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Book Review: Rob Carrick’s Guide To What’s Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today


Rob Carrick, the author of this book, is a personal finance writer for the Globe and Mail. I’ve read some of his articles in the Globe and they were thoughtful and well written unlike the gimmicky click bait articles that you find on Yahoo Finance. Most of his writing focuses on good common sense behaviour and living within your means, which in essence is what being successful at personal finance is all about. It therefore, piqued my interest when I saw that he had published a book on Canadian investments. So I took a gander to see what it was all about.

I really didn’t know what to expect out of the book, but it certainly had more opinions from the author than your standard, vanilla personal finance book. A lot of novice investing books focus on getting your finances in order and how to budget, but as the title of the book suggests, it is all about investments and the different choices you come up against.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to a complete novice simply because it doesn’t help you get started in the world of personal finance, but for those who have built up a little bit of savings and wants to learn more about investing, this book isn’t the worst place to start.

Lots Of Reviews And Resources

When I read through this book, I got the feeling I was reading through a RottenTomatoes website, but the reviews were on investment companies and websites. True to the title of the book, the author focuses a lot of attention on the different mutual fund companies that sell to the average investor, and also the numerous websites that investors can use to research their investment options. If you are looking for a resourceful guide on finding the best investment websites to read, this book will definitely point you in the right direction. Even for intermediate or advance investors, this book will probably provide you with more content that can further whet your appetite.

Perhaps one knock on the book is that there is too much information. From the perspective of a novice investor or a someone who is just trying to learn about investments, there are too many sites and company names being thrown at you. It’s hard to keep track of where to go and what to read next when you’re already lost to begin with. Thankfully, if you have a copy of the book, you can always go back and review some of the recommendations when you are ready to find more reading material.

Find Your Adviser

The strongest section in the book comes near the end when the author writes about finding the right financial adviser for you. I strongly agree with the author when he writes that finding the right financial adviser shouldn’t be someone that just manages your money. Personal finance is so much more than investing money. That’s something that many people don’t understand and end up with a mutual fund salesperson as their adviser. The realm of personal finance gets much deeper into the personal lives of the individual than simply, “hey, let me help you invest your money!” Think of your financial adviser as your personal psychiatrist for money related matters.

The section around finding the right financial adviser provides really good insight on how individuals should approach finding theirs. In simple terms, finding an adviser is almost like trying to find an employee. In this case, you are the one with all the powers and you should be the one asking all the questions. If you really think about it, the financial adviser is working for you. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions, which this book does a really good job at outlining. You should prepare your conversations from the outset as if you are interviewing an employee in your company.

In my own personal experience, I’ve gone through 3 financial advisers. Sometimes the first one you select, or given to you by the bank, isn’t the right one for you. The relationship really becomes a social interaction of your own personal goals and how to accomplish them financially. If the adviser doesn’t truly understand your goals, then that person is not right for you. Don’t be afraid to go through trial and error, but definitely use some of the guiding principals that this book provides when trying to find the right one.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge

The purpose of this book was to provide readers with more knowledge on investment choices in Canada. Additionally, it provides readers with even more resources to further explore and learn about investments. If you are looking for some kind of step by step guide or some sort of magic formula to help you build an investment portfolio then this isn’t the kind of book you will want to read. If you are trying to research more about investments, especially mutual funds and ETFs, then this book will definitely give you a good overview of the Canadian industry.

Being solely Canadian focused, global readers might not find as much information that they are looking for. Even if the investment choices are not for you, any reader would still benefit from reading the section about finding a personal financial adviser. Take some notes and bring it to your next meeting with your own adviser.

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