Review: The Rules of Wealth by Richard Templar

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The Rules of Wealth by Richard Templar book cover
The Rules of Wealth (2006) aims to distil the mindset and strategies of the super-wealthy into an easy-to-follow set of rules that might lead anyone to personal prosperity. There are one hundred rules in total, and these are split across five sections; Thinking Wealthy, Getting Wealthy, Get Even Wealthier, Staying Wealthy, Sharing Your Wealth.

The book’s strength is its breadth rather than its depth - the rules are intended to shape one’s financial behaviour without delving into the minutiae of its recommendations. In this aspect The Rules of Wealth is really made up of information about information, with very few specifics given. In addition to this, the information that is provided could quite easily be condensed into a far smaller number of pages, somewhere in the region of 20-30 one might suggest. Repetition, over-elaboration, and an unashamed amount of filler (blank spaces, unnecessary quotation boxes on every rule which reiterate a sentence you’ve just read, and the final 10% of the book being given over to advertising for other titles in the range, etc.), all become tedious and only prove to emphasise the lack of content.

One of the other key issues with the book is its lack of a defined target audience. Most financial development books are aimed at either the individual, or at the entrepreneur. In trying to appeal to the widest possible audience the book does neither satisfactorily. Indeed, there are times when this causes an internal dissonance. For example, on the matter of loans. While for an individual, personal loans are normally financially unwise, for an entrepreneur a business loan is an ideal form of leveraging. Whilst it’s possible to sit these two viewpoints side-by-side it creates a rather jumbled and somewhat imprecise feel.

The writing is fairly easy to read (with a few provisos) and there is no unnecessary use of technical language which might intimidate the amateur economist. However, the proof reading is shocking. One cannot read more than five pages without hitting a glaring grammatical or simple spelling error. For many this won’t spoil the experience, but one would expect better from a big publishing house, and the sloppiness adds to the general sense that due attention has not been given to the work as a whole. On the other hand, Richard Templar comes across as a well-grounded and self-effacing individual (despite his constant need to identify with the reader, leading to some extremely contradictory self-observations), his writing is personable and he acts as a wholly amiable narrator.

Whilst the information contained in The Rules of Wealth is nothing one couldn’t find on a good financial blog, the attempt to codify a set of wealth rules is admirable. Sadly, the organisation of the book is not always logical, some rules prove repetitive, others make very one-sided or dubious arguments, and the rest are so tepid and middle of the road that they become little better than useless. Templar’s moral code provides a refreshing backdrop to the financial advice as does his endorsement of hard work, although his business ethics don’t appear to extend as far as his personal ones (e.g. Rule 87: Don’t Surrender Equity, Rule 91: Don’t lend, take equities. Hmm, win/win?). It’s only a small point, but if one is portrayed as moralistic surely one should treat people as one expects to be treated? (nb. I’d happily take either without the other from an objective point of view - it’s the contradiction that irks not the morals).

The Rules of Wealth’s simplicity is probably one of its most salient selling points, the rules Templar has gathered together, whilst unlikely to make anyone extremely wealthy, certainly provide some basic financial pointers to keep your money life in good order.

This was an incredibly easy read, which took only a few hours to get through. I don’t claim to have the expertise that Richard Templar has in this field, but I do count myself as relatively competent when it comes to saving and investing, and have read a range of financial help books over the past few years (who hasn’t? Recession ahh!), with which to compare The Rules of Wealth. Normally when reading a development book like this I stick a post-it note in any page that provides some really useful information so that I can go back to it, my marked pages normally number twenty to thirty - often more! On this occasion? None. Counting myself as an average amateur economist at best this strikes me as a pretty bad return (on the plus side I saved a fortune on post-it notes so maybe it does work!). For the complete beginner there are better introductions to personal finance, for everyone else this isn’t worth the investment.

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