In this introduction I’d like to talk with you briefly about your investments, your financial future, and your quality of life. That will prepare you to get the most out of this book.

In 29 years as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, I’ve seen enormous changes in the markets, the financial services industry, and even my own firm. A key objective of my professional career during those years has been to guide and educate clients. The downturn that began in mid-2007 has made me even more determined to use my experience to help simplify the investment process and offer practical advice that anyone would find valuable.

In the past you may have come to rely on what you considered conventional wisdom in your pursuit of successful investing. ...

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