Books



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Investment Book Suggestions:

Click on the books’ titles or covers for more information and prices. Feel free to share titles of books that have helped you, and add the titles to the comments section at the bottom of the page.

 

For Beginners

These are the books I’d recommend for people who have never read an investment book before. But don’t mistake simplicity for something substandard. Following the strategies espoused in these books will, after all taxes and costs, have you beating at least 90% of professional money managers over your investment lifetime. That’s a fact.

 

In this book, I explain some essential financial rules that should be taught in schools… but aren’t…

Millionaire Teacher espouses the same investment philosophy as the books below, but there’s a significant difference:

it explains how investment theory was actually put into practice. Just three weeks after being released, it ranked number 2 on Amazon’s hottest new personal finance books. 

By November 2011, it was the #1 ranked Personal Finance book on Amazon. I think you’ll like it.

Read the reviews by the people who’ve purchased it.

 

Share these Amazon links with your friends:

 


In an easy-to-read conversational voice, financial planner Bill Schultheis proves why he’s considered one of the heroes of the financial service industry.

Promoting a low cost, index fund solution to investing, he guides his readers as if he’s your affable neighbour, explaining the process over coffee.

You can enjoy this book from cover to cover in a single afternoon.

I’ve gifted many copies of this book at my index fund seminars. You’ll like this book.

 


Paul Farrell ably introduces this book as something his wife encouraged him to write.

As a women “whose eyes usually glaze over” when he starts to talk finance, you get the idea, right away, that Dr. Farrell’s book is aimed at a broad audience, peppered with a fun writing style that’s missing in the vast majority of personal finance books.

His message is the same as Bill Schultheis’ but his voice is a tad cheekier.

This could be the first and only investment book you’ll ever have to read.

 


Cheekier still, but every bit as good, is Daniel Solin’s book, The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read.

This immodestly titled book is comprised of only 154 pages, and this leading securities arbitration lawyer guides readers to see that again, index fund investing gives the highest statistical chances of success.

With a spacious format, it’s another book you can read in an afternoon while learning how the industry of actively managed mutual fund investing is rigged against the average investor.

Like The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing and The New Coffeehouse Investor, it’s going to make you smile from time to time, if you don’t chuckle out loud.

 


Perhaps the shortest book of them all, The Elements of Investing was written by investment legends Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis.

As the bestselling authors of A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Malkiel) and Winning the Loser’s Game (Ellis) they’ve teamed together to produce an investment book that’s far simpler to understand than either of their former masterpieces.

From what I’ve learned, giving financial seminars, the average person has difficulty understanding terms and jargon that most financial writers take for granted.

As great as both of these gentlemen’s other books are, this one is far easier for the average reader to understand.

 


I bought this book as a gift, initially, but then I had to buy two.

I simply couldn’t give the original book away and be left without a copy myself.

It’s a fabulous read for new investors.

The author, Allan S. Roth, does his readers a wonderful service.

 


For Intermediate Investment Readers

 These are my favorite intermediate level  investment books.

 

I enjoyed Larry Swedroe’s book, The Only Guide to an Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need and as the title suggests, I think he’s right, although it’s slightly more academic than the previous four books I mentioned.

After reading one of the four books I listed above, if you’re still not convinced, and/or you want more meat, then this could be the book for you.

Written in 2005, it has the qualities of a great book—because it’s timeless. Read this book twenty years from now, and the theory behind it will remain the same: solid, academically rigorous, relevant and accessible to the average reader.

 


Swedroe’s new book, The Quest For Alpha: The Holy Grail of Investing is a fabulously convincing read.

If you’re still not convinced that index funds offer much higher statistical chances of success, compared to the expensive products peddled by most financial advisors, then this book will very likely change your mind.

 

 

 


Written by a man named by Fortune Magazine as one of the four investment giants of the 20th century, Bogle packs a powerful punch with this little 214 page book.

Showing how index funds are superior investment vehicles, he loads the book with evidence and experience drawn from more than 50 years in the investment field.

I’ve gifted more than 40 copies of this little book to my colleagues, but I’ve listed it under “intermediate” as a reader, because it has terms that many of my college educated colleagues couldn’t understand, and it had my dad (a fairly well-read fella) running for the dictionary a number of times.

Bogle is an academic. But he’s brilliant, a clear writer, and he’s definitely fighting for the little guy.

 


Written by the legendary finance writer, William Bernstein, both these books both give an extremely solid investment foundation.

If we were to ask Mr. Bernstein himself, he’d probably suggest that we read The Four Pillars of Investing first, and The Investor’s Manifesto second.

In the first book, he thoroughly discusses how people madly become euphoric when fad-like investments rise in value without solid fundamentals to back them up.

 

 

 


In Bernstein’s second book, The Investor’s Manifesto, he shows how the same emotional madness can sabotage investor’s accounts when the markets drop in value. What’s more, he does it with an ever-improving flair for imagery and humour:

“Your primary training tool is the rebalancing process, which forces you to sell high in the good years and to buy low when there is blood in the streets. In the really bad years, such as 2008-2009, this will mean pouring large amounts into falling equities, when your friends and family are running around like decapitated poultry.”

Both of these books, of course, promote indexed investing as well.

 

 


 Probably best for intermediate investors, this book assumes somes basic financial knowledge. 

But it’s an impressive read by a couple of millionaire senior citizens who are leaving a useful legacy.

 

 

 

 


For Advanced Finance Readers

These are my favorite advanced level  investment books, but unlike some of the books above, they aren’t entertaining for the average investor. And that’s fine. Investing isn’t meant to be fun. The same message is here that you can read about in Millionaire Teacher, but the evidence here is simply awe-inspiring.

 

For the most extensively researched books on indexed investing, nothing really compares with John Bogle’s updated 10th anniversary edition of Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor and…

 

 

 

 


What’s interesting is that David Swensen, Yale University’s endowment fund manager, didn’t intend to write his book, Unconventional Success, about indexed investing.

But the more he researched, the more he realized that the financial service industry exploited individual investors. His book offers a fabulous solution to that problem.

 

 

 

 


For advanced investment readers, The Essays of Warren Buffett is a compilation of essays written by the Oracle of Omaha and arranged by Lawrence Cunningham.

If you want to know how the great Berkshire Hathaway chairman thinks, Cunningham has arranged Buffett’s essays beautifully.

 

 

 

 


And what about the books you’ve read ? Are there any books that have helped you?

Please add your comments below



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99 Responses

  1. Scott Graham says:

    The book that you wrote"Millionair Teacher"
    I feel is a super book, I would like to know what to invest in.
    I'm a 57 year who is currently retired from 3M.
    Thank you for writing trhis book!
    Scott Graham

    • Thanks Scott,

      A great portfolio for you would be simplicity itself. If 3M offers a pension, you coud do this:

      40% Vangaurd total bond index

      30% Vanguard total stock index

      30% Vanguard international stock index

      If you won't have a pension, you could have 50% or so in the bond index, with the remainder split between the U.S. and international stock indexes. My recommendation is exactly the same as what you read in the book.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

      • Joe says:

        Is it safe to keep so much miney allocated to one bind index – especially after you have retired?

        • Absolutely not Joe. You need to ensure that you have a diversified portfolio of stock and bond market indexes. As a retiree, you would have much more money in bond indexes than a young worker would.

  2. Brad says:

    Andrew really the the book Millionaire Teacher. One question how do you feel about target date retirement funds for 401k and Roth IRA plans?

    • Hi Brad,

      I think Vanguard's target retirement funds are superb. Although, I would pay more attention to the allocation of the bonds and stocks than I would the actual target date, when it comes to selecting which one to buy. I mention them in my book, and mention this in a bit more detail there.

  3. Rachael says:

    Hi Andrew

    I read your book over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a 34 year old recently married British expat living in Singapore. What indexes would you recommend I invest in and what split would you suggest for my portfolio between bonds, UK index and an asian/international index?

    Rachael

  4. Barry says:

    Just having a look, surprisingly the Vanguard international stock index has done well over the last 10 yrs when compared to the Vanguard total stock index

    I would have thought the latter would be the better performer, so was interested to see the results on Vanguard

    • Hi Barry,

      Don't look at past results, just current costs. It's the future that you should be far more interested in, not the past. And if your money is diversified, low cost, and gets rebalanced, you'll do very very well. The best indicators of future performance isn't past performance. There's no correlation there. But there is a correlation between low fees and future performance.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  5. Mohamed Ben Rhouma says:

    Your book " millionaire teacher" is super! I understood "finally" why financial adviser prefer the mutual funds.

    Vanguard ! Vanguard ! here isn't in Dubai! I want to invest in bond, stock index. Could you please advise?

    Thank you for writing this book.

    Mohamed Ben Rhouma

  6. Mohamed Ben Rhouma says:

    Your book " millionaire teacher" is super! I understood "finally" why financial adviser prefer the mutual funds.

    Vanguard? here isn't in Dubai! I want to invest in bond, stock index. Could you please advise?

    Thank you for writing this book.

    Mohamed Ben Rhouma

    • Thanks for the kind words about the book Mohamed. To purchase exchange traded funds (cheap ones) you might need to take a flight to Singapore to open an account with DBS Vickers. If you want to literally "own the world" you could have just two ETFs:

      VT (the total world market index)

      ISHG (first world bond market index)

      Check out my scroll down menu up top for "Expat Investing" and you'll see how you could do it.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  7. Raman Minhas says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I read your book a few days ago. It was an unexpected gem of a find while looking for something else. Your message had a big impact on me.

    I thought it would also be useful to a lot of folks within the industry I work, medical technology. So I wrote it up in a blog post:
    http://atpbio.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/millionair

    Thanks again for an excellent book and ongoing insights on your blog.

    Raman Minhas

    • Hi Raman,

      You wrote an amazing review!! I thought it was so well done that I even sent a link to my publisher. I'm really happy that you found the book so useful, and that we're both now spreading the word about low cost investing and how much more beneficial it is.

      Thank you!

      Andrew

  8. Tom says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I got your book for christmas. Unlike Raman, I knew nothing about the world of finance. But your book was very disruptive for me in a different way. I was blissfully ignorant about where my money was invested before. Your book was one of those rare reads that opened a door for me that can never be closed now. I am now fully indexed except for my 10% play money (couldn't help it :).

  9. Ryan says:

    Love your book. Following your recommendations as of the minute I finished reading the book.

    I am looking at buying a residential home in Canada and was wondering if you had any book suggestions for that topic?

    I am Canadian and know about as much of real estate as I did investing before I read your book 😉

    thanks,

    Ryan

  10. Mohamed Ben Rhouma says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Zecco allows overseas activity, and you don’t have to be a US citizen to open an account and through it I can purchase index bond and stock index but with the following expenses:

    -VBMFX : total expenses ratio = 0.22% and 12b-1 Fee =0.03%

    -VTSMX : total expenses ratio = 0.17% and 12b-1 Fee= 0.03%

    -VGTSX : total expenses ratio = 0.22% and 12b-1 Fee= 0.03%

    shall I go with or to ETF which more sheap but the total reture is less…

    Thank you for your super Blog.

    Ben

  11. Candace says:

    Hi Andrew!

    Thank you for supporting and inspiring everyone with a different perspective on money. I would like to ask you for some guidance on my financial path. I am 32 years old and a single mother of 2 children. I have about 32k in a Vanguard IRA, 8k in a Vanguard mutual fund for the kids, 2k in savings bonds. I'm advised to put in $2k a year into my IRA which is a traditional IRA. But I didn't this past year since I opened up my own business last year all cash no debt. Please guide me with any advice for my future. Any comments would be greatly appreciated!!!

    God Bless!!!

  12. Luca says:

    Hi Andrew

    I have just read your book, and finally I can say that thanks to you I am beginning to understand the world of investing and even the jargon that comes with it.

    I will continue reading on investing and maybe even take a course in the coming months to expand my knowledge.

    I am from the island of Malta, and as far as I know there isn't Vanguard services here. With the current job I have I can invest up to 100-200 euro a month, but I still have to find a service like Vanguard or something like it here and avoid the influence and pressure from banks etc that advertise mutual funds.

    I am 22 years old and i think this is best time to start when you re young

    thanks again

    Luca

  13. Bruce says:

    I retired in may 2012 at 61 years old and am living on my RRSP as well as CPP for myself and wife and a small pension my wife has.

    I am needing to withdraw 5% of my RRSP which is currently in activity managed mutual funds in a 60% balanced and 40% income allocation.

    I have read your book "Millionaire Teacher" and would like to implement your suggested strategy. I am also following your Globe and mail article on your test portfolio.

    Can I set up a RIF to withdraw monthly revenue from without having to sell the ETF,s and brokerage costs for monthly income?

    Tks

    Bruce

    Winnipeg, MB Canada

  14. Invest Apprentice says:

    Hi Andrew, happy to know that you are residing in Singapore! I'm a Singaporean, 32 and married with 2 kids.

    May I know if you have any advice on the best way for a Singaporean to do index investing?

    I'm currently vested in STI@ETF, but to gain exposure to international equity index, I'll have to invest through foreign exchange. I had tried investing in Vanguard index funds before, but that'll require me to convert to USD which I hesitate due to the currency exchange risk. I'm also concerned about the estate duty tax incurred on my investments should I pass on. I heard it's around 40% for a foreigner investor.

    I would like to know whether there are any suitable index funds / ETFs (besides STI@ETF for domestic equity exposure) you would recommend for a local Singaporean who is interested in index investing, suitable brokerage, and what would be a suitable asset allocation for a balanced risk profile.

    Thank you very much!

  15. Thanks so much Ryan. I'm really glad my book was helpful! I don't have any real estate book recommendations, unfortunately, but if I write another book, I would really like to add a chapter on this needed area of discussion.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  16. These options look very good to me Ben!

  17. Hi Invest Apprentice,

    I have written about how Singaporeans can invest in the 6th chapter of my book. Also, I have written about it under the heading Expat investing. Here's a link: http://andrewhallam.com/category/expat-investing/

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  18. I believe that you should be able to transfer your assets into a RIF Bruce, without taxable consequences.

    Andrew

  19. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you Candace. If you can maximize your IRA each year with a diversified portfolio of low cost indexes, this would be great. If not, invest as much as you can. Congrats on the business! I'm sure it will take much of your money to keep going. Just remember to add to the IRA, as you have been doing (or more, if possible)

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  20. Hi Luca,

    In Malta, is there a discount brokerage available? My guess is that there is. If you can find it, you should be able to build a portfolio of exchange traded funds, much as I have done.

  21. Philip says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Not sure if you've already read it but another great investment book is "The Fundamental Index" – http://www.amazon.ca/The-Fundamental-Index-Better… by Robert Arnott. I think it's a game changer in the world of Indices.

    I just purchased your book and can't wait to start reading it! It's refreshing to see someone who is not a professional financial "guru" to be very successful in investing. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Philip,

      I look forward to seeing how fundamental indexes pan out. Unfortunately, when patterns emerge, they usually revert back to the mean once discovered, as stocks within fundamental indexes get bid higher and consequently, return less in the future. Human psychology thwarts plenty.

  22. twentyone says:

    hey Andrew,

    i am currently on the book "the little book of common sense investing" but John Bogle. In his book, he does not seem to be pro etf, and instead, he sort of criticise etf saying that it is narrowly diversified for sector etf and that the spider held long term is okay but the cost is also an issue. i went and googled on his views on etf, and there are so many article regarding John's negative view about etf. below are the main pointers that i gathered(correct me if i'm wrong):

    1) dont not buy etf of certain sector, or capitalisation, instead, go broad.

    2) etf encourages investors to trade because of it's buy and sell during the day characteristic (but an article from vanguard shows that vanguard investor does not trade that often, but it's the traders that got into etf)

    3) and of course, the cost is higher

    but i'm in Singapore, there's no index fund right? there's only bond index etf, sti etf..

    • Hi twentyone,

      ETFs are great if you don't get wrapped up in the frenzy of trading them. Bogle correctly notes that the most active equity on the New York Stock Exchange is actually the ETF for the S&P 500 (SPY). Who would have thought? If you have the discipline to buy and hold them, however (as I do) they are very worthwhile indeed. They are cheaper than regular indexes (the expense ratios are lower) but for those who trade them regularly, they become very expensive products indeed.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  23. stephanie says:

    hey im stephanie from London, UK. I am 22 years old..23 in May with an 18 month daughter.. single, living with parents for now so no bills. Im struggling to just get started, i find myself procrastinating in not knowing where to start.

    I love your book and it made me realise its not just luck or fate it is understanding and knowledge. it made me realise that I too can accumulate wealth so thank you so MUCH..ITS ALSO A WELL WRITTEN book that made everything easy to understand and realistic in comparison to others.

    I have informed myself and would like to use Vanguard Index 500 fund.. will this be it? do i need to diversify further and also what other should i look into.. do I jut contact vanguard to start or do i need to go through a brokerage service. do i need to open an investment account what would you suggest i use? What would you advise I invest in??? I would really like to start investing and would appreciate all feedback and guidance. Thank You and God Bless

    • Thank you for the kind words Stephanie,

      I'm thrilled that you're inspired to get started. Vanguard UK is a platform you could use with a broker. In other words, unless you have large sums of money, you will need an advisor to buy those funds. But the good news is that HSBC offers index funds as well and you won't need an advisor to buy them. They're called "tracker funds" in the UK, and the HSBC products are very good!

      Let me know if this link helps: http://andrewhallam.com/2012/05/millionaire-teach

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  24. Glen says:

    I have read many of the books recommended here and I agree with the accompanying comments. One writer that stands out for me that we don’t hear that much about is Richard Ferri (he is one of the authors of the Bogelheads listed above). I read his book “The ETF Book” and I have never been the same DYI investor since. The amount of research he does in his books is really quite astounding. I have never been bored reading any of his books ( and I think I’ve read them all ) in fact I have read the aforementioned “The ETF Book” and “All about Asset Allocation” twice. Extremely well written and researched.

  25. Michael Mazo says:

    Dear Andrew:

    i read your book a little while ago and was impressed and suitably inspired by your simple, but pragmatic approach. My wife and my income is marginal, with absolutely no room for any savings–let alone investments. But, recently, i had the good fortune of freeing up around $10,000 for investments. I would like to do as you advised, but i'm a little confused about whether I should find a financial advisor or just go to a bank and proceed to invest in Index funds through them (RBC).

    i live in Vancouver and wonder if you have any advice of an advisor, or, just which way to go as far as wise investments for my whopping $10,000 invest opportunity!

    thank you for your sage advise and continue the good work.

    Sincerely,

    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Open an account with QTrade. They're based in Vancouver, and they're great.

      I don't know your age or risk tolerance, but you could split the money this way, if you have a moderate tolerance for risk and are between 30 and 40:

      $3000 in VSB (Vanguard Canadian bond index)

      $7000 in VCE (Canadian stock index)

      You could add more money over time, introducing a U.S. and International ETF to the mix. I suggested just these two to start. You'll pay about $25 commission per transaction, but then, you'll have the cheapest Canadian portfolio in the world. Gotta love that!

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  26. stephanie says:

    Hi Andrew, thank you for replying to me back in February. I didnt receive a notification email so did not know you had commented. Ok so thank you for your recommendation of HSBC' tracker funds..I have read your guide to millionaire teacher guiding British investments and you mention to create a diversified portfolio of low cost tracker funds. Im sorry to sound so slow cos I seem to over simplify things and make it harder for myself to understand but does this mean I should have more than one. So for example the HSBC tracker fund you sent to me I should open another one (or maybe a few more) similar to that but with another company/bank????? Also the link you sent to HSBC says 'error occured, no page was found'. Having researched HSBC they do not have the names and types of funds online but I have to call them up and discuss and there. So is the name (having researched) of the HSBC fund called: "HSBC FTSE 100 Index:???? PLEASE please correct me if I am wrong.

    So I just open them put some money in i have some savings and just watch it over the years?

    You are such a God send, the fact that im able to talk to you and reply is beyond me. Do you hold any seminars in the UK?? I wish u were my financial mentor..I hope to hear from you soon! Thank You yet again.

    Getting your book is going to change my life/! Thank You

    • Hi Stephanie,

      You should be able to get all that you need from HSBC. To build a diversified portfolio, you will need a British stock market tracker fund, an international tracker fund and a bond market tracker fund. As mentioned, you can buy each of them from HSBC. As mentioned in my book, a single index (tracker) is not a complete portfolio. But give HSBC a call. Tell them what you would like. And see if you can set up an appointment to purchase three of their tracker funds:

      1. The first giving exposure to the UK stock market

      2. The second, exposure to the international or U.S. stock market

      3. The third being a bond market tracker

      Your goal should be something like this: ensure that the bond allocation represents your age. For example, if you are 30 years old, and you have one thousand pounds to invest, put three hundred pounds in the bond tracker fund. Then split the remaining seven hundred pounds between the other two indexes. Then re-read my book's fifth chapter. The reason, and what to do over time, will become clear.

      Please keep me posted on what the bank says, and make sure you stick to your convictions. They may try selling you a different product, an actively managed unit trust instead. Don't let them. They want to sell what's profitable for THEM but it's your money.

  27. Quincy Wheeler says:

    Mr. Hallam, I am a beginner investor at 34yrs of age. Reading your book inspired me. I have always been interested in investing. However, I come from a background where positive things in life were hard to come by. In other words, I had to learn things the hard way in order to make the right decisions. I will be completely debt free by Sept. Which is when I will start investing. I just wanted to say thank you for writing these simple steps that will change my life financiailly. My bank,USAA, has been trying to get me to invest through them. However, you make is seem that Vanguard is the way to go. As a US Citizen, how should I set up my funds?

    • I'm so thrilled to hear this Quincy. I think you could follow the strategy in my 6th chapter for Americans, pg. 102. The nice thing about passive investing is that you don't need to alter much….just increase your fixed income allocation as you age and remain diversified.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

      • Quincy Wheeler says:

        Thanks Mr. Hallam. Will do. I have just been one to studder step into taking chances. However, the stock market has always intrigued me. Now that I make a decent salary, I think Im ready to play ball.

  28. Travis Funk says:

    Hey I was wondering if you had any suggestions on books about investing in penny stocks, I’m 18 and just finished reading your book and soon will be opening an indexed investment account but would also like to play with some penny stocks! Let me know what you think

    • Hi Travis,

      I don’t think you should invest in penny stocks. Truly greedy people embark on investment methods with far higher odds of long term success. If you want to make money, give penny stocks a miss.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  29. Anu says:

    Just read your book over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Finally understood the importance of annual re-balancing thanks to your book.

  30. Kate says:

    Hi Michael –

    I recently read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it – an informative, yet easy read. I have had RRSPs mutual funds through a financial adviser since my teens and am now in my late 30’s with a spouse and 2 children. I have not been impressed with their growth and now I know why! I am in the process of opening an account with Virtual Brokers to transfer my RRSPs and capitalize on their free ETF trades. I plan to make monthly contributions into my RRSP. Would you be able to recommend some ETFs from this list? And/or comment on the trend toward free ETF trades?

    Kate

  31. David Benton says:

    Andrew, I have just finished reading your book (which I thoroughly enjoyed, and feel it has taken me from novice to quite confident), and am keen to start investing in index funds. However, I live in Vietnam and am unlikely to go to either England or Australia for a while (my two homes). I contacted Vanguard (Australia) and they require you to be in country to open an account, and it seems many online companies (such as TD Direct Investing) will not allow Vietnam residents to open an account. Do you have any suggestions at to how I could get started? (I am aiming for a 30 : 70 split, much like the Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund). Thanks in advance!

  32. Kevin says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Just wondering, is your book available at any brick-and-mortar bookstores in Singapore? MPH, for example? I wouldn’t mind buying it off Amazon and giving you the referral, but i happen to have bookstore coupons, and being a very stingy Singaporean (and a grad student with only a measly monthly stipend for an income), i would prefer to be able to use them. =P

    Kevin.

  33. Joanne says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I love your book and have purchased 2 copies more copies for my nieces. I am eager to put your advice into practice although I am a little nervous about my next step. I am a British expat teacher living in Dubai and just wondered if your advice for British expats living Singapore would apply to me too?

    Thanks,

    Jo

    • It would Joanne. You may want to try opening up a DBS Vickers account, based in Singapore, and wiring your money there. There’s no capital gains to pay, you should be able to do it over the phone/email and then you could wire your money to Singapore. Some reps will say yes to this on the phone, while those seemingly less experienced will tell you it can’t be done. Please keep me posted, and good luck.

      Andrew

  34. Adam Zargar says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I love the book. I live in Dubai and unfortunately have signed myself up with the Royal Skandia managed pension. Been doing it for 3 years and put in 27k and its value is 26k USD. 17 more years left… the surrender value is 8k.

    Should i take that and invest myself or take it down from 817USD to 525USD a month (lowest but get penalties) or just leave it as it is and keep paying for the next 17 years.

    Also I am struggling to get Vanguard Index funds as based in Dubai. I was thinking of using ‘saxo bank’ and getting the vanguard ETFs as they have those. Should I do this and if so what spread would you recommend (am 33 and a half and earn approx 6-8000 USD a month here in Dubai.).

    Many, many thanks for everything you do. Hope it helps people not get into the trap I have

    Regards
    Adam Zargar

  35. Hani says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Bought your book a couple of days ago (last copy at kinokuniya Dubai ) and I love it. Really opened up my eyes.

    I am a 37 years old Canadian expat with no debt living in Dubai for the last 5 years. I manage to amass around 200k usd in saving and am planning to invest it as follows:

    40% US focused vanguard total stock market index fund

    40% vaguard total international stock index

    20% Vanguard total bond market index (Canadian bonds)

    My only problem is that we don’t have access to vanguard here in Dubai and the only way to invest would be through the following brokerage firms:

    http://www.schwab-global.com/public/schwab-gcb-en/what_we_offer/accounts_features/open_an_account.html

    Saxo Bank or TD.

    I am still working in Dubai and plan to leave in 3 to 5 years.
    My HSBC financial advisor also recommended tracker funds but I do not trust him as he is also insisting I invest in the following mutual funds that I feel are too highly priced:

    World selection
    Fund details How much you need:
    Minimum investment (lump sum) 10,000/$ or €/£ equivalent
    Minimum subsequent investment (retail share class) 1,000/$ or €/£ equivalent
    Regular investment plan – minimum investment 250/$ or €/£ equivalent*
    Initial charge 3%
    Annual management charge (retail share class) 1.00-1.30%
    Base currency US Dollar

    Would appreciate your thoughts on above mentioned fund
    Thank you for reading my message.

    • Hi Hani,

      What is the firm you are investing in? I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be an ILAS product platform. If you want to find out, ask your advisor if you can sell everything without penalty. If it’s an ILAS scheme, your advisory firm will penalize you (perhaps $10,000 or more) for selling everything.

      If you open an account with TD International (based in Luxembourg), or a TD Waterhouse non-resident account (based in Toronto) you can invest free of capital gains taxes, and you would pay a fraction of the fees that you are currently paying. And you wouldn’t be penalized for selling.

      I’m currently writing a book on investing for expats, mostly to protect people from ILAS firms. Please let me know if you have one.

      You’ll know when you ask the question about selling everything. If you’re unable to get it all back without penalty, you’re free and clear. If not, you have an ILAS product.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      • Hani says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Many thanks for your quick reply I did not expect one so soon.

        I will try asking the advisor as recommended if I can sell everything without penalty.

        Regarding the investment firm I am using I have still not decided as I’m still using HSBC bank (Dubai).
        Please note that the world selection mentioned in my above Email is offered by the bank itself (HSBC Dubai).

        I will check out TD international or TD waterhouse thanks.

        One more question: HSBC (offshore) also offers what they call tracker funds which are supposed to be the equivalent of index funds. Any thoughts on that….

        Glad to hear that you are writing a book on investing for expats. Really looking forward to buy it….

        Out of curiosity it would be great if you could do a couple of Seminars in Dubai.

        Cheers
        Hani

        • Andrew Hallam Andrew Hallam says:

          Hi Hani,

          I would come to Dubai if you could organize it and spring for a ticket. I speak for free, but require flights and accommodation.

          I couldn’t find access to the HSBC Offshore tracker funds, just their actively managed products charging 1.5%. That’s about 9 times more than I pay.

          I suspect that they may offer the tracker funds if you plan not to be a “do it yourself” investor. In other words, they may want to charge you an extra account management fee to buy the tracker funds.

          As for the actively managed funds you listed, I would stay away and invest in index funds only. Your odds are far better.

          But please keep me posted on what you learn.

          Andrew

          • Hani says:

            Hi Andrew,

            Got in contact with tddirectinvesting.com yesterday.

            Very articulate and friendly representatives.
            Account is really easy to setup.
            Just fill form with passport copy and proof of residency.
            Set up standing order for wire transfer and that’s pretty much it.

            Also tried to apply what I learned in your book and based on my conversation with the TD rep. he advised the following:

            35 % in Vanguard S&P 500 value index ETF (VOOV)
            35% in Vanguard total world stock index ETF (VT) or Vanguard Intl stock index ETF (VXUS)
            30% in Vanguard total bond market ETF (BND) I think it’s mid term

            I was also informed that for a small fee rebalancing the portfolio according to my instruction can also be done

            I was also advised to use their free 20 days demo on their trading platform.

            Being new to investing using this trading platform was a little bit overwhelming as I am not familar with all the technical terms (buy ticket etc…). I think that with time and experience it will be more easy.

            Can you recommend any book to easily go thru the different trading platforms. I would assume that all of them must have some common procedures to follow.

            Cheers
            Hani

  36. Robert says:

    Hello there,

    I read Millionaire Teacher and found it a most useful and interesting
    book on investing. I am very new to investing.

    I would like to know if Andrew could recommend a book or articles on
    investing for people over 70. My mother and father are thinking about
    selling their home and perhaps renting while investing their money.
    They are finding it increasing difficult to maintain a decent standard
    of living with the pensions and just a modest stake in bonds.

    I would very much appreciate recommendations. Thank you kindly in
    advance.

    Yours truly,

    Robert

    • Hi Robert,

      I certainly understand what a challenge that can be. When reaching for high yield, we often have to take high risks, which isn’t something we want to be doing as we age. I haven’t seen a book for retirees, although there must be a market because my publisher has asked me to write one. Your parents may want to consider a combination between a fixed annuity, some stock indexes and some short term bond market indexes. Or, depending on their nationality, Vanguard (if American) has some high income collections of indexes that your parents could check out.

      • Robert says:

        Thanks, Andrew. Much appreciated. Are these fixed income assets? I hear dividends might also be an option since they are already taxed when they’re paid out? Is that correct?

        You should write a book geared toward seniors.. That’s a growing market! I think your writing style would appeal to many lay “mature” investors

        Good luck..

        p.s. My wife and I are renting. We have $100,000 in the bank and we intend to rent a while longer (1 to 3 years) b/c we feel the housing market is over-heated in the GTA. What could we do with that cash other than keep it in a high interest account (1%! I know, lousy…)

        Thanks again!!

  37. Lisa says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I just read your book in a few hours – I loved it!

    I am a 26 year old American who works for a company that has a 4% 401(K) match. The company’s 401(K) plan is the T. Rowe Price Retirement 2050 Fund. I also have a Roth IRA that I max out. My question is this: Should I first attempt to max out my 401(K) through my company, then max out my Roth IRA, THEN invest in a mixture of index funds (25% in an index fund for bonds, 37.5% in the total American index fund, and 37.5% in the total international index fund)? I was thinking it could be better to just do 4% in the 401(K) (so I get the company match) and then invest the rest myself using that stock/bond allocation.

    Thanks,

    Lisa

  38. Meron says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Great book! I have one question though. I’m 21 years old and new to investing. Should I invest through an IRA account or just a normal account (non-ira) or should I open both and contribute money to each, allocating both of them the way you stated in your book?

  39. Summy says:

    Dear Andrew,

    All i can think right now is.. Thank YOu! :)
    It feels so great reading about insight of ILAS.

    So much enlightened i should say..

    is your book available in hongkong?

    Any advice what to invest in hk?

    Im expat living here in hongkong.

    Your response is much appreciated.

    Cheers!

  40. Jay says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I love the fact you give such straight up answers. I’m just starting my investing journey and trying to educate myself as much as possible but finding the mountain of info to decipher a little overwhelming. (I’ll be picking up your book as soon as I’m finished this email!!).

    Can you offer any pointers for me? I’m 45, debt free, live in Vancouver, BC. Currently have $24K in my work RRSP (Sunlife Financial, $500/mon) and approx $8K ready to start investing. With my debt erased my budget will now allow approx another $500-$800/mon to invest. What should I be doing with this money?

    I know I should have a TFSA but not sure what to buy in it. As well should I be putting that much into my work RRSP per month (I get a dollar match up to $300/mon, should that extra $200 be going somewhere else?). Your feedback will be highly, highly appreciated. Thanks, Jay

  41. Alex says:

    Hi Andrew! I am a 26 year old teacher from Vancouver (fun times!). I have read every word of your book and have gone over many of your articles in the Globe and Mail. I’d like to thank you for the excellent education you’re providing your students and the rest of us. I finally got everything up and running (TD was friendly but I experienced several of the documented issues like “what e-series funds?”) but your tips kept me on course.

    I hope to one day send you a postcard similar to the one you sent to Warren Buffet. While I imagine you don’t own 400 million shares of Coca Cola I am no less impressed with what you have accomplished and your willingness to help others!

    Thanks again,

    Alex

    p.s if I was to send a postcard would I do that to the school or your publisher or put it in a bottle and throw it in the ocean?

    • Thanks Alex, this was a nice email to receive. And I would love to get a postcard. I’ll be in Victoria, B.C. for a few weeks at the end of August/early September. Here’s my parent’s address: 7256 East Saanich Rd, Saanichton, B.C., V8M1Y4

      Cheers!

      Andrew

  42. CanadianInvestor says:

    Another excellent advanced book is Jacques Lussier’s Successful Investing is a Process, reviewed here – http://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2014/05/09/book-review-successful-investing-is-a-process/. Call it the post Couch Potato cap-weight index investing book.

  43. DaveM says:

    I’m not sure what happened to my original post and your reply, but it’s disappeared! It was just over Christmas I wrote a story here about getting physically fit via triathlon after years of neglect, making the parallel to my financial health via the lessons in Millionaire Teacher. Your reply included a “triathlete’s pick” of Vanguard Canada EFT’s. I immediately got to work applying for Virtual Brokers accounts to handle my assets, and now that the VB accounts have been fully activated, I was just referring back to the post to make the transfer/EFT purchases all happen, only find the posts gone! Can you recall what you recommended? I didn’t write it down at the time.

    Thanks
    Dave

  44. AlexM says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I wanted to send a copy of Millionaire Teacher to my farther. (He wastes way too much time caring about shares/currencies). He, unfortunately, speaks only Russian. I tried to google the book in Russian but hasn’t found anything.

    Do you plan on having the book translated soon? That would be absolutely great.

    P.S. Love the book – listen to it while walking to my Uni.

  45. Dave says:

    Hello Andrew.

    Was wondering if you had any thoughts on Saxo’s new for 2015 custodial fee of .12% per annun per ETF, stock etc.? Seems quite expensive.

    Regards,

    Dave.

    • Hi Dave,

      It’s cheap, by foreign brokerage standards. And compared to what groups selling offshore pensions charge, it’s practically invisible. That said, it is rather irritating. Fortunately, as Saxo introduced their custodial fee, TD Direct International eliminated (or drastically reduced) theirs. TD Direct International offers a much better deal.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

  46. Dave says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Appreciate the insight. I’m a Canadian residng in Dubai. Anything I should be concerned with if I choose to go with TD Direct in Luxembourg? I’m also 45 years old and don’t mind being slightly aggressive with an investment and am leaning towards a Fundamental indexing portfolio.

    Regards,

    Dave.

  47. Dave says:

    Terrific Andrew.

    Thanks again.

    Regards,

    Dave.

  48. Brenden Torrell says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m just starting out with Low Cost Index funds and torn between TD E series or Vanguard and which portfolio to choose. I like your idea of being in a bit of everything (Can, US & Inter) plus bonds but don’t really see that with Vanguard but TD costs are 1.78% vs. .005-.008% with Vanguard.
    Could you please give me a bit of advice as which way to go. (Long term growth)

    Thanks,

    Brenden

    • Hi Brendan,

      If you are investing with TD’s e-Series funds, you can deposit small sums of money without paying commissions. If you don’t have much to invest, and you would like something easy, this would be a great way to go. You are incorrect, however, about the costs. They cost roughly 0.35% per year. With Vanguard’s ETFs, you are also off on the costs. They would cost you roughly 0.12% for a portfolio.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

  49. Brenden Torrell says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for you quick reply. I made a mistake about my costs for the TD E Series. Right now my money is in a TD Balanced Comfort Portfolio with a 1.75% MER. I would like to have a bit more risk and look in to the TD E Series and thinking of having something along the lines of
    30% Canadian Bonds
    30% Canadian Equities
    20% US Equities
    20% International Equities

    What would you recommend are the best funds to do this with the TD E Series.

    Thanks in advance,

    Brenden

  50. Dave says:

    Hi Andrew.

    Hope all is well. Just wondeing what your thoughts are regarding having to splt monthly contributions between investing, and saving for a downpayment for a home? Would it make more sense to contribute everything in to one investment, and withdraw from it when the time comes to purchase the home, or have two separate investments?

    Thanks and appreciate your help.

    Regards,

    Dave.

    • Hi Dave,

      Definitely keep it separate. There’s a rule of thumb suggesting that you shouldn’t invest money in the stock market that you might be needing within a five year period. Stocks can quickly crash. If you find the right home, shortly after they do, you will be disappointed to have your downpayment proceeds cut by 20% or more.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      • Dave says:

        Thanks again Andrew.

        What would you suggest as a short term investment vehicle, which I could keep for 2-3yrs, and be able to contribute monthly to it?

        Also, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a shift, in some cases, towards purchasing ETF’s commission free, and that you seem to recommend them in your latest book over traditional index funds. Just wondering what your latest thoughts were?

        Regards,

        Dave.

  51. Dave says:

    Hi Andrew.

    I’ve finally managed to open my account with TD in Luxembourg. Now the fun part begins. I’m interested in Horizon’s HXS, and HXT because of their tax saving benefits, however I’m wondering if they are broad enough representations of the US and Canadian markets? Vanguards VDU would give me international exposure, and I could round out my portfolio with Vanguard’s VSB, as you recommend, or Horizon’s HBB. However, the index for HBB is composed of short, intermediate, and long term bonds, so I’m wondering how and where something like HBB would fit in?

    Thanks very much.

    Regards,

    Dave.

  52. Alex Krembs says:

    Hi Andrew – we have studied your book and love it. It is so helpful cutting through all the sales speak and clutter out there. So one question. We are working on setting up Saxo account in HK for Asian investors. We have selected -VWRL- Vangard FTSE All-World UCITS ETF and SAAA (ishares Global AAA-AA Gov Bond UCITS ETF) on London Stock Exchange. The question I have – these ETF’s are show their inception in 2012. How can we be sure that the benchmark they are using has a long enough history to know that it is similar to the Index? Where can we find the historical data on those indexes which are the same as these ETF’s?

  53. Ben says:

    Hi Andrew, have read both your books which are awesome! are you looking to write a book how we can teach kids about investing principals. The one thing i felt lacking especially since you are in singapore is the smaller allocation of content specifically for singapore investors but then again singapore is a relatively small audience :p

    A more specific question. I was recommended the following portfolio from an advisor (fee based)

    1) IEEM (ishare emerging market from LSE) 33%
    2) IWRD (ishare international from LSE) 33%
    3) united SGD (short term bond) 33% – i’m currently 35.

    basically the IEEM would replace the ES3 you recommend in your book and provide exposure to china and other asian markets. this would more be for diversification rather than trying to capture growth in EM.

    was wondering if you had come across this before and if you had any insights if this was a logical approach

    • Hi Ben,

      Emerging markets comprise just 8% of global capitalization. As I mentioned in my book, anyone building a portfolio exceeding 8% emerging markets is taking something called “global capitalization risk.” Few investors would want to take such high global cap risk. This model portfolio you have been shown has a full 33% in emerging markets. So, instead of getting more diversification, you have far less.

      Here’s an article I wrote recently, which suggests most investors should go in the opposite direction:

      Why I Don’t Invest In Emerging Market Stocks

      My morning routine is much like yours…with one subtle difference. I get out of bed. Shower. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. And brush my teeth with bottled water. Yeah, bottled water.

      I don’t bother with tap water because I’m currently traveling in Vietnam. Unpleasant parasites live in emerging market water. Last month I was in China. Next month I’ll be in Thailand. Diarrhea causing devils swim in all three zones.

      Parasites (from a foreign investor’s perspective) also exist in emerging market stocks. It’s one of the reasons I don’t own an emerging market index. Risk and return are supposed to be inversely proportional. When you take higher risks, you can expect better returns. For example, stocks are riskier than bonds. But over time, stocks beat bonds. So investors get rewarded for taking extra risk. The same rule is supposed to apply to emerging market stocks. They’re riskier than developed market equities. So they should earn better returns. The problem is, they don’t.

      Strategy Lab readers, I can hear what you’re thinking. Hallam is a hypocrite. Guilty as charged. When I built my Strategy Lab model portfolio, I did add a dash of an emerging market index. Doing so gave exposure to the entire global market.

      Let me explain, however, why I don’t personally drink the emerging market Kool-Aid. I realize their GDP growth runs circles around those of developed markets. But shadier legal frameworks and poor corporate governance cause their stock markets to lag. According to a 2014 Blackrock study, they capture only 73 per cent of their countries’ GDP growth. For example, if GDP grew by 8 per cent per year, stock market growth would be roughly 5.8 per cent. Such markets promise the world. But they rarely deliver.

      Chinese stocks make up a large part of the emerging market index. But they perform like a drunken rock climber. They climb. They fall. They climb again. They fall. Few people realize how poorly they perform.

      The Chinese stock market opened to foreigners in 1993. The country’s GDP has soared. But its stocks haven’t. If $10,000 USD were invested in Chinese stocks, it would have grown to only $15,343 after 22 years. That’s an average return of just 2 per cent per year.

      In contrast, over the same 22-year period, $10,000 in U.S. stocks would have grown to $71,570. That’s an average of 9.35 per cent per year. In Canadian stocks, $10,000 (measured in CDN dollars) would have grown to $73,639 for a 9.5 per cent annual return.

      Chinese stock exposure, however, isn’t the only reason I avoid emerging market funds. In David Swensen’s book, Pioneering Portfolio Management, the university endowment fund manager says, “A particularly prevalent problem in many Asian countries involves family-controlled companies satisfying family desires at the expense of external minority shareholder wishes.” He says this is one of the reasons emerging market stocks haven’t kept pace with developed markets.

      Numbers from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation reveal that $100,000 invested in a broad, random selection of emerging market stocks in 1985 (the earliest date from which we have emerging market data) would have grown to 1.08 million by 2006. If it were invested in U.S. stocks, it would have grown to more than $1.3 million. And if invested in developed world stock markets (excluding the United States), it would have grown to $1.16 million.
      During the past five years, to February 10th, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (XEM) has gained a total of 33.4 per cent (Measured in Canadian dollars). In contrast, Canada’s iShares Core S&P/TSX Composite Index (XIC) is up 47.87 per cent. The U.S. market, as measured by the iShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF (XSP) is up 105.35 per cent. Developed world markets (excluding the U.S.) can be measured by the iShares MSCI EAFE Index ETF (XIN). It’s up 55.76 per cent over the past five years.

      Stocks from China and other emerging markets won’t always drag their feet. Sometimes they’ll soar. But corruption and deception cause parasitic leaks. So I keep my money in a Canadian stock index, a U.S. stock index, a developed world international index and a Canadian bond index.

      That’s something I can drink to.

    • Hi Ben,

      I have one other thing for you to consider. This advisor suggested a 33% bond allocation. But for Singaporeans, I suggest far less. In fact, you may not need bonds at all if you have a CPF. It operates much like a bond. You could simply build a global stock portfolio, split between a world index and a Singapore stock index. As far as stocks are concerned, you would have maximum diversification with this approach.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

  54. Dean Banks says:

    HI Andrew
    I have read your book Millionaire Teacher and really enjoyed it particularly as I spent 6 years recently in Singapore working at an International school. I am now in Australia and looking at your suggested Vanguard index funds, specifically the Life Strategy Growth fund. This works as it has the spread of risk across local, international and bond indexes. The fee on this however at 0.9% seems to be fairly high particularly with an investment of around $50K (Which is what I was planning on investing). I have been stung with high fees before on managed fund investments. It seems however that the fees from Vanguard on this account are almost at the same 1% fee pa which I am charged from many managed funds here in Australia. Wondering if you have any thoughts around these type of ongoing fees in this investment, or any other suggestions for index fund investors in Ozzie.

    Cheers
    Dean Banks

  55. Cath says:

    Thanks for two incredible books.
    I am a South African and my partner is Irish, we looking to open a Saxo account in Singapore. We currently teach in the Middle East. Do you think its necessary to open an offshore account as well?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Cath,

      You mentioned the words “as well.” Does this mean you have set up an account already, somewhere else? If you are American, you shouldn’t open an offshore account (you won’t be able to, with a discount brokerage anyway). If you aren’t American, you should open an offshore discount brokerage account. But be sure that you follow the suggestions in my expat book. Avoid offshore pension firms, no matter what.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

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