What every investor needs to hear.

Foolish: How Investors Get Worked Up and Worked Over By The System

Ex-Wall Street broker turned fee-only fiduciary, Gil Baumgarten, has written the book that will raise some eyebrows from his former colleagues. In his 25 years of being a top producer for his big-name Wall Street firms, Baumgarten constantly found himself in lock-horns with management. The reason? The firms build rules in their ecosystem to butter their own bread and wrestle the “gray areas” from clients and back into their own pockets. Baumgarten’s journey through the ranks of the firms took him through management where he saw the inner workings of the business and the narratives they build to feed the machine with scraping and siphoning; all legal, but not always ethical.

Baumgarten’s storytelling kicks into high gear later in the book when he shifts his focus to how investors make decisions and are hard-wired to harm their own results by focusing on how things make them feel. He then lays out how investors should maintain their perspective and develop an attitude and aptitude for taking risks.

These insights developed through Baumgarten’s 40 years of navigating the twists, turns and traps are precisely why some of Houston’s wealthiest families have entrusted him with the task of advocating for their success. These are also why Barron’s and Forbes have ranked Gil a Top-20 Advisor in Texas and Top-5 in Houston. Baumgarten makes convincing arguments for following a particular path toward optimizing outcomes and he leads investors to walk away from the Foolish routes investors so often take.

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Quotes from the book

"I don't like "suitable" either, and neither should you. You might remember when AT&T rolled out a relatable suite of commercials likening cell service to other areas of life such as sushi, surgery and tattoos where "good enough" just isn't good enough. I would add financial advice to the list, but hey, I'm biased. There are some things that simply demand a higher level of excellence."

"If you can honestly and accurately assess who you are, and what you want, you will save yourself from a world of trouble. And the cherry on top - those who are willing to take this honest look at themselves typically end up with the money that formerly belonged to those who have not done so."

"Skilled advisors are often very good at telling others what to do with their money because they are more emotionally apathetic about the outcome. I often envision this as an old western movie with a fighting duel. The one who snatches his gun and fires first without thinking is usually the victor. Aiming would not only give a time disadvantage, but it would also allow him some time to think of the enormity of our situation and start shaking. That shaky cowboy couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. Nerves of steel? Cool as a cucumber? Call it what you will, emotional detachment is advantageous under stress."

"Investors should be prepared for curveballs before they even get up to the plate. They have to understand that the real game is played by bunting and hitting singles, and even being willing to get hit by the ball a time or two. If you want to score runs, do it this way. Unfortunately, most people want to stand up and swing hard at every pitch so they can be the next Babe Ruth and break all the home run records. But that isn't the way to score runs and win ball games. In the end, portfolios will stand the test of time by how many runs we score, not by how many home runs we hit."

"A proper advisor will coach you in off the ledge when the timing is right for that, and make you stick to your knitting when the going gets tough. They are built-in accountability, keeping you out of trouble. They are a delegated repository for your angst, keeping you from acting on the incessant threats. They watch out for the fine print, keeping you from falling into fee and tax traps. An advisor can serve as an intermediary for couples who have opposing mindsets on risk and reward, and they can provide continuity, an advice bridge for clients who die unexpectedly. Above all, they are the one responsible for thinking about what one should be doing next, and doing so impartially, and in the clients’ best interest."

"We must deal with the gap between perception and reality and the true underlying question of risk-appetite under duress."


"FOOLISH tells it like it is. I've tried managing my money myself; I've tried enlisting brokerage firms to help, and I've tried to manage my money myself once again. I had neither the time nor expertise to devote to doing so. My journey has culminated in identifying someone whom I trust, who embraces the concepts outlined in this text, and who has the knowledge and expertise to execute a plan consistent with my vision."

— Hussein Elkousy, MD

"I am blessed to represent some of the country's best investment managers. Very few firms have amassed, and continue to manage assets, as efficiently as Segment."

— Thomas D. Giachetti, Esquire, Chairman, Stark & Stark

"This priceless assembly of observations and remedies will save you years of agony and disappointment with your investments. Read this and follow this playbook."

— Dudley Oldham, retired Senior Partner, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP

"Life teaches us that "due diligence" is necessary in all that we do. Regarding responsible investing FOOLISH has done the due diligence for you."

— Mike Calvert, President of Mike Calvert Toyota

"FOOLISH puts a magnifying glass to the issues that have driven clients like me and advisors like Gil out of the brokerage world. Wealthy investors who are truly focused on the long term would be wise to follow the path Gil lays out. His perspective, especially when applied to investment strategy over a lifetime is sure to not only reduce heartache and frustration, but also generate superior returns."

— Mike Walen, Former COO, Cabot Oil and Gas

"Throughout my years as an investor, I have come to believe that our performance in the midst of risk is the result of our actions and behaviors in the bad times as opposed to the good times. That's what this book hit home for me. The ideas reiterated, again and again, show that consistency and a common-sense approach to investing are what will position investors to succeed."

— Randy Limbacher, former COO, Burlington Resources
Gil's Musings

Learn about the world of investing from an industry veteran. Gil's Musings are inspired by Gil's thoughts on timely finance topics, stock market trends and the psychology behind smart investments.

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