You may be among those who are scouring the newspaper and magazine lists of the best books of 2014 .....
..... for something to read on the beach over the Christmas and New Year break.
Perhaps you have John Grisham's latest legal thriller, Gray Mountain, in mind to add to your reading list or maybe Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North, the much-acclaimed winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.
Hopefully, you may also find a little room on your holiday reading list for something completely different from the offerings on the bestseller lists. One suggestion:Vanguard's Principles for Investing Success.
Understandably, you might find it hard to put down Flanagan or Grisham's works – or whatever your reading interests – to read about sound investment principles.
However, it shouldn't be overlooked that the holiday break can provide an ideal environment to think about how to improve your personal finances and investments over the next 12 months and into the long term.
Time spent in quiet contemplation away from the distractions of work may be highly rewarding for your future finances.
Vanguard's long-standing and periodically-updated research paper is a practical, back-to-basics guide to getting your investment portfolio and your investment practices into shape. Perhaps it will form the basis for some of your New Year's resolutions.
The paper suggests that investors take four fundamental steps in their efforts to succeed: Set appropriate investment goals, develop an appropriate long-term asset allocation for your portfolio, minimise investment costs and keep your emotions under control.
One of the central themes is that investors should focus on what they can control. "Instead," the authors write, "too many focus on the markets, the economy, [fund] manager ratings or the performance of an individual security or strategy, overlooking the fundamental principles…"
One of the best Christmas presents you can give yourself and your family is to get your investment portfolio into shape.
By Robin Bowerman
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia
12 December 2014