IF YOU found yourself at dinner next to an affable gentleman who proceeded to tell you his life story - all 94 years of it - spiced with kindly bits of advice, it would be a lot like reading this book. As the reader learns in this gentle autobiography - So Far, So Good: The First 94 Years (John Wiley & Sons, US$29.95) - when Roy Neuberger was born in 1903 in the United States, Teddy Roosevelt was president, the Wright brothers were preparing for their epic flight, and the first trans-American automobile trip was under way. This is a slight shock, considering how dramatically the world has changed in the lifetime of this one man - who still does his morning exercises and reads the newspaper and offers opinions on President Bill Clinton. In this considerable span of time, Mr Neuberger has witnessed two market collapses and two world wars, started the Neuberger & Berman fund-management company, won and lost large amounts of money, bought a lot of paintings and managed to keep his good humour intact. 'Some people waste their lives in the constant pursuit of great wealth. As a commodity, let's face it, money doesn't rate as high as good health - and it certainly isn't up there with great art,' Mr Neuberger says in his preface. In the style of gentlemen who are getting on in years, Mr Neuberger tends to ramble and repeat himself, until one is suppressing yawns and trying not to tune out completely because the gist of his conversation is, on the whole, quite interesting. The lives of people born in the first half of the century seem so much simpler than now. Things were black and white, right and wrong. Mr Neuberger's book, containing his firm opinions, is steeped in the easy clarity and confidence of a man who examines things for himself. So it is only wise to consider his views carefully when, after 68 years in the business of buying and selling, he offers advice on investing. It is particularly so when he scoffs at the received wisdom and sheep-like mentality on Wall Street, and warns against greed. 'The bulls make money, the bears make money, but what happens to the pigs?' he asks pointedly. Never underestimate the importance of psychology, he advises. And be your own historian. The 20th century saw 26 bear markets and 27 bull markets, he notes. The years between 1974 and mid-1997 saw the most prolonged bull market in almost 100 years. The other major bull markets, from 1921 to 1929 and 1950 to 1972, were both punctuated by countertrends. Mr Neuberger stresses that investors must hedge, watch the environment, track energy supplies, economic conditions and interest rates. But ignore the economists, he says. 'My experience is that the 'dismal science' is not worth a damn as far as the market is concerned,' he says, rather endearingly. None of this is particularly earth-shattering, although it carries the weight of tried-and-tested experience. It is not unusual for those who have lived long to offer the simplest advice: be good and eat your vegetables. Amid all this talk of money, it is perfectly and refreshingly clear that Mr Neuberger's first love is really art. That fuels his drive to make money. He says the book that changed his life in 1928 (yes, 70 years ago) was about painter Vincent Van Gogh and how miserably he was treated in France. 'I wanted to be able to buy the works of living artists, to support their work financially,' he writes. Like many successful men, Mr Neuberger was a maverick, a college dropout who taught himself everything he knew, relying on sheer chutzpah, curiosity about life and, most of all, a healthy sense of irony. How seriously the money men take themselves these days. They might learn a thing or two from Mr Neuberger.