An Enduring Investment Philosophy
Investing is a long-term endeavour. Indeed, people will spend decades pursuing their financial goals. But being an investor can be complicated, challenging, frustrating, and sometimes frightening. This is exactly why, as David Booth says, it is important to have an investment philosophy you can stick with, one that can help you stay the course.
This simple idea highlights an important question: how can we, as investors, maintain discipline through bull markets, bear markets, political strife, economic instability, or whatever crisis du jour threatens progress towards our investment goals?
Over their lifetimes, investors face many decisions, prompted by events that are both within and outside their control. Without an enduring philosophy to inform their choices, they can potentially suffer unnecessary anxiety, leading to poor decisions and outcomes that are damaging to their long-term financial well-being.
When they don’t get the results they want, many investors blame things outside their control. They might point the finger at the government, central banks, markets or the economy. Unfortunately, the majority will not do the things that might be more beneficial—evaluating and reflecting on their own responses to events and taking responsibility for their decisions.
Some people suggest that among the characteristics that separate highly successful people from the rest of us is a focus on influencing outcomes by controlling one’s reactions to events, rather than the events themselves.
By understanding how markets work and maintaining a long-term perspective on past events, investors can focus on ensuring that their responses to events are consistent with their long-term plan.
The Foundation of an Enduring Philosophy
An enduring investment philosophy is built on solid principles backed by decades of empirical academic evidence. Examples of such principles might be: trusting that prices are set to provide a fair expected return; recognizing the difference between investing and speculating; relying on the power of diversification to manage risk and increase the reliability of outcomes; and benchmarking your progress against your own realistic long-term investment goals.
Combined, these principles might help us react better to market events, even when those events are globally significant or when, as some might suggest, a paradigm shift has occurred, leading to claims that “it’s different this time.” Adhering to these principles can also help investors resist the siren calls of new investment fads or worse, outright scams.
We know that investing will always be both alluring and scary at times, but a view of how to approach investing combined with the guidance of a firm like FFP can help people stay the course through challenging times. FFP can provide an objective view and help investors separate emotions from investment decisions. Moreover, it can educate, communicate, set realistic financial goals and help their clients deal with their responses even to the most extreme market events.