Monday, 27 February 2012

Book Review: 52 Ways to Wreck Your Retirement ... and How to Rescue It by Tina Di Vito

Looking for an easy to read and digest introduction for the ordinary "Joe" with the basics of how to make a success of retirement? If so, this book by Tina Di Vito, who is the head of the BMO Retirement Institute, is aimed at you.

Written in an informal style with a smattering of numbers and almost no tables, graphs and calculations, the book speaks to the reader in the manner of a chat at the kitchen table by a knowledgeable friend. Each of the fifty-two chapters covers one or two ideas in about five pages, with single sentence "to do" points at the end of each. It is easy and pleasurable reading.

It is thus no surprise that the content provides a good understanding of the nature of problems and their solutions but for the most part, does not give enough knowledge for the reader to go off and fix things him/herself. It is not a book for the DIY person. Rather it is a book that prepares the reader to be a smarter consumer when going to seek the advice of a professional advisor.

To make the bottom line message of the book "go get professional advice" is fine. But I wanted more detailed and trenchant coverage than we get in the chapter (51) on the topic of who to get advice from. The reader is given a list of twelve types of accredited advisors with each designation's title, initials, website link and description. That's a good start but the descriptions are too overlapping and vague to allow someone to know which to choose for what problem and how or whether to assemble a team.

It was also disappointing not to read more cautions about advisor compensation and the potential for conflicts of interest between what is good for the advisor and what is good for the client. The existence of commission, fee-based and fee-only compensation models is not explained, nor the dangers lurking for clients whose advisors do not act first and only on their behalf. That is as surely a way to wreck one's retirement as any other in the 52.

Similarly, the author could have been more forceful in emphasizing that retirees should pay close attention to the costs and fees for various products mentioned. Whether it is mutual / ETF funds, insurance, principal protected notes, segregated funds, flavours of annuities and retirement income products, costs matter a lot in deciding whether any are worth buying at all. The idea may fit the problem but the fees/costs may be too high.

Favorite Bits:
  • see yourself old and save more for retirement ... a research study is cited wherein people who were shown an image of themselves digitally altered into old age saved at more than twice the rate ... since I do not have such software, I'll just have to make do with looking at my parents instead!
  • people buying stuff with a credit card instead of cash are willing to spend 50% to 200% more for an item
  • retirees feel a loss five times more than a similar gain; that sensitivity, aka aversion, to losses compares to the usual 2:1 ratio cited for the average person; I looked up the original study at AARP here and discovered that in fact many retirees scale at 10:1 or more.
Rating: Not the complete story but worthwhile, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher Wiley, where the complete table of contents can be viewed, for providing me with a review copy. It is also available there for purchase in Adobe's Digital Editions (software is free download) eBook format, which is how I've read it on my laptop.

No comments:

Wikinvest Wire

Economic Calendar

 Powered by Forex Pros - The Forex Trading Portal.