Robert “Bobby” Monks is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and led nineteen businesses in the financial services, real estate, media, and technology sectors. He was chairman of Spinnaker Trust, managing over $1 billion in assets; chairman of Institutional Shareholder Services and Proxy Monitor, the two largest corporate governance and proxy voting services; and founder and director of Atlantic Bank.
Mr. Monks is on the board of ProPublica. He has appeared on Bloomberg Radio and has contributed to MarketWatch and TheStreet.com. As busy as he is, Mr. Monks has found time to write Uninve$ted: How Wall Street Hijacks Your Money & How to Fight Back with contributors Justin Jaffee and Bree LaCasse.
In Uninve$ted, Mr. Monks argues that the financial system is a dysfunctional beast that works against the small, individual investor. He notes that when it comes to investing for retirement, most people are operating in the dark. Not only do they not understand where their money is going, they don’t know how much they are paying in fees … a killer. A key point that Monks makes, which may come as a surprise to most, is that the majority of financial advisors and money managers have no legal requirement to act in their client’s best interest, to act as what is called a fiduciary.
My favorite chapters were the second and sixth. Though brief, at 17 pages, Monks gives a nice summary of how we moved from defined benefit plans (pensions) to the 401(k), a defined contribution plan, in the second chapter, Sleepwalking into Retirement: The Shift from Pension to 401(k). This shift changed the retirement game in the United States. The sixth chapter, Awakened: A Better Way to Invest, makes what I believe is the most salient point, one I often make here on this blog, individuals need to take control over and responsibility for their investing. Monks notes:
There is a better way to invest – a simpler, more sustainable way. It requires only that investors, individually and collectively, take back what is rightfully theirs: control over and responsibility for their investing.
Doing so offers the best hope for meeting their financial needs in retirement.
At a brief 138 pages, Uninve$ted can be read in one sitting; perfect for a long flight, bus or train ride. I will be giving away one copy of the book to a reader. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below. For those not fortunate enough to win the copy, the book is available on Amazon in Kindle and Hardcover formats. While I believe it is a worthwhile read, the prices, $12.99 for the Kindle version and $15.49 for the hardcover version, strike me as a little high. Hopefully the prices will drop soon, making the book a little more appealing.
The Giveaway will end, and the winner selected, at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, November 1st.