"The Ulysses Contract" by Mike Kemp: A Pragmatic Approach to Investing and Avoiding Technological Hype

by Bruce (265826 views)
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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

"The Ulysses Contract" by Mike Kemp presents a compelling argument against active fund management and encourages readers to adopt a more prudent investment strategy. Throughout the book, Kemp emphasizes that active fund managers consistently fail to outperform the market, even before factoring in their fees. Instead, he advocates for investing in index funds with low expense ratios, allowing investors to align their financial goals with a more reliable and proven approach.



The author highlights the historical pattern of technological innovation, drawing parallels between past advancements and the ever-changing landscape of investment options. Kemp points out that throughout history, technology has constantly evolved, and new inventions have often been regarded as groundbreaking. From the steam engine to early search engines, many innovations promised to revolutionize their respective fields. However, in many cases, the initial excitement surrounding these advancements eventually subsided, and only a few dominant players emerged as true game-changers. For instance, Google, which emerged as the preeminent search engine, surpassed its predecessors.


Based on this observation, Kemp cautions readers not to get swept away by the allure of every new "technology" promising to change the world of investing. He argues that controlling emotions and avoiding impulsive decisions are vital when considering investment opportunities. Instead of succumbing to hype, he encourages investors to focus on long-term, evidence-based strategies that have proven to be reliable over time.


Kemp’s advice on using financial advisors for investment is to check their fees. Investors should consider whether they charge a one-off fee or a percentage of the funds being managed. It is important to take note of the management fee and annual fee. A fund that charges 1.5% based on the net asset value managed on a yearly basis can be detrimental. Assuming a fund has an annualized return of 6%, a 1.5% fee will result in a net return of only 4.5%. One would be better off choosing a low-cost index fund that tracks the S&P 500, which has had an annualized return of 12.15% for the last 10 years.



The key takeaway from "The Ulysses Contract" is the recommendation to invest in index funds with low expense ratios. These funds are designed to track a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, and offer broad market exposure. By investing in index funds, investors can take advantage of the overall growth of the market rather than relying on individual fund managers' ability to consistently beat the market.