Know Your Own and Other People’s Limitations - dummies

By David Stevenson

One risk to your investment is lurking in the background that you may not be aware of: you! Quite rightly you want to research new ideas and strategies but that extra effort needs to be accompanied with proper due diligence and research effort. It involves keeping an eye on the UK markets and the wider economy and sometimes going against the grain of the markets.

For many investors this task is impossible. They may not have the time to undertake the work and prefer to leave it all in the hands of their adviser. Unfortunately, others don’t bother putting in the extra time and hard work and may even be ignorant of new ideas and strategies.

If you or your adviser can’t devote the time to managing your money properly, you should adopt a zen-like attitude towards the markets. Invest some money in a diversified series of cheap index-tracking funds, and then just sit back and get on with the rest of your life.

Keep costs to the minimum, make sure that you’re diversified and don’t chase any new trends. Keep things simple and stick to long-term buy-and-hold investing.

If you do have the time and disposition to keep abreast of new ideas and strategies, remain aware of your own behavioural traits and weaknesses. Look at yourself in the mirror and understand where you may make mistakes; and then put in place rules to stop you from mucking up.

In addition, assess and understand the limitations of your professional advisers: many simply aren’t knowledgeable enough or frankly that interested in investment. Annoyingly, many of the best advisers charge more money upfront for their expertise, which sadly puts off many investors.

Be cynical too about the extravagant claims of many fund managers, especially hedge-fund types: the industry is full of marketing hype and mendacious claims and a lot of evidence suggests that overall the hedge-fund industry isn’t very good at out-performing normal fund managers. Be wary, but also accept that you can learn from professional investors. Here’s the ideal balance: cynical but always open to new ideas!