Book Review: The Education of a Value Investor by Guy Spier


"“There’s a joke on Wall Street that a hedge fund is really just a fee structure in search of an investor to fleece.” - Guy Spier



The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom and Enlightenment by Guy Spier is full of golden nuggets like that one, which made me giggle. (It's funny 'cause it's true!) But even so, this was a surprisingly feel-good read- or should I say listen. I downloaded it as an audio book on audible and enjoyed it while I was doing menial clean-up tasks, and I kept catching myself smiling. It's not that often that a book about investing gives you the warm fuzzies!

Like a few other famous investment books, Education of a Value Investor is actually a philosophy book wearing the clever disguise of a book about finance. This is a big reason why I enjoyed it so much! You don't need a high-level understanding of finance to take away important information from this book, both about investing and about life.

 Usually when someone takes it upon themselves to write a proper book, it's to some degree an act of self-aggrandizement. This makes them likely to gloss over their mistakes in hopes to leave a glistening legacy. Thank goodness Spier doesn't do this, because it would leave out the meat and potatoes of this read. Fortunately, Spier is candid with us about his mistakes, weaknesses and insecurities, and walks us through the stages of his personal development. I didn't know much about him before I read this book, so I found myself cheering for him when he finally changed his fee structure from Wall Street Rip Off to a more Buffett-like one. 'Cause if you know me at all, fees are my pet peeve.

Many of those insecurities are universal: we may feel not smart enough, so we grandstand intellectually. We may feel like failures compared to our peers, so we overpay for status symbols like bigger offices or cars. Spier picks apart the human factors which were the causes for his mistakes, and tells us exactly how he got burned so that we may spare ourselves the pain. Hammering home Warren Buffet's idea of measuring yourself by an "inner scorecard", Spier's transformation from measuring himself by others' metrics, to measuring himself honestly from within, is a wonderful metamorphosis to see and emulate.  Even if you're not interested in investing, this book is valuable if you've ever worked through self-esteem issues related to your career.

My personal favorite takeaways;
- Book / Program recommendations: Spier gives credit where credit is due, and mentions plenty of inspiring books and programs by name. I'm actually reading one of them now, Influence by Cialdini. I plan on exploring others later!
- Inspiration to not give up after working in a snake pit: My first job out of college was in a snake pit, too! Hearing Spier talk about his recovery after leaving his first job at an unethical firm really reminded me of mine. You leave feeling like an idiot, like you've been duped, and like everyone knows you're a loser. It was so heartening to hear that it happens to the best of us.
- Down to Earth: Spier is open with us about his ADD, while most in the world of finance will have you believe that all investment bankers are infallible superhumans with machine-like optimized brains.

So there's the normal review: I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Have fun!

Disclaimers: Yes, that's an affiliate link, but hey, might as well right?

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