Book Review: The WSJ Complete Money and Investing Guidebook

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If you had asked me to discuss bonds on the first day of my first job, I would have probably started talking about ionic or covalent bonds that I had learnt in  my high school chemistry class. I knew close to nothing about finance and financial securities. Derivatives only reminded me of derivation and integration. Options were of no significance and I was clueless about trade and quote data. Now that I look back, I wish someone had given me The WSJ Complete Money and Investing Guidebook (referred to as CM&IG from henceforth) as the first thing to read.

(Side note: I was given a book to read by my boss and it was q for mortals, so I could learn q.)

This ~200 page book is written by Dave Kansas and covers every asset class and major investment vehicles. The book never goes in-depth into any of the topics which I really like. It also assumes that you have barely any knowledge of the financial markets and investing.

CM&IG has a chapter dedicated to each of these topics:

  1. stocks – stock market, stock exchanges and fundamental investing
  2. main street – how a common person can and should invest
  3. bonds – what is debt? Different types of bonds and how they are traded
  4. wall street – what are broker dealers? Different roles that investment banks play.
  5. economics & money – money supply and the fed
  6. mutual funds – what they are and how they trade differently. How do their fees work?
  7. retirement investing – 401k and what you need to know to properly invest in your 401k
  8. private money – hedge funds and how they operate
  9. options, futures and nontraditional investments – derivatives and their significance in today’s trading
  10. real-estate – commonly overlooked vehicle of investment

While, over the years, I have learnt most of what was covered in the book, I still didn’t know much about retirement investing and mutual funds. Other topics that I did know such as stocks had handy side notes with historical explanations such as how NYSE came into existence which provided a helpful context.

I would highly encourage you to read this book if you are just starting up a career in a financial institution. Even if you are not working in a financial institution, CM&IG is a great guide to investing and everyone should know all possible ways they can invest their hard earned money.

If you are a manager who hires a lot of grads (straight out of college), I would recommend that you give this book to your grads to read. It’s light reading and will definitely help them understand the financial context.

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