Written by a leading thinker and visionary whose ideas and principles have been adopted by countless investors.
He begins with primer-like essays on investment strategy, championing mutual funds for their inherent investment value, and then grinding each point home with a bevy of graphs, charts, entertaining anecdotes, and common sense. He repeatedly stresses time as a basic tenet for investing, listing these simple rules: "Time is your friend"; "Impulse is your enemy"; "Stay the course." And then he proceeds to blast fund managers, who have become marketers rather than managers.
The trade-off between the profits that accrue to fund shareholders and the profits that accrue to the fund management companies seems subject to no effective independent watchdog or balance wheel, despite the fact that the shareholders actually own the mutual funds.It's an interesting concept: smart, reasoned investors can all but secure their financial future, but the system itself, run unchecked by fund managers, needs a major overhaul. And considering the amount of reasoned, historically based support he includes, readers will have a hard time finding fault with the sometimes controversial Bogle. Equal parts instructional and crusade, Common Sense on Mutual Funds deserves the attention it's likely to receive. Recommended. --Rob McDonald --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most people these days hold the bulk of their investment assets in pension funds, IRAs or 401Ks usually consisting of mutual funds, and this audience will gain significant insight from Bogle's advice. Bogle also campaigns to save the mutual fund trader from herself, relentlessly presenting the mutual fund as a buy-and-hold investment vehicle.
Those who have read a few other books on investing may find Bogle's single-mindedness and thoroughness a bit tedious. I found myself skimming for content throughout the book and especially after the first 14 chapters, finding the later material more visionary and less relevant to my investing. A good editor could probably reduce the bulk of the text by a half or two-thirds and retain the central ideas.
By the way, you can get much of this material (for example, the chapter on bond funds) from the Vanguard web site under the "Bogle Lectures." All the ideas are there - they're what the company is based on. Save a few bucks - reduce your investing costs - "costs matter" as Bogle will tell you again and again.
The bitter truth is that over the long haul only 10% of mutual funds outperform the conservative S&P 500 index. So why pay some company a front end load fund of 5-7% to under-perform the S&P 500 plus an annual fee of 1.5% when you can buy S&P index shares or Vanguard mutual funds that have no load fees, and have very low annual expenses - often less than 0.5% per annum. You end up giving away a chuck of your money if you do not follow his sound advice.
Bogle of course does not want to stop there. He wants to reign in all those CEO perks and huge bonuses and use the leverage of the mutual fund shareholders. All great stuff,
This is a case where Amazon.com should have a special 6 star category.
Jack in Toronto
Bogle thinks too many mutual fund investors are being scammed by professional managers of funds who reward their companies instead of their investors' portfolios. High fees, outrageous expenses, rapid turnover, unneeded "products", marketing costs -- all are used by countless mutual fund companies to inflate their bottom lines to the detriment of their investors' needs.
Several reviewers here have noted that Bogle repeats several key points throughout the book, especially the importance of keeping costs as low as possible. This is true. But important lessons need to be stressed, especially with so much evidence that the average investor still doesn't understand them. Perhaps Bogle feels it's a lesson that can't be said enough. After all, why would you pay more for less, unless you simply don't understand what is being done to you?
This book was somewhat prescient. Published near the end of the long bull market of the 1980 and 90s, "Common Sense on Mutual Funds" called out -- in its own quiet and understated way -- for reform of the mutual fund industry before it became fashionable to do so. While Bogle's book doesn't have an angry tone, its recommendations are essentially more radical than anything now being considered by New York's attorney general in his drive to reform the industry.