Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Review: The Handbook of Personal Wealth Management

The Handbook of Personal Wealth Management is a publication comprising 41 chapters covering a variety of topics related to the subject of personal wealth management. The chapters are written by a number of different authors from several different financial institutions or service providers.

Contributors include a few well known names like TSB Lloyds and PricewaterhouseCoopers. However, most of the contributors were companies that I had never heard of - a fact which may well be a function of the fact that I have never lived in the UK.

The positives

The book coves a range of subjects. In most cases the chapters are well written and accessible. Material often (but not always) starts with the basics but then moves on to discuss more advanced issues. The latter makes those chapters of the book useful for people with limited backgrounds in the subject material as well as those looking for a little bit more in depth discussion. The range of subjects covered in a single publication is impressive. Subjects covered include: wealth management, ethical investing, portfolio management, mainstream investment alternatives, angel investing, private equity, pensions, real estate, coloured diamonds, gold, art, forestry, wine and race horses. There are also sections on selecting advisers and (UK) taxation.

At a personal level I found the sections on coloured diamonds and forestry most interesting as they are areas that I had not considered before. While I do not see myself investing in coloured diamonds any time soon, forestry may be worth a closer look.

The chapter on the Yale investment management model also raised my awareness on the issue of asset allocation. I have since purchased a book on this subject.

A few negatives

The book has a strong UK focus which renders several chapters irrelevant to my personal circumstances. Given that it is a sponsored publication, written by organisations selling the services that they write about a certain amount of caution is needed when reading each chapter.

The greatest quibble I have with the book is that it is effectively sponsored by the organisations whose employees write each chapter. The majority of the chapters are well written and contain a useful primer on the relevant subject. However, a few chapters seem a bit weak in comparison, lacking factual support for the assertions made. A handful read much like paid advertisements which detracts from both an objective understanding of the subject matter but also from the overall quality of the publication. The sponsored nature of the publication also gave rise to a certain degree of caution regarding all of the contributions.

Overall, a useful introduction to many of the subjects covered although UK residents would be likely to derive more benefit than I did.

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