Larry Light's Tips on Taming the Wall Street Beast

Wall Street
Wall Street

With the U.S. and European debt crises, concern about a double-dip recession and some lingering numbness from the market woes of a few short years ago, these are uncertain times. And investors are looking for investment strategies that will lead to wealth amid all the uncertainty.

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But to be successful, you should forget the notion of getting rich quick. Fast and furious doesn't work on Wall Street, and neither does putting all your investing chips in one pot. If you want to be a successful investor, think long term and be ambidextrous. At least according to Larry Light, a former editor at The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek and author of the new book, Taming the Beast: Wall Street's Imperfect Answers to Making Money.

To "tame the beast" that is Wall Street, savvy investors must be nimble, understand a myriad of investment strategies and know when and how to use them, he writes. His book includes a primer of sorts on the power and pitfalls of value- and growth-investing strategies, as well as of investing in real estate, hedge funds, bonds, currencies, commodities and oversees investments.

It's All About Diversity

Taming the beast is about diversity, Light suggests, which isn't as easy to achieve as you might think. Many strategies must be explored to get to that blessed state where you can say, "I've got plenty of money to sustain me, thank God," he writes. The trick is to be sufficiently flexible to dip into any or all of them, but, by the same token, to know each strategy's limitations.

Light contends that successful investing doesn't require a fancy MBA from an expensive university, "It's not quantum physics," he says. But it does require intelligence and diligence. You have to put in some study time, read everything and watch for trends and opportunities. Figure out what investments appeal to you and under what conditions they thrive, he advises. Ask questions, talk to people and ponder, he says.

What could be the worst move for investors right now? Letting emotions rule. "Don't follow the herd," he says. "If everybody is doing something, it must be right? Wrong."

Check out this video to get more of Light's wisdom on taming the beast: