Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great course for the mathematical inclined This is a great course for those who have taken the introductory courses on finance and investments. The course has many formulas and may be a bit intimidating for those who are not mathematically included. It is definitely and advance courses, as mentioned in the title.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beware!!! This course is a serious course on a topic with widespread utility, well presented, and with an excellent lecturer. It addresses bonds, stocks, and derivatives (calls and puts) in a college-level, technical manner. However, there are also significant warnings: First, understanding the content of this course depends on understanding basic college-level probability and statistics and on understanding least squares linear regression. Although the course addresses these topics in Lectures 7 and 16, if you are not already comfortable with these topics, you may not get as much from this course as you hope. Second, there are lots and lots of calculations in this course. This renders the audio version of this course largely ineffectual. Unless you are already a professor of finance, you will need to see the calculations in the video version in order to follow what is being said. You may also want to stop the recording and physically work out some of the calculations yourself. Third, just reciting the calculations makes this difficult to follow. Consider this typical discussion from the 22 minute mark in Lecture 10. “In the Caa case, if the cumulative entry for the two years is 40%, then the probability that it survives until t equals three is 1 - 0.4 or 0.6 or 60%. And what is the probability that it defaults during the third year? If the entry for two years is 40% and the entry for three years is 48% then the probability it defaults in the third year is simply the marginal probability, it’s 48% - 40% which is equal to 8%. Then out of the 60% of the times that it gets to Year 3, only 8% of those times does it default in the third year. That is, the hazard rate for the third year is 8 divided by 60 or 0.133 or 13.3%.” You really can’t follow this on audio while driving a car. In short, in order to follow this course effectively, you must be comfortable with probability, statistics, and linear regression, you must use the video version, and you must frequently stop the recording to work out example problems on your own.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Expectations This course was much more in depth than I expected, having to review several of the lectures to absorb the information, formulas, and concepts. I wish I'd had this years ago before I retired, but now that I have the information, I hope to avoid some mistakes that I might otherwise have made. I'm really enjoying these courses!
Date published: 2016-06-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from First Course I Have Returned I struggled off and on for many months to engage with this course, but I ultimately had to give up and make my first return (after purchasing over 60 courses over the past 12 years). As other reviewers have noted, the course is very math intensive with numerous equations and formulas, most of seemingly limited practical application. I found the lectures tedious and frequently very hard to follow (I watched the first ten lectures before giving up). The course seems to be geared to investment professionals who need to understand and use the technical formulas that underlie various investments and investment concepts -- not to the average investor or the experienced investor seeking to manage his or her personal portfolio. I had high hopes for the course but was very disappointed. That said, I learned that the Great Courses return process is extraordinarily user friendly. If you are inclined to take the course, I would recommend the video version so that you can see the mathematical equations that are frequently displayed.
Date published: 2015-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Advanced Investments If you are directly exposing your wealth to the market, then this course is mandatory. If you buy/sell equities based on the morning business news or internet "expert" sites, then don't waste your time. The course in dense in material presented and is fast paced. Although there is some math, it doesn't require multi-variable calculus to understand. The math demonstrates how the metrics are derived which important when determining which metric to utilize. I recommend you don't skip the math. This course will not make you an expert but will give you the tools to be an informed investor. Like anything else, you get from this course only what you are willing to put into it.
Date published: 2015-04-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I have a BS in Business and Economics (1974) and MAT(1990) and found this very difficult to follow. Assigning numeric values to variables in equations that I cannot see doesn't work. Also defining those variables with concepts that are defined differently by each individual creates problems for me. I did not expect such abstraction.
Date published: 2014-11-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Both Sides Are Right I have carefully read both the positive and negative reviews of this course. In fact, I looked at them both before I purchased the course and after I completed it. And both sides present valid points. The proponents are right that there are many sophisticated analytical lessons to be learned in the course. This course is intended to address complex investment issues typically of concern to investment advisers and managers of large investment funds, rather than to give most investors practical help in handling investments on basic, even significant matters. On the other side, the critics are right that the professor gets needlessly too complicated and often dwells too much on matters on the outskirts of important and needed knowledge and skills. It is really only in the last lecture that the professor gets more deeply into teaching practical lessons about the sort of criteria most investors would benefit from learning. My own verdict: I found value in the course, but less than I expected. And, while I make fairly consequential investment decisions and work with others who do so much more, I think that this course really only works for a select few. And, I suspect they have gotten better instruction in other fora and in other ways.
Date published: 2014-11-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not sure where to begin, I am an engineer and MBA I have been also a series 7 licensed broker (in previous life). The professor has tried to cover lots of material in very short amount of time. There are a lot of tangents that professor gets on with no destination in sight. Lots of simple formulas are presented in a complex written out form. The idea is to make the learning as easy as possible without showing one's command of vocabulary or financial terms. I was hoping to get some value for managing a family portfolio in 7 digits but at the end of the course I was scratching my head with all the superficial and shallow concepts that one can learn from the help section of a discount brokers website. If the course is for mutual fund managers, believe me this would not even train a third world country mutual fund manager given US fund managers have access to such a sophisticated tools. If this course for average investor to learn how to fine tune their portfolio and make sure assets are allocated properly, I bet the person will be lost in the minutia. For e.g. a beta of a security could have been easily explained by stating that if a security or stock has a beta of 1.3 that means if S&P moves up/down by 1 point, the stock will move by 1.3 points. This simple concept was explained in whole 30 minutes instead of two. I had to ask for refund that I am sure the Great Courses company will promptly return.
Date published: 2014-10-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not worth your two cents... I am so unimpressed, by this self-impressed presenter. He seems to have a need to slam the viewers with his sophisticated grasp of unnecessary mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Most of us take a course to learn. We want a motivational, inspirational prof who is clear not intentionally announcing to the world--"look at me--I'm smart." The assumption is that all instructors for the teaching company are smart. But can they teach? Steve Slezak--not so much. This course is not worth your two cents!
Date published: 2014-10-19
Date published: 2014-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Believe the title when it says ADVANCED Prospective students looking for investment tips & shortcuts will be disappointed. The course is steeped in finance theory and financial mathematics required to understand it.. Dr. Slezak developed, organized and presented the materials of this course extremely well. The course is concise and fast-moving, and I needed to pause and replay many portions of it. Other pluses - The course covers the waterfront of finance theory fundamentals. Dr. Slezak is at ease with the subject and uses good illustrations of the many concepts. It greatly aids understanding the drivers of value in securities and derivatives. Minuses - The course is short on practical applications that an active investor can employ. The punchline in the last lecture is that the CAPM has little empirical data to substantiate it. I give him high marks for addressing this, but it leaves the student uncertain about how to treat other factors that influence pricing.
Date published: 2014-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Statistical Analysis for Portfolio Management Let me start by saying this is an extremely valuable course and will teach you how to better manage your chances of improved portfolio performance. Dr Slezak has done an excellent job in the design and sequencing of the concepts and knowledge transfer. That said, this is an advance course that requires prior knowledge in mathematics, with an emphasis in basic statistics and a good overall understanding of the various financial instruments traded in markets. If this is not knowledge you current possess, take the time to do the preparatory work. It is the keystone to applying the presented concepts to real World decisions. Dr. Slezak delivers a lot of very useful information at a rate that may require some time to process and absorb. Even if you are a long time investor and a math whiz, you will likely benefit from revisiting the lectures more than once to better digest the concepts. The payoff is in gaining the knowledge and tools needed to make informed considered decisions about portfolio management as oppose to simply gambling.
Date published: 2014-09-01
Date published: 2014-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Highly technical The average laymen investor will learn little from this highly technical series unless he/she is math & algebra oriented, passionate about investing, and willing to spend the time and effort to learn the principles taught by Professor Slezak.
Date published: 2014-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear and concise Prof Slezak straddles the line of summarized content and mathematical detail. He succeeds magnificently. He also straddles the line of theory and practice. He succeeds very well here too. I understand the comments about reading the presentation, but I believe this stems from his knowledge and repetition of the subject matter. He bolstered my knowledge of investments and gave me more of the math I need for better decisions. Admirable job. I recommend this course.
Date published: 2014-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wish I had this a few years ago, would have saved I just viewed first 3 lectures, I would have payed 10 times the amount for just these lectures (but thank you for keeping the courses affordable). I don't have a formal investing background, but have been trading(rather gambling!!! more than investing) on my own for the past 10 years, read many books (mostly mumbo jumbo about patterns, chart analysis, etc), got some hits but mostly losses, luckily I had put about 20K aside for learning and lost most of it in 90's/2000 and did not wipe myself out financially. So very scared of the market because I could not figure out what I am doing/want OR more important how did I get a winner once in a while. In any case, This is the best investment decision you can make to listen and work through this course. For me after Roger Dawson's Negotiation course (paid \$200 for it through my professional society and the ROI on that was more than \$500K over the past 5 years) and I am optimistic this will top that. A hint to the Great courses team, get Roger Dawson to do a Negotiation Course.
Date published: 2014-04-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from One of my least favorite courses I haven't been able to finish this course, even though it is a subject matter I am very interested in. I have the DVD version, and the lecturer mostly reads the text that is on the screen. There were a number of errors in the math calculations, which was distracting. I have been investing in stocks for years and have a Computer Science degree, so I thought this course would be good for me, and I did get a few useful ideas for how to approach a balanced portfolio. But most of the lectures were hard to sit through and follow. Some advanced math formulas are just read to you instead of explained. I can't imagine following this on the CD version, so if you do purchase this you should get the DVD version.
Date published: 2014-04-19
Date published: 2014-04-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Advanced Investments Professor Slezak provides very technical lectures with no practical application. The statistics presented may be very useful for a research project, but the presentation is not practical for finding daily investment opportunities or watching daily stock prices. The course doesn't help you get in or out of the market. It doesn't even mention how to set stops or limits with an online broker. Many of the parameters mentioned are not easy to find and due to the nature of investing, the factors are discounted very fast in the stock prices.
Date published: 2014-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable Value... Cornerstone Investing Course If wishes were horses all men would ride, they say. When it comes to making money from Investing, if you are ready to do the work, this is one of the greatest courses available to common people on investing. The only other place you can get stuff like this is in a MS Finance course at a University. Professor Slezak has ascended the academic heights and come back down with knowledge for the rest of us to profit from. If you need top-tier, real-world analytical know-how for investing in stocks and bonds (and other instruments) and getting solid returns, this is the course for you. BUT you need to be ready to take on the quantitative and analytical aspects of the course. If you are not interested in setting aside the time for this, the alternative you have is to get a professional manager. Aside from saving the extra dough you'd spend on a manager, nothing beats knowing what you are investing in inside out by yourself. I'd like to advise that you study the course - Understanding Investments - along with this one if you are looking for an introduction to the subject matter.
Date published: 2014-04-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Advanced Investments I got this course to improve my understanding of investments and portfolio management. But, what I got instead is a mathematical treatise on investment. It is so theoretical that application to real life is not shown. Prof. Slezak is really good at presenting the subject, but does not touch on applying it in practical investing.
Date published: 2014-04-01
##### 1: Investment Decisions and Goals

When it comes to wealth, more is better. But how important is liquidity to you? How important is risk? How important is being able to leave a legacy to members of your family or to causes you hold dear? As preparation for the course, consider these and other personal goals.

31 min
##### 2: A Framework for Investing

Learn how to layer various types of active management strategies on top of a passive market portfolio. Professor Slezak outlines three primary strategies: timing the market, reallocating money across sectors, and picking stocks that may outperform their sector. He also describes shorting and arbitrage.

30 min
##### 3: Mistakes Investors Make

It's easy to fool yourself when making important investment decisions. Examine three common cognitive errors: framing, biased self-attribution, and seeing patterns where none exist. These natural human tendencies highlight the need to avoid emotional or illogical reactions to financial information.

31 min
##### 4: The Characteristics of Security Returns

Review concepts from probability and statistics that are essential to know in investing. Focus on formulas that measure three characteristics of an asset: its expected return, its return variance (or volatility), and the covariance (or correlation) of its return with the returns on other assets.

32 min
##### 5: The Theory of Efficient Markets

Is it possible to make money by actively trading in the market? According to the efficient markets hypothesis, you are better off as a passive investor, because prices almost always reflect true value. Explore three versions of this theory, including the weak form, which holds that prices follow what is called a random walk.

31 min
##### 6: Evidence on Efficient Markets

Continue your study of the efficient markets hypothesis by investigating data from actual markets. Focus on momentum phenomena and volatility anomalies as possible evidence of market inefficiencies. Are these real opportunities to beat the market or only illusions that snare overconfident investors?

31 min
##### 7: Valuation Formulas

Explore one of the most basic building blocks of any financial valuation method: the concept of the time value of money. Obtain formulas for present value, future value, and net present value. Then use these tools to solve a problem in retirement planning.

35 min
##### 8: Bond Pricing

Investigate bond pricing, which compared to stock pricing is beautifully predictable-if complex. Understand why interest rates vary across different bonds. Practice calculating the bond price for a given rate. Then take the price as given, and determine the yield to maturity.

32 min
##### 9: The Term Structure of Interest Rates

At a given moment, interest rates vary with the time to maturity of different bonds. Examine the yield curve and the term structure of interest rates, learning how to weigh your investment choices. Discover that bond prices are a window to the expected future performance of the market.

33 min
##### 10: The Risks in Bonds

Learn how to think about the risks of owning bonds. Start by considering interest rate risk. Then examine how default or credit risk affects the yields on bonds. While most investors only want to consider highly rated bonds, significant return can be earned by bearing default risk.

32 min
##### 11: Quantifying Interest Rate Risk

Get an intuitive feel for the features that raise or lower interest rate risk on bonds. Practice calculating duration, and discover that the time to maturity may not be particularly close to the duration of a bond. This underscores the importance of focusing on the duration of your bond investments.

31 min
##### 12: Value Creation and Stock Prices

Consider how the equity returns on two firms that are essentially in the same business can be very different based solely on differences in capital structure. Both can be efficiently priced, but one will have a higher equity return due to its higher leverage and resulting risk.

32 min
##### 13: Present Value of Growth Opportunities

Use the formulas developed in Lecture 7 to analyze the present value of a firm under different scenarios. By employing a simple model, you will be able to identify how managerial decisions in a well-run company can lead to increased stock price.

34 min
##### 14: Modeling Investor Behavior

Good investors are not necessarily those who can find good investments, but those who can predict what stocks others will pick. Learn how economists model investor behavior, focusing on the indirect utility function, which can predict people's aversion to variations in outcome.

32 min
##### 15: Managing Risk in Portfolios

Investors do not-and should not-hold just one security at a time. Explore strategies for combining securities into a variety of optimal portfolios. For any level of risk, such portfolios have the highest average return; and, for any level of average return, they have the lowest risk.

32 min
##### 16: The Behavior of Stock Prices

Learn to use regression analysis to quantify the characteristics of a security, particularly its risk and possible mispricing relative to an asset pricing model. One of Professor Slezak's goals is to introduce techniques that allow you to analyze data that is widely available on the Internet.

30 min
##### 17: The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)

Study the characteristics of an equilibrium asset pricing model. Then build the most popular version-the capital asset pricing model (CAPM)-which allows you to measure risk for a portfolio. According to CAPM, the cross- section of returns is driven by common risks that cannot be eliminated through diversification.

33 min
##### 18: How to Exploit Mispriced Securities

Explore three steps for exploiting mispriced securities. First, investigate the strategy of short selling. Then, develop a measure of mispricing called alpha. Finally, use information about a stock's alpha and its volatility to form an optimal risky portfolio.

30 min
##### 19: Performance Evaluation

How do you know if an actively managed portfolio is producing worthwhile results? Survey several performance metrics: the Sharpe ratio, the Treynor measure, Jensen's alpha, the M-squared measure, and the information ratio. The measure you need depends on how you are using the portfolio you are evaluating.

35 min
##### 20: Market Making and Liquidity

Probe the nature of liquidity, learning how it is defined, how to measure it, and when to pay the market price for a liquid security. Many less-well-known stocks may be less liquid. But because they are less well-known, they are more likely to be mispriced, presenting potential trade opportunities.

32 min
##### 21: Understanding Derivatives

Begin your examination of derivative securities, first by defining them and then by looking at option contracts called "puts" and "calls." Also examine how a lack of transparency in a type of derivative called credit default swaps contributed to instability during the financial crisis of 2008.

31 min
##### 22: Using Derivatives

Investigate two uses for options: speculation and hedging. Follow the steps for betting on the direction of movement in the price of a security. Then see that hedging is less risky and can be compared to buying insurance. Learn that the important variables in a hedge are the hedge ratio and the option delta.

30 min
##### 23: Pricing Derivatives

Continue your study of derivatives by looking at the two most popular strategies for pricing options: the binomial method and the revolutionary Black-Scholes formula. The key insight of these pricing models is that you can build structures out of existing securities that behave just like the underlying option.

33 min
##### 24: Trade Opportunities or Risk?

Return to the capital asset pricing model introduced in Lecture 17, evaluating its effectiveness. Then analyze alternatives to CAPM along with anomalies that are at odds with existing models. Close by putting the course into perspective, stressing the wisdom and profit of trusting the market in the long term.

33 min
Steve L. Slezak

As a professor, my job is not to simply provide information or to tell you what to think. Rather, I think my job as a professor is to teach you how to think for yourself.

ALMA MATER

University of California, San Diego

INSTITUTION

University of Cincinatti