterfront. Whether you are a young investor just starting out or a seasoned stock veteran looking for new investment opportunities, this book is a valuable resource."
Sam Stovall, Chief Investment Strategist, Standard & Poor's Equity Research
"Finally! Lydon and Wasik objectively analyze exchange-traded funds for the average person. We particularly liked iMoney's comparisons with more familiar mutual funds, the clear discussions about risks, and the varying viewpoints from some of the industry's smartest minds."
Alan Lavine and Gail Liberman, syndicated columnists for Marketwatch.com and authors of Quick Steps to Financial Stability
PrefaceETFs for Everyone
Time and research have demonstrated that individual investors like you want to be empoweredand to get there, you are seeking new information, new products, and more powerful tools to aid in your quest. You want control over your portfolio, and you want to know what's actually in it. Thanks to great advances in technology and the increasing globalization of the world economy, today it's easier than ever for you to take investments into your own hands.
Maybe you already know about exchange traded funds (ETFs), but you'd like to know more. Or you know a lot about them, but you haven't quite figured out how to incorporate them into your portfolio. With hundreds of ETFs dotting the financial landscape, becoming ever more specialized and covering some creatively constructed indexes, trying to figure out how they work and how to use them to your best advantage can be a daunting task.
We've taken the time to speak with and e-mail individual investors just like you. We've actively solicited your comments and input on our blog, ETFTrends.com, every step of the way. We asked: How did you discover ETFs? What have your experiences been so far? And how do you use them to your advantage? Your answers helped shape the direction of this book. We also sought expert advice and opinions about ETFswhere they've been and where they're going. We've done extensive research, in an attempt to make this book the one-stop-shop for ETF information. And we hope it will be light and entertaining as well.
ETFs came into existence in the early 1990s, but they didn't really take off until a series of scandals rocked the mutual fund industry. Today they're a formidable challenger to the mutual fund throne. To understand ETFs fully is to know where they came from and how theyand the underlying indexes they trackare created. This is why we've broken it down for you and given you a brief history before we dive in and discuss the nuts and bolts of the industry. We also have special chapters devoted to both buy-and-hold and trading strategies.
It's now more important than ever to ensure that you have a handle on your retirement savings. With lavish pension plans quickly becoming extinct, people can no longer just assume that the government will carry them through. How dire is the situation? During World War II, there were 42 workers paying into Social Security for each person receiving benefits. By 2030, projections are that only two working people will be contributing for each person receiving benefitsand most baby boomers will be retired by then. Ouch. But all is not lost if you firmly resolve to look out for yourself and your money.
Our goal in writing this book is to give you confidence to make wise, educated, and informed choices about the investments you make when it comes to ETFs. We want you to have a solid grasp of how ETFs work. You will be able to put together a portfolio that works best for you, and you'll have the tools to manage your portfolio effectively. Ultimately, we want you to be a successful investor.
A Multipurpose Tool
ETFs are the Swiss Army knives of investments. They can do myriad things for millions, yet provide a single tool that's extremely specialized. Over 20 years and in 5 books on investing, I've yearned for such a tool. Now that ETFs have entered the mainstream, it's finally possible for everyone to start using them to boost their returns and lower their investment costs.
I've long been troubled by high expenses and lack of transparency in annuities, brokerage accounts, mutual funds, and retirement plans. Do you know how much brokers, middlemen, and fund managers are gouging you for investing your money? What about your 401(k) or pension fund? If you don't know, it's probably too much.
I've seen instances of investors being fleeced for more than 3 percent per year in some accounts. I know that doesn't sound like much, but considering that an ETF offers the same range of investment products and much more diversification and transparency for as little as .07 percent per year, it should make you mad. It makes me mad every time I hear from one of my ripped-off readers.
Enter ETFs, which you can look into with fishbowl transparency, pay rock-bottom fees for, and track on stock exchanges every hour of the day. ETFs that invest in stock indexes offer you the added feature of lowering your tax bill. Because they hold a constant basket of stocks, they almost never generate capital gains taxes. In this sense, they are far more efficient than actively traded mutual funds. And because ETFs are mostly a static pool of securities, you don't have to suffer from managers making bad decisionswhich they make consistentlyin timing the market.
Why employ a manager or broker to guess on a single hot stock, sector, industry, or country? You don't have to because ETFs enable you to buy entire markets. Of course, even though they are a worthwhile tool to build wealth, they are far from perfect; you need to know how to use them. That way, you'll be able to take charge of your investments and reach all of your financial goals. You'll also achieve what I call a "New Prosperity"that is, the point at which your investments serve you silently so that you're free to live the life you want.
The core of the iMoney philosophy is that you put informationthe i in iMoneyto work to create knowledge. We'll help you avoid powerful yet consistent pitfalls in investing, to use the current information available at ETFTrends.com and other resources, and other investment research to convert your newfound knowledge into wisdom that you'll be able to use the rest of your life. We've taken the best ideas from investment savants such as Jack Bogle, Warren Buffett, Burton Malkiel, and others to help you craft flexible, customized portfolios that work for you over time. Along the way, we've sampled the wisdom of Modern Portfolio Theory, behavioral finance, and Nobel Prizewinning economists to make the learning curve less steep.
Better yet, by employing our iMoney strategies, you won't be able to blame someone else for taking advantage of you. As the old maxim goes, "Only a bad carpenter blames his tools." Read, enjoy, and prosper.
John F. Wasik
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