For as long as there have been organised economies, people have been employed to look after the wealth of others. More than 4,000 years ago landowners in Akkad, an early Mesopotamian civilisation, hired local managers to look after their farms. In their new book, “Investment: A History”, Norton Reamer and Jesse Downing explain how the industry has changed over time. Their fundamental idea is that investment has become “democratised”, available to a wider range of individuals.

Early investment was conducted on behalf of the wealthy, often by individuals with low status—current or former slaves in the Roman Republic, for example. In the Biblical parable of the talents, a master entrusts his wealth to a range of servants. Two of the servants doubled the master’s money but the third buried it in the ground, rather than “investing it with the bankers”. For this failure, the poor performer was “cast into the outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Today’s clients might welcome the ability to add this penalty clause to their contracts.

Looking after the assets of the rich—or

… Read Original Article From The Economist