Guy Thomas’ Free Capital: At last, a true to life account of UK investing

Thursday, May 05 2011 by
Guy Thomas Free Capital At last a true to life account of UK investing

Fans of stock market investing literature will know that, unfortunately, many of the best books are American. While a lot of what’s discussed in “John Neff on Investing” or "How to Make Money in Stocks" is universal, those of us deploying our capital on this side of the pond can’t help hankering for something a bit more.. well, British frankly. Jonathan Davis’s Money Makers does give a good account of Anthony Bolton and other institutional gurus but still, wouldn’t it be nice to read something closer to the prosaic day to day realities of UK PI investing?

As it happens, help is now at hand with the arrival of Guy Thomas’ excellent new book, Free Capital. Thomas is an investor and former academic actuary who has painstakingly chronicled how 12 UK private investors accumulated sufficient "free capital" to dedicate themselves full-time to their portfolios. Each has made £1m or more - in most cases considerably more – from investing.

With some similarities to Money Makers or Jack Schwager’s Market Wizards series, the book covers these investors’ backgrounds, how they made their fortunes, and how they spend their days now. For those interested in the UK investing space, it is highly recommended reading for a wide range of insights on successful strategies and approaches.

Most of the investors interviewed by the author are only identified using pseudonyms but some profiles will be familiar to users of this site (wink, wink); they apparently also include some of the most prolific posters on bulletinboards like TMF & ADVFN. The divergence in background is striking. Some have several academic degrees or strong City backgrounds; others left school with few qualifications and are entirely self-taught as investors. They also have very different styles. Some invest most of their money in a small number of shares and hold them for years at a time; others make dozens of trades every day, and hold them for at most a few hours. Some are inveterate networkers, who spend their day talking to managers at companies in which they invest; for others a share is just a symbol on a screen.

While no approach emerges as clearly superior to the others, interestingly, Guy Thomas classifies eight of the twelve investors as ‘surveyors’ – who start bottom-up with the company, its balance sheet and its prospects – while only two are ‘geographers’ – i.e. top down…

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5 Comments on this Article show/hide all

Isaac 5th May '11 1 of 5

This is an interesting article, thank you. Here is TMF's version :

Stockopedia - Can you please allow readers to book mark a page so they can come back and read it the thread later? Thanks.

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littledavesab 9th May '11 2 of 5

The GEI article is here

Apparently some GEI members (not me) were featured in the book. Given the nature of that website (which I happen to like) that might surprise some..........


+ the author has a blog which partially reviews the book -

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harryr 11th May '11 3 of 5

Might like to look at my posts on STOCKOPEDIA. over the last 12 months

First came NTA up 400% since

Next came IDG up 100%[ with more news toda via an RNS]

Then FTS 23p to 32p inc divi all within the last 6 months.[See todays RNS]

PFO posted just 3 weeks ago trades on a pe of just two.

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Stegrego 21st May '11 4 of 5

Tara7 from ADVFN cannot resist ramping on here as well.
I would personally ignore any postings by harryr on this site.

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Monty9 18th Jun '11 5 of 5

An excellent book, particularly for those of us who are not a hedge fund manager or other senior industry big shot. Its detailed appraisal of pretty much every form of investment realistically open to the private individual is a treat. It is clear Guy has done a most thorough job. The book leaves the reader with an understanding of a number of investment styles that have been successful over a significant period. Beyond that a number of the stories are really heart-warming.

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