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Sunday, July 21, 2024

5 Things You Should Not Care About as an Investor


Rethinking Financial Freedom Masterclass: Join Now

I am holding a 2-hour online session on the subject of “Rethinking Financial Freedom.” The session is free for Mastermind members. However, if you are not one, you can join the session by registering now. The session will be on this Saturday, 29th June 2024, from 8 to 10 PM IST, on Zoom. Recording will also be available after the class. Click here to know more about this masterclass and join.


I was at a friend’s place recently, and since we are in a bull market, and against my wish, we got down to talk about investing.

As I had expected, most of the discussion was around what the markets have done in recent times, and where they are likely to go after the new government gets down to work. I tried to move the conversation towards long-term investing, but was pulled back again and again by things that worry people in the short term. And that led me to think about this post about, well, a few things you should not care about as an investor.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Don’t care about how much other people are earning: The first thing you must not care about as an investor is how much other people are earning from their stocks and other investments.

Of course, we cannot get away from the fact that we live in an interconnected world, and the instant updates of social media tell us how much richer other people are getting from their stocks. In fact, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the success stories of others. We see our friends, colleagues, and especially social media influencers boasting about their soaring stock portfolios and newfound wealth. This can create a sense of urgency and even envy. But here’s a secret – their success has nothing to do with your journey.

Imagine you’re in a race, but each runner is on a different track, with different hurdles and different finish lines. When you compare your progress to theirs, it is not just unfair, but also meaningless. Each investor’s situation is unique – they have different risk tolerances, financial goals, and investment strategies. But when you focus on others, it distracts you from your own path, and it can lead you to poor decision-making, which is driven by emotions rather than logic.

Not to forget that most of social media is click-bait, where people, especially those with a large following, often lie just to grab your attention, and so you also need to take that into account.

Investing is a personal journey. Your goal is not to beat others but to achieve your financial objectives. Keep your eyes on your own track, and let the successes of others be a source of inspiration, not comparison.

2. Don’t care about your recent stock market performance: We are all guilty of checking our portfolios on a daily basis and feeling happy or sad when we see our recent performances, especially when these are not what we hoped for. Maybe the market’s been turbulent, or you made a few bad calls, or the market is rising, and you did not invest much.

I know it’s easy to feel disheartened. However, short-term performance is not a reliable indicator of long-term success.

Investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Short-term fluctuations are a normal part of the journey. What matters is your long-term strategy and how well you stick to it. Instead of obsessing over recent performance, ask yourself if your investments align with your goals and if you’re following your plan. Stay disciplined, stay patient, and remember – time in the market beats timing the market.

3. Don’t care about how much you paid for an investment: This, I think, is one of the biggest traps we fall into – anchoring to the price we paid for a stock. This psychological bias can cloud judgment and lead to poor decisions. Let me share a story to illustrate this.

Imagine you bought a stock at ₹100 per share. The price has since fallen to ₹80. You buy more to average down your costs. The stock falls further, and you buy more. It goes down to ₹40, and you buy more. It’s then that you realise that the stock was falling because the business was turning bad or maybe you had already realized that earlier but were hoping that things would improve over time. But after owning so many shares in their falling stock, you now own a large part of the declining business in your portfolio. All because you were anchored to your first buying price of ₹100. This is a classic case of ‘anchoring bias’.

The price you paid is irrelevant to your current decision-making about the stock. What matters is the business’s future potential. If you realise the stock was a poor investment because you made a mistake in buying a bad business, holding onto it just because of the higher price you paid is not rational.

Good investors focus on the present and future, not the past. You must evaluate your investments based on their underlying quality and long-term prospects of the business, not the price you paid. I believe this shift in mindset can help you make more objective and profitable decisions.

4. Don’t care about your education qualification or IQ levels: There’s a common misconception that you need to be a financial genius or have a prestigious degree to be a successful investor. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Consider the best investors in the world, and you will realize that while they are undoubtedly intelligent, their success is attributed more to their temperament than their intellect. They are known for their patience, discipline, and ability to stay calm under pressure – all hallmarks of high emotional intelligence.

Your ability to manage emotions, stay disciplined, and make rational decisions often outweighs technical knowledge. You might be highly successful in your career and have a stellar educational background, but if you can’t control your emotions in the market, it can lead to poor investment decisions.

So, focus on building your emotional resilience. Learn to manage fear and greed, stay patient, and make decisions based on data and strategy, not emotions. I believe investing success is within reach for anyone willing to cultivate these traits.

5. Don’t care about beating the market and other investors: I see many investors getting caught up in the idea of “beating the market” or outperforming other investors. This competitive mindset can be detrimental. The truth is that consistently beating the market is extremely difficult and often relies on luck as much as skill.

Instead of trying to beat the market, focus on meeting your personal financial goals and surviving economic and market downturns over the next few years. Create a diversified portfolio that aligns with your risk tolerance and investment horizon. Stay consistent with your strategy and avoid the temptation to chase high returns or follow the latest trends.

Peter Bernstein wrote in his brilliant book Against the Gods that survival is the only road to riches. As an investor, you should try to maximize return only if losses do not threaten your survival.

The market is a complex system influenced by countless factors. Trying to outsmart it can be futile and exhausting. But when you focus on your own goals and maintain a steady, disciplined approach, you’re more likely to achieve sustainable success as an investor.

You see, successful investing is not about keeping up with others, obsessing over purchase prices, stressing about recent performance, relying solely on your academic qualifications, or constantly trying to beat the market. It’s about focusing on your unique goals, maintaining emotional discipline, and staying the course.

By letting go of these five things, you free yourself from unnecessary stress and distractions. You can then focus on what truly matters – building a solid, long-term investment philosophy that aligns with your personal financial goals.


Also Read: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Care About as an Investor

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