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Friday 17 June 2011

Book Review: The Only Three Questions That Count by Ken Fisher

I picked up this book because of two reasons, one because I had read few of his articles in Forbes, but primarily because he is the son of the legendary Phil Fisher.

The book looks at three questions that every investor needs to ask himself. They are:
Q1. What do you believe that is actually false (wrong)?
Q2. What can you fathom that others find unfathomable?
Q3. What the heck is my brain doing to blindside me now?

Question 1 delves into variant perception. That is, what do you think that is different from the consensus. Because the only way to make money is when you are right and the majority is wrong.

Question 2 delves into your personal strategic competitive advantage. What is your differentiator? Or in Warren Buffet's language, what is your circle of competence? Unless you have a definite competitive advantage, it is going to be very difficult to make better than average returns.

Question 3 digs deeper into behavioral psychology. As an investor, you have to be very very careful of how the inherent biases are affecting your decision making. Fear, greed, loss aversion and other such biases are always at work and investors have to be on their conscious guard against them. (For a great book on psychology of various biases you can read - Influence by Robert Cialdini.)

The book is interesting in parts. But it actually does not contain anything new. Also, I got the overwhelming feeling that the author was trying to impress upon the reader that he is some hotshot money manager. His continuous stress on the Price/Sales ratio, which supposedly the author had pioneered keeps getting bombarded at the reader as if it was the discovery of the 8th wonder of the world.

Overall, a mediocre book which you can decide to pass.

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