Imagine your typical investment book – a book full of concepts and then 3-5 case studies per concept to back up the author’s example. This book is not that. In fact, it’s fiction. But I believe it’s fiction with an asterisk.
The Rebel Allocator follows a protagonist, Nick, around while he learns about business and capital allocation from a mentor, the “Wizard of Wichita.” This is supposed to be a work of fiction that teaches capital allocation. Except there are two major issues with the book: 1) the story is so damn implausible, and 2) the book’s lessons are not original, in fact, they border on plagiarism.
Nick has a journalism degree and miraculously gets an entry level job offer at a private equity firm. Not the most likely outcome, but somewhat plausible. At his job, he struggles mightily and his employer tells him to go to business school. With one week of prep, he crams and scores in the 90th percentile on the GMAT. Not only is that not plausible, especially with a journalism background, it’s insulting to those who have banged away for hours for the GMAT/GRE/LSAT. From there, he wins a raffle to go to Wichita and meet Mr. X aka the “Wizard of Wichita.” We later find out he was selected on purpose to win the raffle and write a biography for Mr. X. This was sloppily covered up with Mr. X revealing he selected Nick to write his profile, hence covering up the implausible. At the end of the book, Nick inherits just enough money to do whatever he wants from Mr. X, passes up a promotion at work for a six-figure job, and goes off to start a fund investing in good capital allocators. Dare I say, implausible? Also, I am going to write an out of place sentence right here telling you he made love by a waterfall to a woman. Does that sentence seem random? Well, that’s how the story of his courting a woman went. People aren’t buying a book about capital allocation to hear about the author’s fantasies.
Here is my real problem with the book: it is almost incomprehensibly unoriginal. Here are some of the topics discussed: float, circle of competence, strategic expenses, focusing on return on invested capital (ROIC), living by your inner scorecard, never buying an IPO, a wife not being able to stand being in a small Midwestern city and going off to live on her own, and CEOs having big egos and making senseless acquisitions? Does any of that sound familiar? Yes! You know why? Because not a single bit of it is original. You can find all that and more in The Snowball by Alice Schroeder and Warren Buffet’s shareholder letters. I am sure Taylor meant well, but this book is not original. Let me flip the table. If I turned this book in as a thesis for any graduate program with a shred of dignity and it was run through a site like turnitin.com, my ass would be kicked out of school for rampant plagiarism.
Overall, Taylor’s work has a powerful effect. Despite my clear displeasure with it, I am still talking about it and publicizing my thoughts on it. The story does read quick and effortlessly – if you can get beyond rolling your eyes at the typos and bad B story. This book is definitely worth a read as long as you know it is fiction with an asterisk.
Buy The Rebel Allocator: https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Allocator-Jacob-Taylor/dp/173268832X