How a Dying Wish Became a Best-Selling Investment Guide

Friday, 4 February 2011

A shot to beat the buzzer, a walk-off home run...the most memorable winning moments often come at these final stages of a game, with the clock running down and your back against the wall.  Seldom does real life offer these same opportunities to make an indelible mark while staring death in the face. But for Gordon Murray, a former Wall Street investment banker, that's exactly what happened.

Murray died on January 15 at the age of 60 from glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.  Fortunately, several months before he died he was able to accomplish his dream, to write and publish an investment guide for individual investors.  "He really wanted these ideas in a book and to get it out in the hands of a lot of individual investors," says co-author Dan Goldie. "That was his dream."

After years of putting it off, Goldie pushed Murray to work on "The Investment Answer" last year, after Murray decided to cease his cancer treatments. "The book was actually his last project," Goldie tells Aaron Task in the accompanying clip.

Murray and Goldie began their working relationship in 2001 after Murray retired and was looking for someone to help manage his money. The mix of common sense and contrarian principles Goldie taught Murray became the basis for the book.

"The Investment Answer" is broken down into five main principles:
1. Hire a fee-only, independent financial advisor, not a broker who is compensated for selling you company products.  This is an issue both Goldie and Murray felt strongly about.  "[Murray] didn't care for the retail side of Wall Street; he felt that was the side of Wall Street that was really hurting people," Goldie says. "This book was his attempt to try to educate people and help level the playing field."

2. Diversify among stocks and bonds, buying both large and small caps and value and growth.

3. Divide foreign and domestic investments.

4. Decide if you want to own passive or actively managed mutual funds.  Goldie and Murray both encourage passive investing. "Over time a passive strategy on average will outperform an active strategy," says Goldie.  This concept was hard, even for Goldie, to understand at first.  "I was brought up under the idea that if you worked harder and you were smarter and better, you would perform better. But it doesn't hold with investing."

5. Rebalance your portfolio.
Goldie continues to work as an independent financial advisor and promote his friend's dying wish. 

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