Prudent Investing Is Boring…

Prudent investing is boring. There is no excitement. It’s like watching paint dry. Except as Fred Taylor of Professional Associates wrote in a recent post, watching paint dry is too involved:

The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though this is my job, I’ll admit that I don’t watch the markets (closely) every day — largely because there’s no real need to and further, not following it minute to minute or hour to hour is good for reducing the stress level in one’s life.

Recently a close friend and client told me, “Tony I have been reading your weekly emails for quite some time and I beginning to find them boring.”  Well guess what they will continue to be boring. Because prudent investing is boring but in the long run rewarding as well.

Jason Zweig recently retired from writing his weekly article for the Wall Street Journal after ten years. He stated that he was successful because he was able to convince his editor that his material was fresh. He also stated his message was the same each week. Prudent investing works.

Prudent investing can be summed up with three simple rules:

  • Own equities and high quality short term fixed income.
  • Globally diversify.
  • Rebalance.

These rules may seem simple however most if not all investors cannot follow them consistently. During market extremes, both up and down, investors will panic and sell during extreme downturns. This is usually followed by concentrating their portfolio in the ‘hot’ sector/asset class/stock during periods of ‘hype’.

This is why working with an investor coach/fiduciary adviser is so important to your investing success. We need to be reminded over and over to follow the basics of prudent investing. Hence, the ‘boring’ weekly emails.

Each day we are bombarded with predictions about what will happen next in the market. We hear this from ‘experts’ our colleagues or friends and family. The financial media is filled with this investing pornography. We are all seeking information to predict what will happen next. We are all worried about the future and how it will affect us and our finances.

What we don’t realize is that the markets are random and unpredictable. Therefore this investing pornography is worthless. Although long term prudent investing is boring it is also rewarding.

Remember there have been market downturns in the past, some were very severe. There will be downturns going forward. The problem is no one can tell you with any consistency when these downturns will occur.

Patience and discipline are boring. Long term prudent investing is boring.

Stop the excitement, fire your broker/agent and hire an investor coach/fiduciary adviser.

Just The Facts!!

Every day we hear on the radio or see on the television or print media reasons to make emotional decisions with our money. Every day there are reasons for any asset class to go up OR down. Every day there is new information that will affect us in a positive or negative way. The variables that can affect investments are never the same as there are hundreds if not thousands of such variables.

English: The corner of Wall Street and Broadwa...
English: The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showing the limestone facade of One Wall Street in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can justify almost any imprudent investment decision with “facts.”  Information is filtered by our emotions to create “facts” that support our decisions or beliefs.  Without outside guidance, it is impossible to tell when and how this happens.  Truth in the field of investing is elusive. It may not be lies but rather that no one knows what will happen next. You may find someone who makes a correct “prediction” however there is no evidence that this same person or institution will be right going forward.

To truly succeed in investing for the long term, you must own

  • Own equities and high quality fixed income.
  • Globally diversify.
  • Rebalance.

Your emotions will continue to guide many of your investment decisions. The media along with the Wall Street bullies will continue to use fear and hype to keep your money moving. They will continue to put a spin on any event that will strike fear and incite greed.

How many times have you heard ‘if this happens then this will happen’? Well just because it happens once has nothing to do with future results. As I mentioned earlier there are hundreds if not thousands of variables that must perfectly align for events to perfectly repeat. This very seldom is the case.

Don’t forget the media and the Wall Street bullies have access to you 24 hours per day seven days per week through the expansive media networks.

If you want to invest with less anxiety and do not enjoy watching all the daily newsfeeds. You need to find and follow the guidance of an investor coach/fiduciary adviser. Also keep in mind that hiding your money in your mattress is not a very good solution.

Are You Seeking Advice or Validation??

In my previous message I discussed process and superstitions. Now I would like to expound on that discussion. Many of us continue to believe that the investment manager makes the difference between a good return and poor returns. These investors believe that they can find the manager that will help them ‘beat’ the market. Or more importantly ‘beat’ their neighbor, friend, relative……….

Barclays Global Investors headquarters on Howa...
Barclays Global Investors headquarters on Howard Street in San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned previously people that go to a casino believe they have a system but it ends up they have thinly veiled superstitions. Many investors are lured by ‘experts’ with a system. These typically include a ‘system’ to predict when to get into and out of the market or a particular asset class or a particular hot stock. Somehow these ‘experts’ have determined a particular indicator or indicator(s) that can predict what the markets will do next.

What these ‘experts’ forgot or more likely don’t know to tell investors is that there is NO correlation between past events and future results. The markets are random and unpredictable. These ‘experts’ actually believe they have found the ‘holy’ grail or at least they want to convince investors that they have found the grail. These ‘experts’ fall into one of two groups, group one does not know what will happen next and group two does not know that they do not know what will happen next.

Some ‘experts’ will lead you to believe that they have watched and studied the markets for so long that they can ‘feel’ the pulse of the market. These ‘feelings’ are nothing more than thinly veiled superstitions.

Any adviser that cannot tell you the expected return and expected volatility (risk) of the recommended portfolio is speculating and gambling with your money and not investing.

Many of these ‘experts’ made a correct prediction once or twice and have convinced themselves and potential investors that they can do it again and again. Well these predictions were a matter of luck and not skill. The academics have proven time and again that the markets are random and unpredictable.

Sure some of these ‘experts’ get lucky but do you want to invest your money based on someone’s luck or based on academic research? Investing is a long term process ideally a lifelong process that has its ups and downs.

To reach your long term financial goals you need the assistance of an investor coach/fiduciary adviser. Your coach will help you build the right portfolio for you and your family. Most importantly your coach will keep you disciplined during market extremes, both up and down.

Keep in mind your coach will, at times, ask you to do something you do not want to do. Your coach may ask you to sell a good performing asset class and buy a poor performing asset class. This is called rebalancing and at times this requires discipline to go against the financial media.

If your adviser does whatever you tell them to do, what good are they? What are you really paying them for? You need to ask yourself if you are seeking advice or validation. An investor coach/fiduciary adviser is just that your coach not your facilitator.