Book Review: Free Capital by Guy Thomas

Ian Cassel Blog, Book Reviews 7 Comments

When getting to know someone for the first time a question that ultimately comes up is, “What do you do for a living?”, and I hate this question. I find being a “full time private investor” is very hard to explain to those with financial-stock market experience let alone those that don’t. My wife knows this all too well. We are at a cocktail party or something and this question will be asked, and my wife and I exchange glances with a smirk. I don’t know why but however I explain it, I get the feeling that people leave the conversation thinking I’m definitely doing something illegal. Heck, when I first met my wife and I explained it to her I think she really thought I was a cocaine dealer. Over the years I’ve found the best answer to be that I’m “unemployed” because it will most certainly be the end to the conversation 🙂

I think the biggest reason people don’t quite understand how someone can be a full time private investor is because it’s so rare. Most successful investors end up starting a fund and managing other people’s money so they can scale and monetize their expertise. Staying a full time private investor is an enigma.

First, I would like to give a hat tip to Anil Tulsiram (@Anil_Tulsiram) and his blog at ContrarianValue Edge for bringing Free Capital to my attention.  Anil’s review of Free Capital is much better than mine and should be read.

Free Capital is a book covering the lives and investment philosophies of 12 private full time investors mostly based in the UK. Their investment styles range from traders to investors, from momentum to value investors. I would estimate that most in the book manage a private portfolio of $2-5 million (USD) while a few of them $10-50 million. 

The book gives a background on each investor, how they became a full time investor, and how their experiences seemed to shape their investment philosophies. It was really hard for me to put the book down, as I felt a close connection with a few of the investors. An overriding theme that stuck with me through the book was freedom. Freedom from clients, customers, a boss, a job, a geography, etc. Here is a great quote from one of the investors:

“I found that it was possible to live a satisfying life on far less money than a banker’s salary……I realized that freedom is like income that cannot be taxed.”

If you are a full time investor-trader or aspire to be one, I highly recommend Free Capital. You can buy it [HERE].

If you liked this book review, you’ll enjoy this podcast: So You Want To Be A Full Time MicroCap Investor?

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  1. I know EXACTLY what you mean. I’ve struggled for a way to explain without giving too much detail. I usually start off saying “well I’m a self-employed business analyst”. Or “basically I manage a fund for just a few clients”. But if you say “I got my own portfolio to run” then you’ll find people expecting you to pick up the tab at dinner or something, an impression I do NOT want to convey!

  2. I is great book for private investors. Very inspirational. Also gives non American (European) perspective which is rare in investment literature.
    I recommend another book in same genre- “Why you Win or Lose: The psychology of speculation” By Fred Kelly. The book was written in 1930 but still very valid. Fred was a magazine writer who became contrarian fundamental investor to augment his income. He ended up becoming very rich and happy man. He has espoused the virtue of being contrarian in the market in this small but excellent book.

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