At this time of year experts are predicting what the equity markets will do for the coming year. We are continually looking for answers.
- What will the future bring?
- Where will the markets go in 2014?
- Where is the best place for my investments?
- How can I earn stock market returns with Treasury bill risk?
These are really all unanswerable questions. No one can predict the future with any consistency. However, we as humans continue to search. Many of us read our astrology message each day. Hoping we can learn what will happen to us each day. Even here there are times when these readings appear right but again there is no consistency. When these readings are right it is a matter coincidence rather than some psychic ability of the writer.
Investors continually look to someone on Wall Street or anywhere for that matter to tell them how and where to invest. This search continues regardless of the poor track record of these predictors. For example the prestigious magazine ‘The Economist’ made the following prediction at the beginning of 2013. The magazine noted that while investors were optimistic, the coming year was unlikely to be one to remember.
Another magazine ‘The Financial News’ stated “the political storm clouds loom over the global economy. From Washington to Beijing, the financial markets are in thrall seismic political events.” Obviously neither of these predictions proved accurate.
As 2013 comes to a close the equity markets have had a stellar year.
Regardless of these and other inaccurate predictions, investors continue to search for answers and continue to read and absorb these and other publications. Many investors tell me that the stock market is too risky for them. This is true when your strategy is to listen to the ‘expert’ forecasts and basing you investment allocation of those predictions. When you base your investment strategy based on a forecast of the future you are gambling and speculating with your money.
The real problem is when one of these ‘forecaster’ is right, which is statistically inevitable. These predictors will market this fact extensively. What investors don’t seem to realize is that there is no correlation between past performance and future results. Like I said some of these forecasters will be right but there is no reliable way to know which one(s) will be right going forward.
Dr. Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2013
for his work on efficient markets. Dr. Fama essentially proved that all knowable information is already in the price of the security. There is no reliable way to predict how the markets will perform going forward.
Throughout my career in financial services I have also continued to search for the ‘answer’ with some success followed by poor results. I finally remembered by finance courses in both college and graduate school. In my studies I learned that there is an academic and scientific method to investing that has proven to be successful in the long term. The issue is that these methods do not eliminate risk but rather work to control it.
Investors would be more successful with less anxiety if they worked with an investor coach. An investor coach will teach you among other things where returns really come from. HINT: it does not come from the hot stock picker or market timer or the manager with the best track record.
Trying to adjust your strategy based on current conditions will result in poor and disappointing results.
When you have a prudent process and the discipline which an investor coach will provide, success will be yours WITHOUT the need for an accurate forecast.