"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." — Benjamin Franklin

For young investors diving into the world of personal finance, the amount of novel information to digest can be overwhelming or outright discouraging. But here’s the catch: if you don’t learn the basics, the complexities are unlikely to serve you well.

Maybe it’s time to leave the forums behind for awhile and pick up books that are appreciated by beginners and experts alike. Here are three essential books for young investors, recommended by our Portfolio Managers.

Stocks for the Long Run by Jeremy Siegel

Volatility is not something to be afraid of; it's something to be prepared for. Stocks for the Long Run, recommended by Will Beacham, discusses how to approach the market to succeed over the long run. For those who can structure their portfolio properly and weather the inevitable ups and downs, they’re more likely to benefit from what investing has to offer. Rich in lessons, let’s address two key takeaways for young investors.

Prices Don’t Dictate Underlying Value

Markets are platforms for buying and selling securities, but they’re not the gold standard for accurate valuations. With investors buying and selling as they swing from optimism to pessimism, public stocks are prone to price fluctuations based on sentiment or other reasons, which Siegel calls the noisy market hypothesis.

Intrinsic value is often measured by the value the company itself brings, be that in the form of profit margins, innovation, cash flows, revenue, and more. It’s an investor's job to look under the hood and weigh these factors against the pricing of the stock; most of the time, it's either undervalued or overvalued. From there, you can make an informed decision.

ETFs Can Help Diversify Portfolios

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) track indices and a variety of other benchmarks, such as gold, for example. Like a stock, shares in an ETF are traded on public markets.

The S&P 500, for example, follows the performance of the top 500 U.S. publicly traded companies and their stock performance. An ETF that hopes to track it will instantly give you exposure to all of them. In doing so, your portfolio should be well diversified (as a starting point) and able to withstand a pullback; if one company falters, there are 499 others.

Winning on Wall Street by Martin Zweig

Zweig’s text, recommended by Wayne Wiggins, is a favourite among intermediate- to advanced-level investors. While it may not be the most beginner-friendly, it is a great way to challenge yourself and take your understanding to the next level. Once you’ve reached a comfortable level, Winning on Wall Street can teach you anything from market analysis, trading risk management, cycles, and even Fed monetary policy. There is something for everyone between these pages.

Discipline Delivers Results

Without the proper time to cover all of Zweig’s insights, there is one major point that we can cover with confidence: being a disciplined investor is far more likely to deliver the results you want. Establishing rules for yourself and sticking to them, following your strategy and not getting caught up in the moment, realizing that time in the market can bring success and timing the market can lead to losses—these are all important aspects of growing as an investor.

Professionals understand the need for discipline and practice it daily, rarely deviating from their long-term plans. Beginner investors would be wise to follow suit. A hot tip can certainly lead to returns, but ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

For a Dragon, Chilton’s advice isn’t very hotheaded at all. The Wealthy Barber, recommended by Craig Ellis, is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous two books. It’s a novel that follows three people in their 20s and 30s who meet Roy, an oddly wealthy barber.

They come to realize that his advice is level-headed, pragmatic, accessible, and relevant to everyday life. Through Roy, Chilton shares his insights on how to realize the financial future you want. To list a few ideas that can help you along the way:

Pay Yourself First

whenever you can afford to put away (give or take) 10% of your paycheque. A hundred pennies make a dollar, and while we’re rarely short by one cent when making a purchase, sometimes a dollar will make all the difference.

Speculation & Risk

Stock picking can lead to speculation instead of solid financial planning, and by focusing on low-cost mutual funds (Chilton’s book was released in 1989; ETFs have become more popular with investors lately) you aren’t as likely to focus so much on short-term volatility.

Proper Reference Groups

Your spending and savings practices are influenced by the people you surround yourself with. Be conscious of how this can impact your financial situation; trying to keep up with people who can afford things beyond your own means is not a sustainable plan.

Why These Books Matter

Siegel’s text is a great way to establish a foundation for personal finance and understanding how to structure a portfolio, which can help readers graduate to Zweig’s more advanced advice that can broaden their knowledge and help them better grasp complex concepts. Chilton’s, while investment-related, is a more pragmatic, light read that can lead you to become more conscious of your financial standing in your day-to-day life.

Each of the three provides the reader with a different perspective and helps them become more financially literate to succeed in the modern world.

The best part? These are texts we still pick up from time to time; it’s never too early to start learning, and once you begin, it never really ends. Personal growth means investing in yourself first, and after that, everything can start to fall into place.

Of course, our Family Wealth Advisors are all experts as well, and whatever you can’t find in a book, you can find with us.

Find an advisor

© Bellwether Investment Management Inc. 2023. This communication is intended for residents of the provinces in which we are registered and is not meant to be a solicitation to any persons not resident in those provinces. Any opinions expressed in this article are just that, and are not guarantees of any future performance or returns. Some of the information contained in this article has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable but due to the fact that it is provided by a third party, it cannot be guaranteed to be accurate or complete. Bellwether Investment Management Inc., Bellwether Estate and Insurance Services Inc. and Bellwether Family Wealth cannot provide tax advice and therefore we recommend that you consult your tax advisor for further assistance with your tax planning and the preparation of your tax return. The report is prepared for general informational purposes only and the securities mentioned in this report should not be construed as a recommendation for any specific securities.

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