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Winning the Loser's Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing
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Winning the Loser's Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  743 ratings  ·  58 reviews

"Winning the Loser's Game is considered by many to be a classic analysis of investing." Financial Planning

The premise of the bestselling Winning the Loser's Gamethat individual investors can achieve far greater success working with financial markets than against themhas grown increasingly popular in today's hard-to-predict markets. The latest edition of this concise yet c

Hardcover, 182 pages
Published March 14th 2002 by McGraw-Hill (first published February 1st 1998)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  743 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
A short book with lots of difficult vocabulary about investing that concentrates too much on institutional investors especially through the beginning of the book. Ellis highlights a few central themes at the beginning about risk, returns, and portfolios with similarities to the points of Bernstein and Malkiel, but he explains in doing so how your investment manager should be watched. Ellis notes investment managers who happen to do very well, should be doing so within the predetermined risk tole ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously the author was a successful investor. However, this book is a load of crap. He is a paid shill for Vanguard, American Funds, and T. Rowe Price (he does disclose in the book). His mantra is that active asset management doesn't work and the best funds are the cheapest. Being an investment professional, I have yet to find any of the "cheap" funds from Vanguard anywhere near the top 25% in performance. His incessant harping on indexing as the only way to invest doesn't answer the question ...more
Jason Born
Simple is usually best. In this case, the simplification takes away from real world issues that clients can have regarding their allocation and actual needs for money at inopportune times in the market. But there are worse books.
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
For me personally, there was nothing new in this book that I haven't already read elsewhere. So while I didn't particularly enjoy it, I would recommend it for the average person who has a retirement account and needs to learn some basics. It contains some very basic and prudent investing advice. The basic premise is to invest properly, you must act like an amateur tennis player and make less mistakes. Professionals win points with their skill - amateurs lost fewer points than their opponents.

Roy Wang
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Readers who are already familiar with the works of Burton G. Malkiel and William J. Bernstein will most likely find nothing new in this book, which can pretty much be summed up in one sentence: Buy index funds/ETFs and invest for the long term. With that said, the book does a good job of explaining why most ordinary investors should not aim to maximize investment returns, but rather to lower costs and curb excessive risk taking. To that end, buying and holding low-cost index funds or ETFs is the ...more
Peter Livingstone
One of the best, most succinct books for the individual investor I've read.

Short and to the point, this is one of the best books I've read for the individual investor. It doesn't go into much detail of specific asset classes, but has a great, high level, evidence based approach to one's overall investment approach. It's probably good to revisit once every few years as one's situation evolves. It may also be good for financial advisers to bridge the gap with clients. Additionally, the high level
Ogi Ogas
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
My ratings of books on Goodreads are solely a crude ranking of their utility to me, and not an evaluation of literary merit, entertainment value, social importance, humor, insightfulness, scientific accuracy, creative vigor, suspensefulness of plot, depth of characters, vitality of theme, excitement of climax, satisfaction of ending, or any other combination of dimensions of value which we are expected to boil down through some fabulous alchemy into a single digit.
Sandy Salzinger
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Classic investing advice written well. I enjoyed reading this short book even though the concepts are not new to me. Use index funds because of low expenses and taxes. Practice “benign neglect” pertaining to investment management. Those who can keep expenses and taxes low and stay the course will win the loser’s game. I love his analogy to tennis.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book for anyone whether you're managing your own money or not. It's written in a straightforward way and is very clear about why, even if someone promises they can do it, it is not possible to beat the market. Ellis has an excellent resume that gives credibility to his advice.
Gordon Howard
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
A good message - for ordinary investors indexing is the only way to go, and portfolio allocation is so important (stocks are often under-weighted, even for older individuals). But the whole thing could have fit into a longer magazine article, and has been spun out to boring levels in the book.
Andrew Black
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Could be summed up in one sentence: buy index funds. Was expecting a lot more. Probably more innovative and exciting when it first came out.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Basically the same message as A Random Walk Down Wall Street except for the writing style is more boring. I recommend Malkiel's book, it's more entertaining and will teach you the same lesson
Brandon Goodwin
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Much more actionable and comprehensible than similar investing literature. Smart, calm and polished.
Madhur Ahuja
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: money
One of the best books on investing
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Raghu by: Raj Rajendran
Reading this book in 2008 may probably make some people feel as though it is not saying anything new. It emphasises a number of things that have become common wisdom nowadays - that you should invest in index funds, not try to beat the market but focus on beating taxes and inflation, that almost 75% of the fund managers underperform the market etc..etc.
But that does not make the book a boring one. To me, it makes an interesting argument as to why we should not try to beat the market. In the 1960
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in controlling their own financial future
Recommended to Anthony by: internet
The value in this book is that it presents the arguement that index funds are a better long term investment than actively managed funds, in a clear, concise, easy to read, common sense approach. He explains how over the years, investment managers have turned the "winner's game" into the "loser's game". The major markets have become more efficient as more information is instantly absorbed by teams of highly educated, highly motivated, smart investment professionals. The author argues that over th ...more
I like the portrail of investing as a "losers game"--not a game that can't be won, but one which is usually decided by the loser faulting rather than the winner exhibiting superior skill or talent (pp. 1-6). Interesting that it hasn't always been this way, though. In the 1960s institutions did only 10 percent of the public trading; now they make 90 percent of all NYSE public trades (pp. 10-11). The advantage the professionals once offered is now gone--not because they "lack skill or diligence", ...more
Joel Gray
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it

Advice doesn't have to be complicated to be good.

Disciplined investors have the confidence and perspective to endure the markets inevitable downturns.

We are confirmation biased - looking for and overweight the significance of data that support our initial impressions.

Four ways to achieve an unfair CA in FM;
i) work longer hours
ii) think more deeply and further into the
Jonathan Perez
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book after seeing it referenced several times by Howard Marks in his own book The most important things. As many other reviews have said, it is a good reminder of the relevance and power of simply avoiding mistakes, passive investment and compounded interest. I especially liked the chapter about Mr Market and Mr Value. Simply explained and so true. That made me want to learn more about his achievements at Yale alongside David Swensen. I also wonder how he would qualify War ...more
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was about how to make profit in different ways. The author spoke on finding ways to beat the market. He said how professionals do better off and some aspects than individuals. Next, people who put themselves out their and take risks go further as investors people who don`t they will have a more challenging time in getting that profit. So, you always have to find ways as an investor to make the most profit you can to have good living for yourself.
This book was good because it teaches yo
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charley Ellis's message should resonate with investors: minimize transactions costs and superfluous fees, maintain a long-term investment horizon founded on a well-reasoned investment policy, tune out noise, and benefit from the profound effects of time and compounding on portfolios.

Ellis also highlights the use of trusts as a tax minimization technique to transfer wealth, which will help wealthy readers with succession planning.

Overall, I recommend this book to one starting out in investing.
Brentley Campbell
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really this book is more of a 3.5 stars but a lot of it is better. Charles Ellis clearly explains how the market fluctuates and gives great advice to individual investors. His concept of the institutional investment game being a loser's game is definitely true, however, one can always play a different game and not invest in just the S & P. However, for investors who do not have all of their time to dedicate to investing, going with a great value manager (if you have enough money to invest) o ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a nutshell, don't buy stocks buy stock indexes NOT managed funds. You'll never lose over the long run. This is an enlightening book especially for individuals making their own long term investing decisions for retirement, as many regular folks are doing. It's well written and keeps the non-professional reader engaged and reading till the end. Some interesting points: even if you are retired, keep a long horizon as your investment goal, high costs of money management eats into stock fund gains ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
The advice is sound, but the book just isn't a pleasant read. It repeats itself quite a bit, too. Financial books in general have a "glass ceiling" of four stars, perhaps. It helps, though, when they contrast people, real or hypothetical, who make wise decisions with those who make poor decisions. In particular, I remember "The Millionaire Next Door" comparing "Dr. North" with "Dr. South", and actually getting a kick out of it. This book fails to do so. It's more a presentation of charts and num ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Individual investors should invest in equity-based index funds around the globe, have a time-horizon of decades and follow explicit, well-thought policies. T-bills, bonds, real estate, commodities and mutual funds are poor investments compared to equities.

Too much on why mutual fund sucks and why it is important to diversify. "it is more rewarding to study investment history than to study the present", I wish to find a detailed discussion on the great depression, the high interest r
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on 'majoring on the majors' in investing.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a little hard to get through in the middle of the book, as it largely seemed to repeat itself, but we'll worth it in the end. His closing chapters were eloquently written and the repetition, however annoying, did serve the purpose of really drilling in your head that index funds are the way to go. I ended up settling for ETFs, but this book was responsible for leading me there and I am quite pleased with the outcome.
Rich Williams
I couldn't decide between 2 or 3 stars. While I agree with main premise of the book (low cost index funds), it was very repetitive. The style is pleasant and easy to read but saying how you can be a winner, your unfair competitive advantage, the investor's dream team, etc. make it read like the sorts of investment books I avoid. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Malkiel and other books by Swensen and Tobias present more compelling cases for the same philosophy.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it liked it
While Ellis' book is a classic and it indeed walks you though why trying to stockpick is a loser's game other books such as Ferri's or Bernstein's are more suited if you want actionable advice on how to invest.

There is alot of IPS, investment policy statement recommendations in the book. For some, this may be a tad boring.
Mark Thomas
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about investing. Very accessible to those who may not be monetary experts. Clear cut, concise and easy to follow instruction on how to invest in ways that minimize risk, keep expenses lower and to yield returns that can meet the individual investors needs.

Recommended to me by a friend. A good suggestion...that I'll pass along to you.
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Charles “Charley” D. Ellis (born 1937) is a leading American investment consultant. In 1972, Ellis founded Greenwich Associates, an international strategy consulting firm focused on financial institutions. Ellis is known for his philosophy of passive investing through index funds, as published in his book “Winning the Loser’s Game.”
“After adjusting the comparison of index funds to actively managed funds for survivorship bias, taxes, and loads, the dominance of index funds reaches insurmountable proportions. Once” 2 likes
“An active manager must overcome the drag of about 3.25 percent in annual operating costs. If the fund manager is only to match the market’s historical 9 percent return, he or she must return 12.25 percent before all those costs. In other words, to do merely as well as the market, an active fund manager must be able to outperform the market return by over one-third or 34.1 percent!5” 1 likes
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