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On the Bookshelf

Value-oriented money managers discuss their strategies and philosophies in “The Art of Value Investing: How the World’s Best Investors Beat the Market” (John Wiley & Sons, 2013). Authors John Heins and Whitney Tilson compile snippets of interviews they have conducted with a large number of mutual fund and hedge fund managers to provide insights on how professionals approach value investing.

The authors describe the book as providing answers to questions every money manager should ask before running a portfolio. To their credit, Heins and Tilson cover a lot of ground in approximately 300 pages. They have managers on record speaking about analyzing a company’s financials, assessing its business models, measuring valuation, managing a diversified portfolio and deciding when to sell. The voices are as varied as the answers given. Even where there appears to be consensus, there are answers from managers who use a different approach from the others.

The differences of opinion can be good or bad, depending on what a reader is looking for. This is not a book that provides a clear-cut approach to value investing. Rather, it gives voice to a variety of approaches, with some advice being very specific and other advice being broad in nature.

John Vento gives a comprehensive overview of financial planning in “Financial Independence (Getting to Point X): An Advisor’s Guide to Comprehensive Wealth Management” (John Wiley & Sons, 2013). His discussion covers a variety of topics, including budgeting, taxes, investing, insurance and estate planning.

We have seen several personal finance books and were initially concerned about a lack of anything new in this book. Vento does spend a lot of text explaining the basics in each chapter. What pleasantly surprised us, however, was the attention he gave to more complex topics. For instance, in his chapter about insurance, Vento details what types of losses and reimbursements are tax-deductible.

We also like the additional level of detail provided by the various tables, charts and highlighted text. Among them are pie charts for seven asset allocation models and a table showing how to calculate the amount a family may have to pay toward college costs after financial aid is provided.


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