Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever by Robin Wigglesworth - review by Ian Fraser

Ian Fraser

Fortune Favours the Passive

Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever

By

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There has been a tectonic shift in the world of investment in the past half-century. It has probably passed the average lay person by, but trillions of pounds of investors’ cash has flowed out of so-called ‘active’ funds – ones that are overseen by handsomely rewarded fund managers, who are supposed to use their brain power to choose where clients’ money should be invested – and into much cheaper ‘passive’ funds, which are overseen by computers and clerical staff and spread investors’ cash around so that their investments mirror particular stock market or bond market indices. In Trillions, the Financial Times’s global finance correspondent Robin Wigglesworth tells the story of this quiet revolution, describing it as ‘one of the most profound forces to rip through the finance industry in history’ and as a development that ‘could ultimately help reshape capitalism itself’.

Part investment history, part paean to the godfathers of index tracking, the book opens with the story of a high-stakes bet made in 2007 between the billionaire investor Warren Buffett and a successful hedge fund manager named Ted Seides. Buffett bet that an automated fund would make more

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