The book, The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause, talks about business strategy and "how personal financial empowerment has made everyone a winner."
I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but here's what the reviewers at Amazon are saying:
This book got me thinking about why everyone mimics everyone else in business. Why do all banks act the same way (have branches, credit cards, ATMs, car loans, checking accounts, etc.)? For that matter, why do almost all car dealerships, or department stores, airlines, etc. act in the smae way?
Arkadi Kuhlmann has provided his own answer by trashing some of the sacred practices of established banks and creating a new company that is wildly successful by standing for something in the face of the customer.
Thomas A. Farin "Bank Consultant":
I expected to be told most of what I already knew. Instead I found it full of insight on ING Direct's core principals, its branding strategy, its thought process behind its maverick behavior, management communication and a number of things I hadn't thought about. Those things are core to an outstanding success story.
If you intend to reinvent your business it is a 'must read'. I will be ordering a copy for each of our staff members to prepare those willing to make the committment for a planning retreat in which we intend to reinvent our business. I suggest you do the same.
Have you had a chance to read it yet? I'm going to get a copy and, when I finish, will review it here.
Savers might be interested in a new book by Peter Gosselin titled High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families, which is a journalistic collection of essays with a common theme: America has growing economic risk and personal insecurity to go with its economic growth.
Chapters cover a selection of the new risks by using individual interviews and case studies as examples of the growing threats to personal finance.
Topics feature private sector issues that have slowly evolved through changes in practices and attitudes, especially the attitude that Americans should fend for themselves. As Gosselin notes, changes tend to take place without notice or public debate. Instead, changes come as a surprise to people who think they have something — career, pension, insurance — when they do not.
Chapters on insurance use material from interviews to illustrate the new methods and practices insurers are using to limit coverage and shift losses and risks to individuals. A chapter titled "Benefits" covers employee pension issues. A chapter titled "Housing" is about the new limits on home owners insurance. The chapter titled "Health" is about private health insurance.
Insurance is supposed to pool the random risks of many to reduce personal risk. Trouble is people who lose their jobs apply for health insurance in mid life, or later, when they are more likely to get sick, or be sick with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
As Gosselin explains, the circumstance of private insurance gives the companies every incentive to insure the young and healthy, and lower their risk of big payouts by avoiding the others. Gosselin does an admirable job documenting the practices and shortcomings of private health insurance and the need for a national risk pool.
The chapters on employee benefits, insurance and retirement accounts have self help and buyer beware information that makes them useful as part of personal finance. Other chapters on jobs and education have less self help information, but interviews illustrate a variety of risks of layoffs, displacement and unemployment for people from a variety of educational backgrounds and managerial, skilled and unskilled occupations.
The book is not just about politics and current events it covers personal finance issues that provide useful ideas to act on. It is quite flexible because chapters can be read in any order, or read some and skip others depending on interest. Careful readers will want to look over the insurance policies, health benefits and retirement accounts. It is a book for savers.
Fred Siegmund covers America's jobs as part of work doing labor market analysis and projections for a client base of recruiters, trainers and counselors. Visit him at www.americanjobmarket.blogspot.com
Open thread: what are your favorite personal finance books?
I'll start it off. Two of mine are:
The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing got me started on the path to index investing, helping me realize that there is no way to long-term successfully beat the market. It preaches paying low fees and going along for the ride, rather than trying to actively outperform benchmarks.
The Automatic Millionaire taught me about paying yourself first and automating savings and investing. When you're automatically socking money away, you're increasing your net worth without even thinking about it.
Share your thoughts. What are your favorite personal finance books?