“Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook” is Tony Robbins’ latest book on the topic of money. The first section offers seven “Freedom Facts” which can be summarized in three key points: 1. Although no one can predict what will happen in the short term, the stock market tends to rise over time and historically there has been a market “correction” (which is when the stock market drops by at least 10%) once a year, on average. 2. Most corrections will not turn into a bear market (which is when the market drops by 20% or more). 3. Once in a bear market, things can change very quickly and unexpectedly, which is why it’s important to remain invested in the market at all times.
Many of the topics covered in “Unshakeable” have been discussed in detail in Robbins’ previous book, “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom“. For example, he dedicates a significant portion of the book to investment fees, the inability to beat the market, and finding advisors who are fiduciaries. Readers of his prior book will not find a lot of new material in this one. In “Unshakeable”, Robbins exposes the fact that some fiduciaries are dually registered as brokers and may therefore not always abide by the fiduciary standard, which is a valid point. However, the question of whether someone is a fiduciary is even more complex than the way it is discussed in the book. For example, there are actually several different types of fiduciary financial advisors (such as SEC fiduciaries, DoL fiduciaries, and CFP fiduciaries), each with their own set of obligations.
The second half of the book dives into Robbins’ specialty: the psychology of money and investing. In fact, he is listed as the chief of investor psychology at Creative Planning Inc. in the book’s legal disclosure. Some of the psychology information will be of little value to investors, as it does not relate to money or investing (chapter 9, for example, offers a guided meditation to change your emotional state).
New investors will find good information to minimize their 401(k) fees, as well as seven questions to ask a prospective financial advisor before hiring him or her. Index funds are heavily promoted throughout the book, which is good information for new investors. It should be noted that most of this information had already been covered in Robbins’ earlier book. The first chapter of “Unshakeable” also emphasizes the importance of getting Millennials to invest in the stock market, which is great.
Although the book promotes itself as a “step-by-step guide to money mastery”, it doesn’t really offer a specific place to start beyond its recommendation to hire a fiduciary and invest in index funds. Readers will have to comb through many pages of general investing principles, rather than simple steps that can be immediately applied. Unfortunately, “Unshakable” focuses a great deal on the psychological aspects of money and too little on the specific how-to steps.
How practical is the information “Unshakeable”?
Inveduco rating: C
For a “step-by-step guide”, this book is lacking in specifics. For example, the topic of asymmetric risk/reward is brought up, however, no clear instructions are provided for individual investors to achieve it on their own. Instead, Robbins provides an example from his own investments, along with some general principles, which cannot easily be replicated by the average investor.
How sound is the advice in the book?
Inveduco rating: A-
The book provides good advice overall. Some of the examples in the book might be a bit extreme, such as using a 50-year investing timeline to show that a 2% annual fee can reduce a portfolio by up to 67%. Having said that, the investing principles in the book are sound and reasonable.
Does the book live up to its claims?
Inveduco rating: C
Many readers will benefit from the “unshakeable” mindset promoted throughout the book. Specifically, corrections and bear markets are inevitable. While they are unpleasant, they are nothing to be feared, based on historical data. The book does a great job of reminding readers that they should remain calm when other investors are panicking.
The biggest disappointment in the book is the lack of simple step-by-step instructions, which other authors have managed to achieve (see a book like “The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated” for comparison).
Inveduco rating: C+
The first few chapters contain useful guidelines for readers wishing to start investing. Unfortunately, it does not provide a recommended portfolio (unlike in his first book), which forces readers to look elsewhere for the specifics. The appendix contains good information, although most of it pertains more to estate planning and insurance than investing for retirement. Overall, this book is a good starting point. Many readers, however, will have to look elsewhere for more practical steps.
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