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April 02 , 2010

The Aspirational Investor

Taming the Markets to Achieve Your Life's Goals


Why are otherwise smart and competent people such lousy investors? Individual investors give up as much as two-thirds of their potential investment returns in misguided efforts to beat the market—and most don't even realize it.

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Ashvin B. Chhabra, chief investment officer of one of the world's largest wealth management firms, explains that an important idea has gotten lost amid the relentless pursuit of investment returns. Rather than trying to beat the market, your primary goal should be to construct an investment strategy that creates a solid safety net and enables you to pursue your dreams and aspirations.

With no more guarantee of lifelong jobs or pensions, all of us bear the burden of investing wisely. But many of us focus on the wrong set of investment activities, such as identifying the next great start-up or star fund manager, or simply beating a market benchmark. Even the standard framework for investing, modern portfolio theory, offers an incomplete solution. Meanwhile, the grand debates in finance, such as indexing versus active management, prioritize the wrong set of issues.

We need a framework that shifts the focus of investment strategy from portfolios and markets to individuals and the objectives that really matter: protection against unexpected financial crises or retirement planning. Whatever matters most to you—paying for your kid's education, starting your own business, endowing your favorite charity, or traveling the world—you need a road map to help you achieve both your essential and aspirational goals.

In The Aspirational Investor, Ashvin B. Chhabra outlines a groundbreaking yet intuitive approach to managing wealth, based on the identification of key goals and the careful allocation of resources and risks. The Wealth Allocation Framework will help you connect your investment portfolio with your life's goals, and accommodate the three seemingly incompatible objectives that must underpin every sound wealth management strategy: the need for financial security in the face of unknowable risks, the desire to maintain current living standards despite inflation, and the opportunity for life-changing wealth creation.

Chhabra's pioneering work illuminates some surprising facts about how people get very wealthy, and reinterprets the success formulas of investing greats such as Warren Buffett and David Swensen. Chhabra also offers a novel perspective: If the markets don't really care about you, as surely they do not, then why should you spend all your time and effort trying to beat them?

Raising the bar for what we should expect from our investment portfolios—and from our investment advisors—The Aspirational Investor is a thoughtful, practical guide for any investor, regardless of income or wealth level.

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