The best way to learn about a subject, it is often said, is to write a book about it. My books all reflect my longstanding interest in studying the ideas and methods of the most successful professional investors of my time – an interest that was first sparked more than twenty years ago when I completed a thesis on the methods of Warren Buffett for a Master’s degree at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Since then I have written three books about investment and edited or co-published several others. The titles are listed here, with brief descriptions and the covers link directly the Amazon website, where they can be purchased.
Investment Trusts Handbook
Investment Trusts Handbook, a 350-page annual compilation of data and insights about the investment trust sector, was published in November 2017. The second was published a year later and the third (2020) edition will be published in early December 2019. Investment trusts are often described as the City’s best kept secret – and certainly in my experience they are the favoured choice of those who know most about investing in funds. As the editor of this new publication, I have been fortunate to be able to recruit some of the best known names in the business to contribute features about their experience and insights. These include Peter Spiller, Charles Cade, John Baron, John Newlands, Robin Angus, Max King, Sandy Cross and many more. The latest edition includes a seven-part review of the year just gone, 15 in-depth interviews and articles about important themes affecting the sector, plus a detailed directory of all the most important trusts, together with a section on how to analyse closed end funds. This year the Editor’s Notes, in which I comment about developments in the investment trust world, will be included in the free e-book version, available from the Handbook’s dedicated website (ithb.co.uk) – all in all, an ideal gift for any DIY investor.
My first book, Money Makers, is a study of the lives, methods and philosophy of eight professional investors who have reached the summit of their profession. The original edition (from 1998) is now out of print, but a revised and updated version has recently been published by Harriman House as one of their modern classics. Those profiled include Anthony Bolton, Nils Taube, Mark Mobius, Ian Rushbrook, Colin McLean, Jim Slater and John Carrington. The book describes their very different personalities and approaches to stock market investment and draws some general conclusion that I believe remain just as valid today as they did when the book first appeared. Where appropriate, I have updated the book to include comments about the present opportunities and threats facing investors. A second volume of Money Makers profiles,featuring eight more professional investors with impressive long term track records, is in preparation.
Investing with Anthony Bolton
My second book, Investing with Anthony Bolton, was originally published in 2004, with a revised second edition in 2006. This is the first and only full-length study of the methods and performance of a man who by common consent has been the most successful investment manager of modern times in the UK. £1,000 invested in Anthony Bolton’s Fidelity Special Situations fund at its launch in 1979 was worth more than £140,000 by the time he relinquished control of the fund in December 2007. During that period the fund outperformed its benchmark index by a remarkable 6% per annum, compounded over nearly three decades. The book tells the story of the fund from its modest early beginnings, analyses how it came to be so successful and draws out the lessons for investors generally. I was able to spend a lot of time discussing investment with my subject and co-author; an enlightening experience that continues to bear fruit in my own investing career.
Templeton’s Way With Money
My most recent book is Templeton’s Way With Money, co-authored with Dr Sandy Nairn, the CEO of Edinburgh Partners, who worked closely with Sir John Templeton for many years, latterly as Director of Global Equity Research for the Franklin-Templeton group. The book, published by John Wiley in March 2012, is the first wholly independent study of the investment philosophy and methods of one of the twentieth century’s greatest investors, written from a purely professional perspective. As well as interviews with some of his closest associates, we draw on previously unpublished letters to clients of Templeton’s investment advisory firm to explain his ideas and uncover, with the help of new proprietary research, why the stockpicking methods he developed were able to produce such exceptional returns over such a long period. What comes through very clearly is how successfully John Templeton identified valuation methods that are now commonplace, but were pioneering and years ahead of his time when he was working.
In addition to writing my own books, I have also helped to commission and bring to market a number of books written by other professional investors. Some examples are listed below. They include Fundology, by John Chatfeild Roberts, the first book that I know of in the UK that seeks to explain how a professional fund of fund investor goes about selecting funds to invest in; Effective Investing, an entertaining and instructive memoir/how to guide to the principles of successful investment by Mark Dampier, Head of Research at Footsie company Hargreaves Lansdown; and Engines That Move Markets, an authoritative historical account of past booms and busts in the technology sector, from the railways to the Internet. My newsletter The Investment Reader includes regular reviews of useful investment books.