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Financial professionals play a big part in helping people make important financial choices. According to the 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey, the majority of participants (41%) prefer getting professional guidance when making investment decisions in their company retirement savings plans. The Vanguard Funds’ Advisor’s Alpha study also found that those who utilize a financial professional can increase their returns by 3% annually. But with more than 300,000 financial advisors employed in the United States, how does a financial advisor set oneself apart?
Read on for our picks of the best books for financial professionals, from titles on mutual fund investing to growth hacking to risk exploration.
Best Overall: The Intelligent Investor
Recommended by the Investopedia Financial Review Board, “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham has earned its place in the literary canon for financial titles, and with good reason. First published in 1949, it’s since been updated with a few modern takes, such as commentary and footnotes by financial journalist Jason Zweig. Still, the integrity of Graham’s wisdom remains, from the solidity of value investing to loss minimization to resisting emotional decision-making when navigating the financial markets. This classic read has sold more than a million copies worldwide and has earned ringing endorsements from Barron's.
Best for Anecdotal Advice: The Million-Dollar Financial Advisor
David J. Mullen Jr.’s “The Million-Dollar Financial Advisor” is a more personal approach to the industry, taking interviews with 15 top financial advisors and compiling it into 13 actionable lessons for financial professionals. These lessons focus on important tenets of the industry, such as building and maintaining client relationships. Mullen, a 30-year industry veteran, was a former managing director at Merrill Lynch.
Best for Mutual Fund Investors: Common Sense on Mutual Funds
John C. Bogle’s “Common Sense on Mutual Funds” has been established as something akin to gospel in the world of mutual funds. A mutual fund is an investment vehicle through which investors pool their money to invest in securities, usually stocks or bonds. They’re important in the investment world because they’re an easy way to diversify your portfolio in a more cost-effective way. Originally published in 1999, this updated version shares insights on everything from the basics of mutual fund investing to regulatory changes to how to build an investment portfolio with staying power. Bogle was the founder of The Vanguard Group, one of the largest investment companies in the world, as well as the author of “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” and “Enough.”
Best Expert Account: The Alchemy of Finance
George Soros’ “The Alchemy of Finance” offers readers a straightforward look at the financial markets today and the trends that drive them. Soros, who made his money by competing with the British pound, provides a glimpse into his decision-making process and investment strategies, plus his thoughts on the world that shaped them. This book also gives insight into Soros’ famed "theory of reflexivity,” which highlights how investors’ underlying beliefs affect their investment decisions. Dubbed "The Man Who Moves Markets" by Bloomberg Businessweek, Soros is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and chief investment advisor to the Quantum Group of Funds.
Best for Growth Hacking: The 10X Financial Advisor
Ideal for financial advisors who want to grow their businesses but aren’t sure how, Scott Winters’ “The 10X Financial Advisor” encourages financial professionals to run their businesses like, well, a business. His findings are based on the Quantum Leap Success Model, a method that will help financial advisors to not only grow their business but to sustain that growth. As the title suggests, the book explores how that one financial advisor at every firm who is 10 times more successful achieved that growth—and kept it going. An industry veteran and top financial advisor, Winters built a wealth management business from scratch, into more than $2 billion in assets with more than 20,000 clients.
Best for the Analytical Mind: The Quants
This New York Times bestseller is a fascinating journalistic exploration of the Wall Street crash of 2008—more specifically, the mathematicians, or “quants,'' behind it. In one of its most notable scenes, Scott Patterson’s tome begins with a high-stakes poker game played by the hedge fund managers of Wall Street and a comparison of their strategies both for investing and for playing poker. “The Quants” is an interesting juxtaposition of the quantitative approach to investing versus the Wall Street investors and all their swagger of yesteryear. And while supercomputers, complex algorithms, and seemingly guaranteed returns seem like better strategies, they don’t always work—the subprime mortgage crisis and market crash are proof of that. Patterson is a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and is also the author of “Dark Pools.”
Best for Advising Clients: Advice That Sticks
Giving good financial advice is only half the battle. Getting clients to listen is a whole other story. Neuropsychologist and financial change expert Dr. Moira Somers outlines the five major factors that determine whether or not a client will actually take your advice, also known as client compliance. These factors range from client psychology to sociocultural factors, even the emotional aspect of money. Another major factor? Financial advisors themselves. In “Advice That Sticks,” Somers details how financial professionals can avoid making key mistakes in advising clients, resulting in a better client relationship, higher returns, and for the advisors, better business growth.
Best Historic Account: Barbarians at the Gate
Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s “Barbarians at the Gate” chronicles the leveraged buyout—and subsequent fall—of RJR Nabisco. It’s an important read for financial professionals because it helps illustrate how LBOs transformed from a frowned-upon practice to something more commonplace today. This New York Times bestseller was based on several Wall Street Journal articles written by the authors and is widely considered one of the best business books ever written. It was later adapted into a TV movie directed by Glenn Jordan.
Best Exploration of Risk: Against the Gods
What is investing without risk? Peter L. Bernstein's “Against the Gods” offers an in-depth exploration of just that, from gamblers in ancient Greece to probability games in the Renaissance era to the lessons left behind by some of history’s greatest mathematicians. Of course, as a Business Week and New York Times Business bestseller, this book also covers the risk and probability of playing the financial markets, making it a must-read for financial professionals and novice investors alike. Bernstein has written nine books, is an economic consultant, and the publisher of Economics and Portfolio Strategy.
“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham earns our top pick for its classic take on investing principles that every financial professional should be well-versed in. Think value investing, loss minimization, and how to profit from the emotional irrationality of other investors.
Why Trust Investopedia?
These books were chosen based on a variety of factors, including the author's subject matter expertise. Rachel Morgan Cautero has more than a decade of journalism experience, most in the personal finance sector. Most recently, she was the managing editor of DailyWorth, a finance-based media destination for women. She selected books based on author credentials, reader reviews, and any relevant awards, as well as recommendations from the Investopedia Financial Review Board.