The following foreword is by W. Scott Simon, author of The Prudent Investor Act: A Guide to Understanding
It’s my feeling that Guerdon Ely asked me to write this review for his book, Uncertainty is a Certainty: Fables for Fiduciaries, for two reasons. First, I’m a friend and colleague of his, and second, one of the books that I have written is The Prudent Investor Act: A Guide to Understanding. My book, coming in at just over 135,000 words, including (count ‘em) 997 footnotes, is a tome on modern prudent fiduciary investing. “Modern” prudent fiduciary investing began with publication of the Restatement (Third) of Trusts (Prudent Investor Rule) in 1992 and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act in 1994, and has continued since then with a large outpouring of legal model acts progeny. I have also been writing a monthly column for Morningstar called “Fiduciary Focus” since 2003. I figure that I’ve written over one-quarter million words for that column through the years, not to mention all the words in other articles that I have authored and co-authored.
All of this is to set the context for why I am so peeved at Guerdon. He has managed to convey in a few thousand words the meaning of modern prudent fiduciary investing in a way that I never could in hundreds of thousands of words. I cannot be sure, but as far as I know I’m the only person to have read my own book cover to cover and I don’t mind telling you that even for me it was a real struggle. Guerdon’s book, in contrast, is accessible to the average reader as well as to fiduciaries of all stripes - whether professional or amateur – as a book that they will actually want to read because it is highly informative and funny too. I’m sure that any fiduciary would rather learn about the ins and outs of modern prudent fiduciary investing with a smile on their face – and even the occasional outright belly-laugh – than to set out and endure the Death March of reading my writings on this vitally important subject.
Guerdon’s book couldn’t be more user-friendly as he takes you through all the major issues of modern prudent fiduciary investing. These include understanding what a trust document is, the meaning of Modern Portfolio Theory, the usefulness of an investment policy statement and the importance of following a prudent investment process. In addition, he covers the duty of care, the duty of skill, the duty of caution, the duty to invest in a portfolio context, the duty to determine the risk tolerance of a trust, the duty to ascertain the investment time horizon of a trust, the duty to manage and monitor investments and any investment agents retained, the duty to investigate, the fundamental duty to trade off risk and return in trust portfolios and a myriad of other duties. Guerdon always discusses these important duties with a humorous bent that helps contribute so much to actually understanding them.
I enthusiastically recommend Guerdon’s fine book to you and I am sure that you will thoroughly enjoy reading it as it deepens your understanding of modern prudent fiduciary investing. Heck, even if you have no interest at all in modern prudent fiduciary investing you will like this book. For example, Guerdon tells you – because he held a job where he actually did it - not only how to weigh honey bees but also how to place them in a package ready for shipping. No book on modern prudent fiduciary investing, that I know of, lets you in on that kind of information.