Successful Investors Possess Three Attributes:
It takes all three traits to succeed long-term.
They have a sensible investment philosophy.
Develop a prudent strategy for their needs using low-cost funds.
Stick to their plan with die-hard discipline.
Investment Philosophy is an investor’s underlying core belief about how markets work and how to best invest in them. The two main philosophies are active and passive.
Active investors believe there is enough inefficiency in market prices to profit from trading after all costs. Passive investors believe the markets are more efficient than they are at determining prices and accept a market return through index-tracking investments.
The academic evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of passive investors. Those who accepted market returns have performed meaningfully better on average than active investors who try to outperform the markets. After structural costs (fees, expenses, commissions) and behavioral costs (poor security selection and timing errors), the net result of active investors falls far short of passive returns.
Create a Portfolio Strategy
Strategy puts philosophy into practice. The opportunity to earn market returns extends to every person and organization; however, no one strategy is universal. Strategy is the unique way each investor personalizes the universal passive philosophy. Every investor should customize their portfolio to their own needs and ability to handle risk.
Strategy starts with an assessment of your financial situation, long-term goals, and the ability to withstand short-term losses. This leads to a prudent asset allocation among risky assets, less risky assets, and risk-less assets, and to an asset location plan for tax purposes when applicable. From there, a portfolio is constructed to achieve market returns in each asset class. These products offer low-cost, full transparency, tax efficiency.
Fees are important when selecting a 3-38 investment adviser, but what’s more important is being on the same page philosophically first, then work together to find the best portfolio strategy.
Maintaining discipline is the hardest part of investing. Distractions are everywhere. Adjusting a portfolio to keep up with the “news” is futile. Poor relative performance usually results when an investor attempts to trade on information that’s already known and widely disseminated in the marketplace. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and break discipline.
There are ways to improve discipline. One way is to keep your portfolio strategy simple. Less complexity means less temptation to make frequent changes. Holding a few, low-cost, broadly diversified funds in a portfolio helps maintain discipline.
Three Keys to Success
Philosophy, strategy, and discipline are the keys to long-term investment success. Once you’ve crossed the bridge to passive investing, select a few low-cost, diversified investments that match the returns of the markets, and do whatever it takes to remain disciplined.