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Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment

Overview

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...

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Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743228381
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2005
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 176,393
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 1.30 (h) x 9.40 (d)

Meet the Author

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 Yale's School of Management. Mr. Swensen lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

1 Sources of return 9
Pt. 1 Asset allocation
2 Core asset classes 35
3 Portfolio construction 81
4 Non-core asset classes 92
Pt. 2 Market timing
5 Chasing performance 153
6 Rebalancing 183
Pt. 3 Security selection
7 The performance deficit of mutual funds 208
8 Obvious sources of mutual-fund failure 220
9 Hidden causes of poor mutual-fund performance 270
10 Winning the active-management game 295
11 The exchange-traded fund alternative 313
12 Failure of for-profit mutual funds 341
App. 1 Measuring investment gains and losses 367
App. 2 The Arnott, Berkin, and Ye study of mutual-fund returns 369
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2008

    Personal Investment Guidance

    A terrific book for the lay investor, Swensen's Unconventional Success is a blueprint for the lay investor. In it, he explains the various aspects of the stock market, historical returns, risks, etc. He then teaches you (in your own life) how to mitigate your risks and earn what Benjamin Graham termed an "acceptable return". By being well diversified, avoiding risky assets, setting realisitc expectations and investing with a view for the long-term; Swensen teaches us that we can all achieve financial stability with a little help.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Investment advice from a pro

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2006

    down to earth, truthful and impartial

    Nice to see a book on this topic not selling a 'get rich quick' scheme. Great job at 'unmasking' what goes on in wall street and the way small investors are being overcharged (and sometimes flat-out robbed) by many firms. Swensen gives great advice on how to invest in order to maximize your expected returns. He offers (what after reading the book seems obvious) great tips on what type of investements to consider an how to organize a portfolio based on personal characteristics and goals. I think the book gets into a lot of unecessary/borring detail at points but it's a great read overall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2005

    Required reading for anyone long-term investing

    Very informative book providing an overall investment strategy for the long term as well as explainations of the different options for achieving a balanced portfolio. It was particularly helpful to understand the ways that financial service firms get compensated and the bearing that has on long term returns. Don't read this book if you are chasing quick returns, only if you are investing for the long term.

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