During my two year hiatus from television writing that I spent on Capitol Hill, I met dozens of exceptionally smart people and a handful of colossally ignorant ones.
A common quality shared by the smarties, unfortunately, is that they were often difficult to understand - at least for someone like me who relies on my nerdy eye wear to appear smarter than I really am.
That is why I was so pleased to meet Gordon Murray, a 25 year Wall Street veteran who came to Washington earlier this year to let Members of Congress in on a secret - Wall Street is playing them for chumps.
Gordon was invited by my boss (and his congresswoman), Rep. Jackie Speier of California, to deliver what he called The Last Lecture (so named because Gordon had been given just weeks to live, a prognosis he has, so far, bested). The Last Lecture, in five sections, can be seen here (1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5). In it, Gordon lays out how Wall Street views elected officials and the regulators they appoint with disdain and the steps Congress should take to help level the playing field.
The eye-opening event was praised by everyone in attendance and a number of us commented later on how great it would be if someone like Gordon gave a similar no-holds-barred lecture for ordinary investors. We knew that such a project from Gordon, however, was unlikely considering his deteriorating health.
But damn if he didn't go and do it! Much to the chagrin of stockbrokers and others who depend on the ignorance of their customers to get rich, Gordon has defied doctors and the grim reaper to stick around long enough to write, with Dan Goldie, a longtime financial advisor and President of Dan Goldie Financial Services, an absolute must-read book for anyone who has a nickel and would like it to become six cents someday.
The Investment Answer is a mercifully short book that succinctly answers the major questions that most of us have when it comes to finances. While, sadly, the authors did not address my number one question in regards to my personal wealth - "When will Hollywood return to paying television writers in the high six figures like they did when I started my career?" - they did cover just about everything else, including why it's foolish to handle your own investing, why it's better to have a financial advisor that works for you as opposed to a broker whose responsibility is to the firm, and what to make of the many investment alternatives out there.
Here's the bottom line on this book - Gordon has no axe to grind except putting real, no bullshit information out there for the public to consume before his time on earth is up. The book is all of 85 pages if you count the index, table of contents and blank pages. It takes about as long to read as "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" and will prove to be even more useful. In fact, you can call this, "Everything I'll Ever Need to Know about How to Keep the Bloodsuckers from Stealing my Money I Learned from a Sick Guy and his Friend."
Although, on second thought, The Investment Answer is probably a better title.