The question of the day: How much do you really need to know in order to be a successful investor?
Throughout North America, it’s the start of the school year, and my new course on personal investing is being taught for the first time at Western Washington University. Students will get almost 40 hours of classroom time, and a roughly equal amount of homework, to prepare themselves for the rest of their lives.
I am not teaching the course, but I have been involved in its inception financially, emotionally and intellectually. The class, part of Western’s College of Business and Economics, is called Personal Investing; how’s that for a catchy name?
Lots of university classes are about theory and understanding. This one has some of that, of course, but its main goal is to change the students’ lives. The university has agreed to do a six-year follow-up study of how well the class succeeds in that goal — and of course I will be keenly interested in knowing the outcome.
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In consulting with the faculty about this over the past year and a half, I’ve given a lot of thought to how much an investor really needs to know in order to get off on the right foot.