Here at The Gazelle, we work hard to bring you interesting, informative content that you can enjoy and engage with. This week’s Graze is brought to you by Rhoshenda Ellis and it includes her picks for the best reading to understand finance and investing.

The Weekly Graze: Understanding Finance & Economics

Sep 18, 2016

Investing isn’t all about math and charts. Actually, some of the best investors like Benjamin Graham and Howard Marks rarely include any of these complex strategies when deciding whether to invest or not.
“Read Ben Graham and Phil Fisher, read annual reports, but don’t do equations with Greek letters in them,” Warren Buffett once said. This statement is not to discredit those who do the math, but rather to remind investors that the math should be complimentary and not a substitute.
One thing that every successful investor should do is read. Read everything from newspapers to newsletters to books to annual reports. An investor must stay in the know about market events around the world so that they can make informed decision at all times. However, before being able to apply the knowledge, one must learn. So, here is a list of books that every investor must read if they want to have profitable portfolios.
Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham; David Dodd (1934) (2004)
Every investor knows that this book is the bible of investing and that Benjamin Graham is its Godfather. This book teaches investors the importance of value investing as opposed to more modern investing strategies that include more calculations and technical analysis. The book is divided into eight parts, and each part addresses important issues in investing, from bond analysis to financial statement analysis to investor psychology. This book was actually used to develop the Chartered Financial Analyst Program curriculum. A thick book but definitely a must-read.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (1949) (2006)
Think of this book as the follow up to Security Analysis. It focuses on the Graham philosophy of value investing, which protects the investor from making substantial error and teaches the investor how to develop long-term strategies. The most recent edition of the book includes an insightful preface by Warren Buffett and commentary by financial journalist Jason Zweig. Zweig adds his perspective on Graham’s argument in the commentary and uses examples from today’s market to help the reader understand Graham’s point.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (1958) (2003)
This book comes highly recommended from top investors like Warren Buffett and James Michaels. In the book, Fisher stresses the idea of long-term investing, much like Graham does. However, he goes further to say that an investor should hold a stock even if it is overvalued if he thinks that the stock has not reached its peak price. The other main takeaway from the book was a comprehensive list of questions that one should answer about a company before buying that company’s stock. Questions range from whether or not the company has growth potential to the company’s relations with its employees. Fisher believes that it is important to understand the whole picture before buying into the company.
This book introduces the reader to the world of a modern day investor. Howard Marks is a very famous and successful investor who manages a 283 billion AED fund. Marks opens with one of his most valuable lessons in a chapter called Second Level Thinking. Having a good understanding of this chapter already puts your mindset way above your peers. This book is not a self-help book or a guide to investing, it is a book where Marks lays out his experiences as a trader. He describes all of his mistakes and successes. He also employs the help of four other famous traders who add commentary on his experiences. It is easy to read and understand, and it's quite the page-turner.
Against the Gods by Peter Bernstein (1998)
No investor can be successful without knowledge of risk-management. Against the Gods is one the most popular books that look at risk-management in finance. Bernstein explores the idea of risk and probability throughout history, from ancient Greece to the modern markets. He also stresses the underlying role that risk plays in concepts from game theory to winemaking. The book is divided into four sections, each of which explores the role of financial risk during an allotted period of time. This book would definitely be a favorite of philosophical mathematicians. It may be dull to some, but the lessons in it are crucial to any successful investor.
While these books are very important to paving your way to becoming the next Warren Buffett, nothing written within these pages will tell you how to make truckloads of money. Think of these books as teaching you how to fish rather than giving you the fish. Knowledge is power, but in the world of investing, knowledge is money. The more you read, the greater is your chance of making and keeping money. Isn’t that what investing is about?
Roshenda Ellis is a contributing writer. Email her at
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