Beat The Bank by Larry Bates: A Book Review

A number of people in the Canadian Fintech Twitter realm recommended Beat the Bank: The Canadian Guide to Simple Successful Investing by Larry Bates so I thought I would add it to the 5 personal finance books I set out to read for 2023. Here is my Beat the Bank book review. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

This is definitely one of those books that will help you grow your confidence in DIY investing. I would assume that if you are reading this blog you might already be a DIY investor, but if you aren’t please make the switch! You’ll be glad you did, provided that you invest in low cost index funds and keep it simple (without the day trading nonsense).

Who is Larry bates?

Larry Bates is a veteran to the Canadian banking scene. He had a 35 year career with RBC Capital Markets where he was an investment banker. He also worked for Sun Life, Scotiabank, Canada Trust, and a brokerage house (Merril Lynch Canada). So he’s quite adept with the Canadian rodeo show of Canadian banking and investing.

Currently, Larry Bates is on the board of FAIR Canada (Canada’s Investor Rights Advocate) and is an Ambassador of the Transparency Task Force.

Beat The Bank Book Review

As you probably already know, Canadians pay one of the highest mutual fund fees in the world, and these mutual fund fees quietly take away 50% or more of the lifetime investment gains of millions of Canadians.

50% of lifetime investment gains.

In the first few chapters, he talks about old Bay street and new Bay street. New Bay street makes it much easier to invest (really it is a few clicks of your mouse) provided you know what to invest in.

Instead of comparing two people who invest at different time frames, he compares two fictitious couples “The Meeks” and “The Ables” who have saved the same amount but have different investment gains, due to different asset allocation and The Meeks investing in mutual funds with higher fees.

He also included some simple charts (compelling charts) to help you understand how much money you are losing by keeping your investments on the mutual fund table.

In the chapter titled “The Wealth Formula” Larry Bates talks about the three wealth builders:

  • Amount
  • Time
  • Rate

And the three wealth killers:

  • Fees
  • Tax
  • Inflation

Compounding is just completely magical and every time I run calculations on my favourite Compound Interest Calculator, my eyes just bug out. The perfect blend of amount, time, and rate creates just incredulous numbers, that you’ll want to invest as soon as possible. The stock market is volatile in the short term but a wealth builder in the long term.

T-REX Scores Total Return Efficiency

Larry Bates introduces a concept called “T-REX score” which stands for Total Return Efficiency Index and is a measure of how much of your investment return you will actually keep. He actually has a free calculator on his website that you can use to calculate your mutual fund or ETFs T-REX score.

He’s not exaggerating about the 50%. If you invest $100,000 with an annual return of 7% and you have to pay these hidden 2% mutual fund annual fees, over 25 years, you will have $238,635 instead of $442,743, just because of that 2%, and that’s over $200,000 lost in fees alone.

Then, he talks about tax efficiency between capital gains and dividends, and interest income in non-tax sheltered accounts (or non-registered accounts).

Next, Larry Bates talks about Old Bay Street and how their modus operandi is to sell, sell, sell. This is why I have an aversion to sales people and how schmoozy they can be.

Thinking bank when I bought some flow through shares through my mom’s ‘financial advisor’ at the time, she sold it to me as a tax refund while I saw the value of the investment go to almost zero. I should have been more wary at that time when I swore I saw dollar bills flashing in her eyes.

I’m glad I switched to DIY investing when I did.

In the next few chapters of Beat The Bank, Larry Bates then talks about New Bay Street and how online discount brokerages are easier to use than you think. Alternatively, you could go the robo-advisor route or the fee-for-service advisor route. People tend to balk at paying $300 per hour for a fee for service advisor but they happily fork over $10,000 a year on their $1,000,000 portfolio to get a phone call once a year (if that) for an update on their portfolio.

Human nature is funny isn’t it.

Finally, in Beat the Bank, the author shares the ten commandments of simply successful investing which are:

  • Learn the basics of investing
  • Understand the wealth builders and wealth killers
  • Know your T-REX Score (and how much of your portfolio you will lose out to fees)
  • Understand how Bay street operates (commission, commission, commission)
  • Be a long term business owner
  • Know your risk tolerance
  • Make an investment plan
  • Dollar cost average
  • Ignore the market
  • And enjoy life

What I LIked About Beat The Bank

I liked that the author Larry Bates wrote this book so well. It was a very easy read, as if you were talking to him in person.

If you ever wondered why your bank mutual funds are not “doing anything” he will share you the detailed answer why and give you a step-by-step guide on how to fix this with DIY investing.

There aren’t many books in the Canadian personal finance realm about investing and explaining how to invest (and why, and why you should avoid mutual fund fees). There aren’t many Canadian investing books detailing the painful amount of fees that you will be paying over the years and why it’s important to do something about it.

I liked his transparency and honesty. He even has a chart on the mutual fund fees (assumed rate of return and annual fee) of some of the popular mutual funds in Canada in the Appendix.

What I Didn’t Like About Beat The Bank

Maybe that it wasn’t long enough?

Would have been nice to go into even more detail.

Hope you enjoyed this book review of Beat the Bank. If you are interested in making a change (and you are currently with bank mutual funds) I would recommend reading this book to help turbocharge your momentum for wealth building.

What is your Beat the Bank book review?

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