In my 30+ years in the financial industry, I’ve spoken with countless investors who, countless times over, were convinced that the stock market was about to crash. Every so often, they’ve been correct, at least temporarily.
But I’ve also noticed that the markets have always eventually recovered and continued their long-term ascent. For example, in the early days of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the S&P 500 Index was at about 100. Today, after 40 years, continuous global unrest, hyperinflation, banking crises, 9/11, Bernie Madoff and many other upsets come and gone … it’s hovering around 2,400.
In my last article, I stated that to be a successful investor you need a combination of science and behavioral determination. Today let’s discuss the science side of investing. This involves building a portfolio that offers the best odds for achieving your financial goals with the lowest possible risk. How do we do this? It’s tempting to dive right into picking “winning” holdings. In reality, that’s the last, least vital step:
In two recent articles, I explained how attempting to predict the near-term future is not investing. It’s speculating. So then, what is investing? Successful investing requires a combination of science and determination. The science is the easier part, so let’s first explore your best investment behavior.
The fact is, we’re often our own worst investment enemy, because we’re inherently hardwired to be bad at it. Numerous studies suggest that most investors’ portfolios ultimately underperform the investments they hold by around 1–3%.