Author Interview: Russell Wild

Russell Wild is the author of Investing in Bonds for Dummies which this month was featured as the #2 best bond investing book on Financial Expert.

I approached Russell for a short interview after this news was announced in early Feb.

I’m delighted to report that he kindly accepted. I’m able to share the interview below. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Russell has penned more than just this flagship title, so check out his other titles below as well.

If you’re interested in what you read here, you can hear more from Russell by visiting his website or browsing his author page on Amazon.

Russell’s books fall under the following genres:

Interview with Russell Wild

Russell Wild

Please could you tell us a little about your professional background and why you felt inspired to write the book?

Russell: I have an MBA in finance from way back, worked for a short time as a credit analyst for a large bank, and then went into journalism for many years. I covered many beats, winding up as a freelance financial journalist. When newspapers started to lay off thousands of writers, the business got overly competitive, and freelancers’ incomes took a tumble. I had also become aware, painfully aware, through my writing and research, that most small investors regularly get fleeced by Wall Street. My path became clear. I went back to school for a graduate certificate in financial planning and became a fee-only financial advisor. That was almost 20 years ago.. Around that same time, ETFs made their appearance, and I started using them in my portfolios; this was long before they were cool.

I pitched a book on ETFs to Wiley Publishing, which does the Dummies series, and they went for it. At the time, hardly anyone had heard of ETFS. After writing Investing in ETFs for Dummies, I pitched Bond Investing for Dummies (the 3rd edition of which got renamed “Investing in Bonds for Dummies”).

I wanted to write a book on bonds because bonds are deliciously complex — much moreso than stocks — and so many people, I came to realize, fail to grasp even the fundamentals, such as the playoff between bond yield and bond prices. 

This title is a guide suitable for beginners. What drove you to write such a comprehensive guide compared to a more specialist title?

Russell: I work with everyday investors, and I’m in touch with what they know, what they don’t know, and wish they knew. Many of my clients are of the age where their portfolios need to lean conservative, and that’s where bonds play a crucial role. In fact, there is no other time-proven instrument for shaving risk off a portfolio like bonds. Bonds, especially nowadays with the traditional company pension having largely gone by the wayside, are going to help pave the way for the Boomer Generation to retire. 

In the course of researching and writing your book – did you come across anything that surprised you?

Russell: I suppose the big surprise for me, because I never gave it much thought before, was the sheer size of the bond market. Worldwide, we’re talking more than $100 trillion in bonds out there….versus roughly $68 trillion in stocks. Surprising when you consider how much ink is given to stock markets, and how little to bonds. Stocks make headlines with great regularity; bonds get little more coverage in the press than does badminton. 

For budding financial writers, what is the one piece of advice would you give to those writing to educate beginners about investing?

Russell: Well, it’s easier for me to answer this question by suggesting to budding financial writers something they should not do: Don’t pretend that you have great clairvoyant skills and that you can predict the future. You can’t.

Ninety percent of financial “journalism” consists of predictions that are pure bullshit….”10 Best Stocks for the New Year!”….”Stock market to see biggest fall ever!”….”NOW is the time to buy!”

Markets are unpredictable and such crystal-ball reading does people harm. Anyone who says he can predict the future of markets is a self-deluded fool, or a liar, or a so-called journalist trying to get online hits. Be something else. Please. 

And finally, I like to ask all authors; when saving and investing your own money, what is your preferred investing style?

Russell: Me? I’m nearly all in index funds….ETFs and mutual funds….Currently 50/50 (stocks/bonds) and 50/50 (U.S./non-U.S.) with a gentle lean toward value in large caps, and a more aggressive lean in small caps. I have a modest holding in one market-neutral fund. And occasionally, I’ll have as much as 10 per cent of my portfolio in closed-end funds selling at a deep discount. I bought up a few of these babies back in April when the market tumbled and discounts skyrockets, I’ve sold off most as optimism returned to the markets and the big discounts began to vanish. 

A selection of Russell Wild’s published works

Russell Wild has published three titles under the Wiley ‘… For Dummies’ imprint:

  • Investing in bonds for dummies
  • Investing in ETFs for dummies
  • Index investing for dummies

As you’ll see below, Russell has received excellent reviews (4.4/5.0) for each of his titles.

Investing in bonds for dummies

Rated 4.4/5.0 on Amazon with 50 reviews at the time of writing. Investing in bonds for dummies is currently in its third edition.

Investing in ETFs for dummies

Investing in ETFs For Dummies by [Russell Wild]

Rated 4.4/5.0 on Amazon with over 100 reviews.

Index investing for dummies

Index Investing For Dummies by [Russell Wild]

Rated 4.4/5.0 on Amazon with 59 reviews at the time of writing.

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