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Excess Returns by Frederik Vanhaverbeke REVIEW BY CLAIRE DWYER, FIDELITY PERSONAL INVESTING

In this elegant new study Vanheverbeke offers his readers a brisk immersion in the investment philosophy and techniques of the world?s most renowned investors.

The grand tour begins with an interrogation of various investment styles. ?Beating the market isn?t easy,? he acknowledges, before revealing a list (of mostly American) investment legends who?ve repeatedly succeeded in this aim. Benjamin Graham, Charlie Munger, John Templeton, Philip Carret, as well as Fidelity?s own Anthony Bolton and Peter Lynch, feature heavily.

A glance at the chapter subheadings hints that this book is considerably more comprehensive than others of its kind, at times encyclopaedic in its scope. It could all become a bit exhausting, but quotations from the great and the good of the investment world lend a dash of colour.

We have: ?Choosing individual stocks without any idea of what you?re looking for is like running through a dynamite factory with a burning match. You may live, but you?re still an idiot,? from Joel Greenblatt?s ?The little book that beats the market.?

And: ?Vanity plays a great part in the willingness with which traders fall victim to supposed ?straight tips?. If, however, he will have the humility to believe that he may be the thousandth rather than the first or second to hear the bullish story, this lack of self-pride will probably be well-rewarded. No one has ever attained a fortune seeking the advice of others,? from David Carret?s ?The book of investing wisdom.?

The best bits of the volume tackle notions of ?investor intelligence? which Vanheverbeke argues hinges as much on behavioural propensities as anything else. The ideal fund manager, he says? Independent, eternally studious, humble, discreet, patient, courageous and knowledgeable.

One passing remark: Vanheverbeke occasionally tends to assume a newness in the subject which is not always warranted, nevertheless this doesn?t detract from this highly compelling work.

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