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Rob Carrick's Guide to What's Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today [Paperback]

Rob Carrick
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 29 2009
From the author of How to Pay Less and Keep More for Yourself, the essential Canadian investment guide.

This is the kind of investment advice that Canadians crave, at a time when they need it most: super-savvy, easy to use, and written in a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style that's often outrageously outspoken.

Rob Carrick is a highly respected Globe and Mail columnist and expert on personal finance and consumer banking, Rob Carrick's Guide to What's Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today is the only all-Canadian practical guide to protecting yourself and prospering in a challenging economy.

Systematically arranged with clear and logical headings and handy lists of information, this is a book that can be read cover to cover with enjoyment and to great personal benefit, and used also as a reference for answers to specific concerns.

The time is right for Rob Carrick's Guide to What's Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today.

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About the Author

ROB CARRICK is one of Canada's most trusted and widely read financial experts, with two decades of experience as a business and economics reporter and commentator. He worked on both Bay Street and Parliament Hill before becoming the personal finance columnist for The Globe and Mail ten years ago and is the author of three previous books, including How to Pay Less and Keep More for Yourself. Carrick lives in Ottawa with his wife and family.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Rule one of being a rookie investor is that you will make mistakes. Rule Two is that some of your mistakes will cost you money. Rule Three is to either get good advice or educate yourself so that you minimize the damage associated with Rules One and Two. To help you in this regard, let’s look at some matters of importance to both new and experienced investors.
The investment industry is forever casting itself in its marketing efforts as a wise and friendly helper that just wants to make you wealthy. Actually, banks, brokerages, fund companies and other financial firms want to make themselves rich, first and foremost. With this end in mind, financial companies spew out all kinds of self-serving chatter designed to make you receptive to the kinds of products and services they sell. Here are some of the most common— well, let’s politely call them exaggerations:
1. We are looking out for the best interests of investors.
In any serious profession, there is an ethic of putting the client first. And then there’s the business of providing financial advice. While there are many highly ethical people in the financial sector, I feel comfortable saying that the prime directive for many advisers and investment firms is to sell products to generate fees and commissions, not to do right by clients.
Financial companies aren’t out to foist their products on you and head for the hills. They want to have a nice relationship with you, based on the concept of them providing a good product that benefits you financially. But, again, the main objective for many is to sell and let everything else take care of itself (or not).
The problem for investors is that they see financial advisers as being on the same level as other professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants, where there are demanding requirements to entry, strict ethical codes of conduct and organizations that vigorously enforce standards of behaviour. The financial advisory profession is moving in that direction and some advisers are already there. Generally, though, it’s prudent to assume until proven otherwise that the person discussing your financial situation with you is primarily interested in making money by selling you products.
2. You need advice to invest properly.
For many people, this is fact. They need advice because they lack the knowledge or time required to make sound investing decisions for themselves. If this is you, be sure to read Chapter Six, where we look at ways to find an adviser and manage your relationship with one. Don’t buy the financial industry’s nonsense about investing being hazardous to untrained civilians, however. In fact, there’s no reason you can’t be a successful do-ityourself investor if you care to learn the basics before you start out. I can tell you from my experience in talking to Globe and Mail readers that there are people of all ages and backgrounds who are investing shrewdly and effectively on their own. Most seem to really enjoy it, by the way.
A second point about the financial industry’s insistence that you need advice: there’s a lot of self-interest involved here. Simply put, advisers are the sales force through which investments end up in the RRSPs, RESPs, tax-free savings accounts and regular investment accounts of everyday people. Ideally, advisers do in fact provide advice in areas such as building a sound retirement fund, minimizing taxes, avoiding debt and estate planning. But many of them— too many, unfortunately— are mainly interested in generating revenue through commissions and fees that come from selling products. For these advisers, advice is a hollow term that puts a gloss on their function as sellers of product.
Note that being a self-directed investor doesn’t mean you have to work in a vacuum. There are plenty of sources of help and ideas— books (you’re holding one right now), websites, blogs, magazines, newsletters, television and radio programming. You’ll find more on this in Chapter Seven.
3. We know what we’re doing.
Need I bother to elaborate on this point after the financial market implosion that began in 2008? Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old Wall Street legend, went bankrupt. Merrill Lynch, an investment dealer with roots going back to 1914 and a perennially high ranking on the Fortune 500, became so damaged that it had to be bought by Bank of America. Innumerable hedge funds failed. Widely owned mutual funds lost 40 or 50 per cent of their value. The investing world loves to project a macho aura of extreme competence, but the truth is that a significant number of people either don’t know what they’re doing or are borderline competent at best.
I would not like you to get the idea here that all, or even most, investment people are dangerous to your financial health. Rather, I hope you’ll get over any preconceptions you may have that professional investing people are automatically reliable experts who are qualified for, and deserving of, the job of managing your money for you. Two words of advice: always verify. Ask for references when seeking an investment adviser (Chapter Six has lots more on this theme); check the track record of a mutual fund manager; demand copious documentation when considering investment products that offer something new or make claims that seem to defy the normal rules of investing.
We need to be clear about something when assessing investing professionals. They do make honest mistakes; they are not perfect. Neither are you or I, so we have no right to complain. All we have a right to ask is that the people managing our money are smart and experienced enough to keep mistakes to a reasonable level, both in number and scope.
4. Performance, not fees, is what matters with mutual funds.
People in the investment industry who are mainly concerned with selling products often harp on the idea that fees are immaterial and that bottom-line returns are all that matter. In a simplistic way, this makes sense. If you’re making higher returns than most other funds, then why quibble about a fee that’s higher than normal?
Here’s why. Over the long term, low fees are one of the key contributors to above-average performance. The cost of owning a mutual fund is deducted from its gross returns (reported returns are always net of fees). So the lower the fee, the more there is left over for a fund’s clients. When you consider that most funds tend to deliver average returns over the long term, fees can be a key differentiator in terms of ultimate returns for investors. Low fees do not guarantee good returns, but they are a foundation.
I should point out here that it’s not just me saying so. The people at the independent mutual fund research firm Morningstar Canada use fees as a key criterion in assembling their list of funds that qualify as analyst favourites. “For anyone who regularly reads our fund analyst reports, we may sound like a bit of a broken record on the fee issue,” the firm says on its website at “But the bottom line is, the fees are the one component of a mutual fund’s makeup that you can be certain will detract from performance, and many funds simply charge too much.” Well put.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book ! Jan. 21 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have long been a fan of Carrick's Globe & Mail column. This book continues & expands upon many topics. It is written in a candid, non-jargon style without pages of charts & other filler. All the advice is succinct & well thought out. The author is not afraid to praise or criticize various investment types & companies. I enjoy his no nonsense approach to helping readers make an informed decision on how to invest their savings. You owe it to yourself to get this book. It is an excellent guide for both beginners & experienced investors who are looking for guidance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Sept. 22 2010
By IronM
I think everyone in Canada should read this book. At this point in time the majority of Canadians are responsible for not just selecting investments for our RRSPs but we're responsible for our Pensions as well. This book will help you make some intelligent decisions in your investments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CARRICK is on your side!!!!!!!!!!! Sept. 4 2011
By Colster
I am a fan of CARRICK.

He writes for the regular Joe who wants to get ready for retirement.
Very easy to understand, and I use the book as a reference weekly.
I have told so many people about this book.
He is like the Investment version of the Canadian Tax payers Federation, keeping an eye on
abuse in the investment community. By either poor performing Funds or just ridiculously high fees.
I highly recommend this book. You will not get a better bang for your buck anywhere, period!!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, sound advice throughout Jan. 18 2011
This is a book that merits, and repays, careful and attentive reading cover to cover. Experienced and knowledgeable investors can skip introductory paragraphs and move straight to the details.

One caution: the principles of sound investing remain constant but any specific stock market advice inevitably becomes out-of-date, so check for the current position when considering specific placements of your money!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lifesaver! July 5 2012
By lawgirl
A fantastic book for investing newbies. I was never able to truly piece together all financial products out there before this book. Rob goes through lots of financial products in a very clear way, but also wrote the book so the reader can read chapters on their own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very easy and helpful read Feb. 22 2011
By Joe2011
I found this book to be most interesting and helpful to my investment decisions and education. It is written in the author's typical unbiased manner, who always says things as they are. Very easy to understand by all, including the investments novice. I have strongly recommended to friends of mine who are looking for good ideas and tips to improve their investment strategies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read Dec 19 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just received the book 2 days ago and I really enjoy the no non-sense, no holds barred view of Rob Carricks view of Canadian investing. Not quite finished yet but I can already recommend this as a read. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read! April 4 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Carrick brings his points across very well and adds a touch of humour. I think it suits a beginner investor who still believes investment firms and banks act in the interest of their clients.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very ,very basic info
I purchased this in the hope of learning more about Canadian investments and techniques.Unfortunately ,for me at least, it was too basic. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Gary Myers
4.0 out of 5 stars Rob Carrick`s Average-Guy Perspective Is a Refreshing Contrast to the...
Rob Carrick is a prolific writer, of books as well as journalism, about personal finances, real estate, etc. His style and manner of conveying information are marvels of clarity. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2011 by Gerald Parker
1.0 out of 5 stars Blind leading the blind
Carrick is without a doubt one of the least informed 'experts' in financial advice, yet is legitimized by the fact that the Globe and Mail hasn't had anyone else to write for them... Read more
Published on April 3 2011 by Adern
5.0 out of 5 stars No Nonsense Investment Information for Canadians
Rob Carrick delivers timely, honest and insightful information as regards the current Canadian investment environment. I highly recommend this book.
Published on Feb. 25 2010 by Daniel Scheuneman
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent INDEPENDENT Advice!
I have read Rob Carrick's investment articles in the Globe & Mail for a long time now and this book is a concise summary of his best advice. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2010 by John Woolsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Calls it like it is
Enjoyed the book. Excellent advice on managing your investments. Up front of whose good and whose not. A good and must read for DIY investors
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by Chris Carruthers
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