As I await the fall offerings from my usual sources, I have wandered off the beaten path—though not this time, I must admit, with especially satisfactory results. I started reading (and, alas, eventually discarded) a couple of books that were longlisted for the Booker Prize, with two more to try out. I’m part way through Opium and Empire, which I may write something about later on or then again may not. And I skimmed two motivational books in search of nuggets to share—looks as if I’ll have to dig deeper since nothing original popped up at first glance.
Today, more on point, I’d like to call your attention to a delightful little ebook that the author, Tom Brakke, sent me—Letters to a Young Analyst: Advice and Resources for Aspiring Investment Professionals. It’s available through the author’s website, The Research Puzzle. Those who purchase the book also receive a quarterly newsletter with “additional resources, advice from other investment professionals, feedback from readers, and further ideas from Tom about changing opportunities in the industry.”
The book begins with letters written by the author in 2010 to an aspiring analyst at the start of his career, inspired by Ian Stewart’s Letters to a Young Mathematician. The second part of the book is devoted to advice from twelve “other voices”—among them, Aswath Damodaran, David Merkel, Jack Rivkin, and Barry Ritholtz—as well as a few people who commented on the original letter series on the author’s website. Part three contains a new letter and part four, a selection of resources.
Most of the advice in this book is applicable to anyone starting out in the financial world (or pausing to reflect in the course of his career), not only to analysts. The advice ranges from “read around your subject” to learn VBA (a project that’s been on my to-do list for longer than I would care to admit) to recognize the risks of both insufficient quantitative analysis and over-reliance on quantitative analysis. On balance, pretty sound advice.
The author introduces the reader to a wide range of resources—books, periodicals, websites, even Twitter handles. I was familiar with most of these resources but was delighted to find some hitherto unknown gems in the lists.
All in all, a pleasant, occasionally uplifting read.