I wrote Rocking Wall Street to shake up the way you invest before it's too late -- simply by telling you the truth.
The statistics, recommendations and investing concepts in the book are the kinds of things most brokers, mutual funds managers, money managers, financial advisers and their parent firms don't want you to know.
With the help of my ally John Mauldin and publisher John A. Wiley & Sons, the truth is now out.
Most investors who are looking for advisory relationships aren't taking into consideration the motivations behind those jostling for their attention and their business. Statistics can be manipulated legally (unfortunately) to make many risky and inappropriate investment strategies and funds look far better and less risky than they will turn out to be through a full market cycle.
Investors are too often the victims of slick advertising campaigns designed to speak to their greed and allay their fears, while successful investors do the opposite: They listen very closely to their fears and skepticism and try to deactivate decisions based on greed or quick fixes or easy answers.
Most people don't understand their own motivations around the investing process, and the fine line that exists between investing and gambling. Gambling has more often than not led to the self-destruction of a lifetime, or generational lifetimes, of wealth accumulation.
If you don't know at what point you would sell a stock that a financial professional urges you to buy, it can easily turn into a loser's game. Buy-and-hold investing works well during bull market cycles.
But it falls apart statistically and practically for the average investor in bear markets. Therefore, knowing when and why to sell before you buy an investment is critical.
A second powerful concept addressed in the book that seems to be a part of every successful investor's repertoire is the concept of hedging. I am talking about hedging on many different levels, from hedging an investment, to hedging your emotions about an investment, to using hedge funds and funds-of-funds to noncorrelate your portfolio.
Good funds of hedge funds can offer excellent diversification, due diligence and portfolio management (when and why to sell a manager or strategy, and when to buy), since you are letting the management team do that work for you.
A third concept in
Rocking Wall Street
offers specific investing advice to both the average investor and the high-net-worth investor.
For the average (nonqualified) investor, dollar cost averaging and using indices is suggested to save money on abnormally high mutual fund fees and to unplug you from the emotional part of the game.
The emotional part of the game -- greed, fear, trying to use your "instincts," trying to time the market via newsletters, TV experts, etc. -- can lead to a hyper-focus on the investing game (a compulsion that is no different than gambling at a casino) and often leads to financial disaster. Using indices and dollar cost averaging takes a good degree of both greed and fear out of the game.
For the "qualified" high-net-worth investor, hedge funds and funds of hedge funds are discussed in detail. I believe that hedged funds-of-funds can and should be at the core of a high-net-worth portfolio, not put at the satellite or fringe of a portfolio.
Protection of capital is critical for high-net-worth individuals and institutions. Profits must come with less risk. Low volatility, diversification and noncorrelation to market direction are at the heart of decreasing risk. There are very few voices advocating the use of funds of hedge funds as a core strategy. But I believe this is an overlooked and underused tool for those legally qualified to use it.
Lastly, the book talks about investing and money on a more personal level. One of the book's key concepts is "The End Game" -- a time when you don't have to play the investing game any more. Your focus can go elsewhere.
You can focus on creating more free time, more family time, more spiritual and/or creative time for yourself. Too many people continue on with the investing game far too long and skip right past the whole point of accumulating wealth: Spending all your time thinking about your money is a waste of the money!
Finding one's true place in the world, accessing more free time and spending time attempting to be a more conscious, creative person has some interesting side effects when it comes to investing and money: In that deeper state of mind, investing becomes a much easier game to win; winning every bet becomes much less of a blow to the ego; and measured decisions are easier to come by.
Most importantly, money finally stops being a burden and instead becomes the benefit to your life that it was always meant to be.
Gary Marks is highly regarded in the securities industry for his innovative work as the CEO and sole owner of Sky Bell Asset Management, an alternative investment firm with affiliated offices in Florida, New York and Hawaii. He founded Sky Bell in July 1999, and the firm now manages over $300 million. He is known for his ability to form risk-averse, multimanager strategies that have been successful in both bull and bear markets. He creates specifically targeted hedged funds of funds for qualified investors, and Sky Bell presently co-manages funds with asset management firms in London and Colorado. Simultaneously, Gary actively writes songs, sings, plays piano and guitar and records CDs of his original music. His 10th CD, "A Whisper Can Change the World," was released in February 2007.
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