Reading List

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Step Certificate for Financial Services – Trusts and Estates Planning

WARNING – Don’t try this at home.

STEP Certificate for Financial Services – Trusts and Estate Planning. What a catchy title! Nobody lives forever and as time marches on more and more clients are looking at ways to pass their life savings to their children in a tax efficient and controlled manner. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners is the professional body both in the UK and internationally. It’s important I keep up to date and can demonstrate this by exam passes. I’m enrolled for the 9th November – here goes.

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Pensions Update – RO8

The new pension freedoms legislation is now fully in force with changes to the State Pension arriving next April. The first formal textbook on the changes has been announced and so I have enrolled in one of the first examinations to test my knowledge. I already have most other exam qualifications so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.

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The Trouble with Europe: Why the EU isn’t Working – How it Can be Reformed – What Could Take its Place by Roger Bootle

“Roger Bootle argues that the European Union is now at a crossroads. Its original objectives, the logic of existing relationships and monetary union, are pushing it towards full political union – some sort of United States of Europe, at least of the Eurozone. In other words, more Europe; deeper integration. But the EU is no longer working well in today’s world – let alone tomorrow’s. The EU needs fundamental reform.”

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Security Analysis: Principles and Technique by Benjamin Graham, David Dodd, Warren Buffett, Seth A. Klarman

“Security Analysis is one of the most influential financial books ever written. Selling more than one million copies through five editions, it has provided generations of investors with the timeless value investing philosophy and techniques of Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd. As relevant today as when they first appeared nearly 75 years ago, the teachings of Benjamin Graham, “the father of value investing,” have withstood the test of time across a wide diversity of market conditions, countries, and asset classes. This new sixth edition, based on the classic 1940 version, is enhanced with 200 additional pages of commentary from some of today’s leading Wall Street money managers. These masters of value investing explain why the principles and techniques of Graham and Dodd are still highly relevant even in today’s vastly different markets.”

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The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

“Dr Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life so you can: – Recognise how your mind is working – Understand and manage your emotions and thoughts – Manage yourself and become the person you would like to be. ‘The Chimp Mind Management Model’ is based on scientific facts and principles, which have been simplified into a workable model for easy use. It aims to help you develop yourself and give you the skills, for example, to remove anxiety, have confidence and choose your emotions.”

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What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

“Malcolm Gladwell brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker. Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer” who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and “hindsight bias” and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate.

Good writing, Gladwell says in his preface, does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell a most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.”

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Sane New World: Taming the Mind by Ruby Wax

“Ruby Wax – comedian, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, here is the manual to saner living.”

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The Behaviour Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards

“Why do we lose money? It’s easy to blame the economy or the financial markets-but the real trouble lies in the decisions we make. As a financial planner, Carl Richards grew frustrated watching people he cared about make the same mistakes over and over. They were letting emotion get in the way of smart financial decisions. He named this phenomenon – the distance between what we should do and what we actually do – “the behavior gap”. Using simple drawings to explain the gap, he found that once people understood it, they started doing much better. His book will teach you how to rethink all kinds of situations where your perfectly natural instincts (for safety or success) can cost you money and peace of mind.”

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The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything by Robert H. Frank

“Have you ever wondered why there is a light in your fridge but not in your freezer? Or why 24-hour shops bother having locks on their doors? Or why soft drink cans are cylindrical, but milk cartons are square? The answer is simple: economics. For years, economist Robert Frank has been encouraging his students to ask questions about the conundrums and strange occurrences they encounter in everyday life and to try to explain them using economics. Now in this bestselling book, he shares the most intriguing – and bizarre – questions and the economic principles that answer them to reveal why many of the most puzzling parts of everyday life actually make perfect (economic) sense.”

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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

“An art expert sees a ten-million-dollar sculpture and instantly spots it’s a fake. A marriage analyst knows within minutes whether a couple will stay together. A fire-fighter suddenly senses he has to get out of a blazing building. A speed dater clicks with the right person…This book is all about those moments when we ‘know’ something without knowing why. Here Malcolm Gladwell explores the phenomenon of ‘blink’, showing how a snap judgement can be far more effective than a cautious decision. By trusting your instincts, he reveals, you’ll never think about thinking in the same way again.”

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The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

“Who makes most money from the demand for cappuccinos early in the morning at Waterloo Station? Why is it impossible to get a foot on the property ladder? How does the Mafia make money from laundries when street gangs pushing drugs don’t? Who really benefits from immigration? How can China, in just fifty years, go from the world’s worst famine to one of the greatest economic revolutions of all time, lifting a million people out of poverty a month? Looking at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways, The Undercover Economist is a fresh explanation of the fundamental principles of the modern economy. Leaving behind textbook jargon and equations, Tim Harford will reveal the games of signals and negotiations, contests of strength and battles of wit that drive not only the economy at large but the everyday choices we make.”

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Affluenza by Oliver James

“There is currently an epidemic of ‘affluenza’ throughout the world – an obsessive, envious, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses – that has resulted in huge increases in depression and anxiety among millions. Over a nine-month period, author Oliver James travelled around the world to try and find out why. He discovered how, despite very different cultures and levels of wealth, affluenza is spreading. Cities he visited include Sydney, Singapore, Moscow, Copenhagen, New York and Shanghai, and in each place he interviewed several groups of people in the hope of finding out not only why this is happening, but also how one can increase the strength of one’s emotional immune system.”

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Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done – Today! by Brian Tracy

“There just isn’t enough time for everything on our ‘To Do’ list – and there never will be. Successful people don’t try to do everything. They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done. There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Using ‘eat that frog’ as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life – Eat That Frog! shows you how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize your day. You’ll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done.”

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Smarter Investing: Simpler Decisions for Better Results by Tim Hale

“Simple yet effective advice for anyone who wants their money to work harder than they do. Most investment books offer a bewildering array of complex strategies for how best to invest your money. But often the chances of success are remote and the rules are impossible to follow in practice. Smarter Investing introduces you to a simple and powerful set of rules for successful investing, helping you to build an investment portfolio that suits your needs, stays the course when markets get rough and quietly gets on with the job of generating better results.”

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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

“Why do underdogs succeed so much more than we expect? How do the weak outsmart the strong? In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a journey through the hidden dynamics that shape the balance of power between the small and the mighty. From the conflicts in Northern Ireland through the tactics of civil rights leaders and the problem of privilege, Gladwell demonstrates how we misunderstand the true meaning of advantage and disadvantage. When does a traumatic childhood work in someone’s favour? How can a disability leave someone better off? And do you really want your child to go to the best school he or she can get into? David and Goliath draws on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science, psychology and on Malcolm Gladwell’s ability to make the connections others miss.”

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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“In the introduction of the book, Taleb describes it as follows: “Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.””

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The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life by George Kinder

“In this book, renowned Buddhist teacher George Kinder, a Harvard-trained certified financial planner, demonstrates how to achieve “money maturity”-a full understanding of the spiritual and psychological issues surrounding our money lives.

Drawing on ancient Buddhist wisdom and his years of financial practice, Kinder has created a program that guides us through the Seven Stages of a journey-one designed to help us uncover the roots of our attitudes about money, and attain true peace, freedom, and security in our financial lives.”

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Where Are the Customers’ Yachts?: Or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street by Fred Schwed Jr.

“The title refers to a story about a visitor to New York who admired the yachts of the bankers and brokers. Naively, he asked where all the customers′ yachts were? Of course, none of the customers could afford yachts, even though they dutifully followed the advice of their bankers and brokers. Full of wise contrarian advice and offering a true look at the world of investing, in which brokers get rich while their customers go broke, this book continues to open the eyes of investors to the reality of Wall Street.”

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7 Commandments of Stock Investing by Gene Marcial

“Marcial has distilled 35 years of experience into seven powerful, counterintuitive “commandments”-rules that are simple and practical enough for every investor to profit from.”

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Buy and Hold Is Dead (Again): The Case for Active Portfolio Management in Dangerous Markets by Kenneth R Solow

“The current academic and financial planning definitions of “risk” are changing at light speed, but the notion of what constitutes “risky” investment strategy for informed investors is still stuck in the dark ages. Wealth management expert Kenneth Solow takes a fresh look at the investment industry’s reliance on Buy-and-Hold investing, exposing the flaws and potential dangers of this investment approach in secular bear markets.”

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Common Sense on Mutual Funds by John C. Bogle

“Bogle returns to take another critical look at the mutual fund industry and help investors navigate their way through the staggering array of investment alternatives that are available to them.

He examines the fundamentals of mutual fund investing in today’s turbulent market environment and offers advice in building an investment portfolio.”

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Don’t Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, Mutual Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes by Alan S. Blinder

“The collection of essays based on speeches delivered to professional groups and college students in recent years is organized around eight themes: Illusion versus reality in investing, Indexing to market returns, Failures of capitalism, The flawed structure of the mutual fund industry, The spirit of entrepreneurship, What is enough in business and in life, Advice to America′s future leaders, and The unforgettable characters who have shaped Blinder’s career.”

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The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor by Burton G. Malkiel & Charles D. Ellis

“Recently investors have faced difficult economic times along with unprecedented market volatility. It’s not surprising that many investors simply abandoned the stock market. It seemed to be too risky a place for retirement savings, and the situation was too unnerving for most to handle. Moreover, some professionals started to announce the death of “buy and hold” and “diversification” strategies. Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis understand how you could get thoroughly confused by today’s markets and the often-conflicting advice that comes with it. That’s why they’ve returned with an Updated Edition of The Elements of Investing . While staying true to the original edition this book also contains fresh insights found in an additional chapter on rebalancing, which focuses on important issues such as fine-tuning your bond diversification strategy to reflect the realities of today’s markets.”

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No Monkey Business: What Investors Need to Know and Why by Stuart Fowler

“Millions of people have accumulated investments on a scale that changes their needs for professional financial services. A shameful number have directly experienced abuse of trust in their dealings with the industry. Many more are discovering that the relationships and products they thought were safe and simple are actually highly complex and conceal risks they were never aware of. Its time to take personal responsibility. No Monkey Business is a kick in the pants for the industry and a wake-up call for individual investors. It shows you how to place money in the context of setting individual life goals – making investment personally relevant. It also counters tricks within the industry using a few essential principles, some helpful devices and a ‘code of safe practice, that will transform the way individuals think about investment and the way they select and manage their relationships with the industry.”

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The Number: What Do You Need for the Rest of Your Life, and What Will It Cost? by Lee Eisenberg

“The Number represents the amount of money and resources people will need to enjoy the active life they desire, especially post-career. Backed by imaginative reporting and insights, Eisenberg urges people to assume control and responsibility for their standard of living, and take greater aim on their long-term aspirations.

People are highly private and closed-mouthed when it comes to discussing their Numbers, or lack thereof, for fear they might either reveal too much or display ineptitude.

In The Number, Eisenberg describes this secret anxiety as the “Last Taboo,” a conundrum snared in confusing financial lingo. He sorts through the fancy jargon and translates the Number into commonsense advice that resonates just as easily with the aging gods and goddesses of corporate boardrooms as it does with ordinary people who are beginning to realize that retirement is now just a couple of decades away.”

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The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

“Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change, and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”

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Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

“While the title implies that this book deals with how to get rich, the author explains that the philosophy taught in the book can be used to help people succeed in all lines of work and to do or be almost anything they want.

The text of Think and Grow Rich is founded on Hill’s earlier work The Law of Success, the result of more than twenty years of research based on Hill’s close association with a large number of individuals who achieved great wealth during their lifetimes.

Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed 16 “laws” of success meant to be applied by people to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.”

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Essential Managers: Understanding Accounts by Stephen Brookson

“Learn how to understand financial terms and documents and read and interpret company accounts. Understanding Accounts not only explains the functions of the profit and loss account the balance sheet and the cash flow statement and forecast but also shows how they are constructed and how they fit together to reveal a complete picture of an organization’s performance.”

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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy – or something altogether more unpredictable?

This book is all about luck: more precisely, how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the markets – we hear an entrepreneur has ‘vision’ or a trader is ‘talented’, but all too often their performance is down to chance rather than skill. It is only because we fail to understand probability that we continue to believe events are non-random, finding reasons where none exist.”

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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is a literary/philosophical book by the epistemologist Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The book focuses on the extreme impact of certain kinds of rare and unpredictable events (outliers) and humans’ tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively. This theory has since become known as the black swan theory.
The book also covers subjects relating to knowledge, aesthetics, and ways of life, and uses elements of fiction in making its points.”

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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

“How can your name affect how well you do in life? What do estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan have in common? Why do drug dealers live with their mothers? The answer: Freakonomics. It’s at the heart of everything we do and the things that affect us daily: from sex to crime, parenting to politics, fat to cheating, fear to traffic jams. And we can use it to get to the heart of what’s really happening under the surface of everyday life. This cult bestseller will show you how, by unravelling your life’s secret codes, you can discover a totally new way of seeing the world.”

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SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

“The long awaited sequel to the international bestselling phenomenon, Freakonomics. Steven Levitt, the original rogue economist, and Stephen Dubner have been working hard, uncovering the hidden side of even more controversial subjects, from charity to terrorism and prostitution. And with their inimitable style and wit, they will take us on another even more gripping journey of discovery.”

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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

“Outliers: The Story of Success overturns conventional wisdom about genius to show us what makes an ordinary person an extreme overachiever. Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary? In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and far more fascinating, than we could ever have imagined.”

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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

“The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea is quite simple. It is that many of the problems we face – from crime to teenage delinquency to traffic jams – behave like epidemics. They aren’t linear phenomena in the sense that they steadily and predictably change according to the level of effort brought to bear against them. They are capable of sudden and dramatic changes in direction. Years of well-intentioned intervention may have no impact at all, yet the right intervention – at just the right time – can start a cascade of change. Many of the social ills that face us today, in other words, are as inherently volatile as the epidemics that periodically sweep through the human population: little things can cause them to ‘tip’ at any time and if we want to understand how to confront and solve them we have to understand what those ‘Tipping Points’ are. In this revolutionary new study, Malcolm Gladwell explores the ramifications of this. Not simply for politicians and policy-makers, his method provides a new way of viewing everyday experience and enables us to develop strategies for everything from raising a child to running a company.”