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The Idle Investor

How to Invest 5 Minutes a Week and Beat the Professionals

By Edmund Shing

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The Idle Investor

How to Invest 5 Minutes a Week and Beat the Professionals

By Edmund Shing

Jacket text

3 simple strategies to earn high returns and beat the professionals

Would you like to use a simple, low-risk investing system that beats market indexes and fund manager performance over the long term, but requires only a few minutes of your time each month? Does it sound like a lot of hard work? It’s not – even the laziest investor can achieve it.

The Idle Investor includes three straightforward DIY strategies for long-term investing. All you have to do is follow the simple rules. Each method requires only a limited amount of your time and they all make use of easily accessible, low-cost funds. The reasons why the strategies work and everything else you need to know to put them into practice is explained clearly, with numerous worked examples.

The three strategies are:

1. The Bone Idle Strategy: Part of your portfolio is allocated to shares and part is allocated to bonds, with adjustments only required twice a year. The rest of the time you do nothing.

2. The Summer Hibernation Strategy: For part of the year your portfolio is allocated to shares and for part of the year it is allocated to bonds. Once again, adjustments to the portfolio are only required twice per year. The rest of the time you do nothing.

3. Multi-Asset Trending Strategy: A simple trend-following method determines whether to hold your portfolio in shares or bonds. For this strategy you will need to check your investments and make adjustments once a month.

Even on the very few occasions each year when action is required – twice a year for strategies 1 and 2, and once a month for strategy 3 – you’ll only spend a few minutes checking your portfolio and making simple changes. The activity levels range from yearly rebalancing, for the laziest investor, through to monthly reallocation, for those who are more active. How much you do depends on how lazy you are feeling.

Testing the three Idle Investor strategies for the period 1990 to 2012 resulted in average annual returns of up to 28%. Compare this to a buy-and-hold approach of investing in UK shares, which would have delivered 8.5% per year over the same period, and you can see that being idle doesn’t mean being unsuccessful!

If you are looking for a straightforward investing method that lets you get on with your life while your money grows in the background, then become an Idle Investor.

About the author

Edmund Shing is a Global Equity portfolio manager at BCS Asset Management, focusing on a combination of high-level investment themes and fundamental stock-picking. Edmund has previously worked at Barclays Capital (as Head of European Equity Strategy), BNP Paribas (as a Prop Trader), Julius Baer, Schroders and Goldman Sachs over a 19-year career in financial markets based in Paris and London. He also holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Birmingham. You can follow him on Twitter @TheIdleInvestor and his website - featuring regular market commentary and investing thoughts - can be found at


“As someone naturally curious about financial markets and investing, I read The Idle Investor with interest. Shing has done an excellent job of translating bold, theoretical approaches to portfolio construction into strategies easily understood by the personal investor.”

– Cameron Ho, Fidelity Personal Investing

“A fascinating book”

– Dan Coatsworth, Editor, Shares magazine

“What should be praised about this book is that Edmund has the ability to express very difficult concepts to the layman in plain and simple English. For someone steeped in academia and quant finance this is an exceptional skill to have developed, and a credit to the years heâ??s spent getting his message across through writing and broadcasting. The Idle Investor could act as a refresher for seasoned investors, or a working template to novice passive investors. It’s a brief and easily read addition to any stock market or ETF investor’s library and comes highly recommended.”

– Ed Page-Croft, CEO, Stockopedia

The Idle Investor is a fantastic self-help guide for readers who would like to invest successfully in financial markets, which can often be very perplexing for both professionals and amateurs. Using concise language, Dr. Shing began by going through the key investment concepts that everyone should know. He then looked at the main risk and return characteristics in each of the major asset classes (equities, bonds, cash and property) and how you can use that knowledge to build your own winning strategies.

What I enjoyed most about the book is its clarity. Dr. Shing explained everything in simple, everyday English and highlighted the most important investing truths along the way. Towards the end of the book, he spelt out how Joe Bloggs can outperform the market in the current low interest-rate, volatile environment, only by following some simple rules of thumb.

It was a real pleasure to read this book; I actually managed to read it from cover to cover within 2 days! I believe the book is suited to both professionals and amateurs who are keen on following disciplined but effective investment strategies!”

– Daniel Ung, CFA, CAIA, FRM, Research & Product Design S&P DOW JONES INDICES

The Idle Investor is well pitched for the intended audience, and the clarity of the first 3 chapters in particular gets that message across. I would have no hesitation in recommending the book to anyone I know who is not a full time financial services professional. In addition, I’d go as far as to say that I can think of many people I’ve worked with over the years in financial services, who’d benefit from reading it as well!

The strategies themselves are well laid out, and providing a 1 page summary at the end of each strategy is a big help for readers starting out in the business of DIY investing. Considering the complexity of the subject matter for non financial people (am under no illusions that it’s almost a foreign language for many), Edmund does a pretty good job of making the points in a straightforward manner. Also, by highlighting potential problems with the strategies, I think this gives the book a greater degree of credibility. Any reader looking to find a ‘perfect’ solution for investment has missed the point by this stage anyway.

The final part of the book is also very helpful, with the references section alone being worth the price of admission. To have a concise summary of the best resources for DIY investment work will save readers an enormous amount of time, and I would imagine that for many readers, this will provide a framework to make starting their investment journey considerably easier.

Overall, very impressed. If investment was actually taught in schools at all, can see that this would be a perfect investment primer for teenagers after being taught the basics. Not the aim of the book obviously, but a point worth making.”

– Matt Patterson, private investor

Media coverage

From Interactive Investor:

VIDEO: Edmund Shing speaks to Interactive Investor about his new book The Idle Investor.

Read More…

From Fidelity Investments Book of the Month:

There are arguably two broad categories of investor, each with its own appetite for conducting research, accepting risk, and navigating the complexity of financial markets. There are those who pore through Investor?s Chronicle and the like, keeping abreast of the markets and building a portfolio of stocks and bonds in the hope of achieving superior… Read more »

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From Stockopedia:

A couple of months ago an excellent book, The Idle Investor, was published through Harriman House by a writer that Stockopedia subscribers will by now be very familiar with? the irrepressible Edmund Shing. Calling Edmund a writer does a huge dis-service to this man?s multi-faceted skill set. He?s an Artificial Intelligence PhD, equity quant, global… Read more »

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From International Business Times:

Banks are not exactly popular companies these days. At a cocktail party, I think that I would rather claim to be a maths teacher than a banker, so low is the stock of bankers. I have a strong suspicion that bankers rank above lawyers, estate agents, and traffic wardens in the list of most-hated professions!… Read more »

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From International Business Times:

Wednesday 8 July sees Chancellor George Osborne deliver his first purely Conservative Budget – the first in 19 years! What surprises could he spring on the great British public? I think that Osborne will have three main targets: 1. He will use some cash from higher tax revenues to ease back on his projected spending… Read more »

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From What Investment:

Win a prize in our crossword competition

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From International Business Times:

Is the party finally over for the world’s largest economy? No, I am not talking about the United States, but rather China. And before you start complaining about my facts; yes, China is officially the world’s largest economy according to a recent World Bank report. Chinese shares have been on a tear since the middle… Read more »

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From The Independent:

That investing business can be hard work, can’t it? Keeping a close eye on your portfolio can leave little time to do anything else, especially when shares and funds are being traded 24 hours a day. But how about a strategy where you only need to take action twice a year? A new book has… Read more »

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From IG Trading / New.Markets TV:

In this first video of a new series, the Business Book Club, fund manager Edmund Shing explains his three simple strategies to earn high returns and beat the professionals. Shing, global equity portfolio manager at BCS Asset Management in Paris, outlines his simple, low-risk investing system that beats market indices and fund manager performance over… Read more »

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About the author

Part A. Basic Principles
Chapter 1. The Long Path To These Investing Systems
Chapter 2. How Is It Possible To Be An Idle Investor? Quite Easily...
Chapter 3. Why You Should Not Give Your Money To A Fund Manager

Part B. Investment Building Blocks
Chapter 4. Our Investment Building Blocks: Shares, Bonds And Cash
Chapter 5. Beat The Share Market Without Breaking Sweat
Chapter 6. The Foundations Of The Three Idle Investor Strategies

Part C. 3 Idle Investor Strategies
Chapter 7. Investing Strategy 1: The Bone Idle Strategy
Chapter 8. Investing Strategy 2: The Summer Hibernation Strategy
Chapter 9. What Mechanical Investing System Works Best?
Chapter 10. Investing Strategy 3: Multi-Asset Trending Strategy
Chapter 11. Six Key Investment Trends For the Future
Chapter 12. Idle Investor Maxims

Appendix. Useful sources of financial information

Published: 20/04/2015
Edition: 1st
Pages: 184
Formats: paperback - ISBN 9780857193810
ebook - ISBN 9780857194817
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