Swedroe & Stotz Discuss 15 Common Investment Mistakes

Even the most experienced investors screw up. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and ensure they’re not fatal. Managing money is about managing your behavior.

Larry Swedroe and Andrew Stotz have recorded a number of episodes discussing Investment Mistakes Even Smart Investors Make and How to Avoid Them from the book with the same title that Larry co-authored with RC Balaban.

This blog post and the podcast episodes cover 15 out of the 77 investment mistakes even smart investors make mentioned in the book. These 15 common investment mistakes show how understanding and controlling human behavior is an important determinant of investment performance.

Mistake 1: Are You Overconfident of Your Skills?

In investing, confidence can be a valuable asset, but when it turns into overconfidence, it can lead to costly mistakes. Mistake 1 in our series, explores the dangerous trap of being overly confident in our skills and abilities as investors.

Overconfidence can manifest in various areas of life, and investing is no exception. Many believe they are above average in their abilities, particularly in beating the market. Despite evidence to the contrary, they expect their portfolios to outperform consistently. However, the reality is that the average investor should expect to earn market rates of return.

Research studies have shown that overconfidence can cloud decision-making in the investment world. Investors seek information confirming their beliefs while disregarding contradictory evidence, resulting in biased and suboptimal choices. Consequently, individual investors often underperform appropriate benchmarks, especially when they engage in frequent trading.

Even individuals with high intelligence are not immune to the pitfalls of overconfidence. Surprisingly, they, too, can significantly underperform the market when driven by an unfounded sense of superiority.

Recognizing our propensity for overconfidence is vital in developing a winning investment strategy. One helpful approach is to keep a diary of predictions and investment decisions. This diary can serve as a reality check, helping investors realize the limitations of their insights and the potential risks of excessive trading driven by overconfidence.

In conclusion, we must remain vigilant against the allure of overconfidence. Acknowledging this tendency and implementing measures to counteract it can lead to more disciplined and successful investment practices. Stay tuned for the next installment in our series on avoiding common investment mistakes.

ISMS 8: Larry Swedroe – Are You Overconfident in Your Skills?

Mistake 2: Do You Project Recent Trends Indefinitely into the Future?

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “recency,” where we give excessive importance to recent events and dismiss the lessons of history. This human tendency can have significant repercussions, especially in investing.

Investors often find themselves projecting recent trends into the future, succumbing to the allure of short-term gains and overconfidence. For instance, during periods of impressive performance by the S&P 500 Index, investors may overlook the potential of international stocks while they rush toward commodities and emerging markets when these assets show spectacular returns.

Numerous studies have revealed that the most popular fund categories often underperform the least popular ones. This behavior is driven by investors buying high after a period of impressive returns and selling low after experiencing poor performance. The result is often a significant discrepancy between dollar-weighted returns (DWR), which consider the timing of additions and withdrawals, and time-weighted returns (TWR) reported by mutual funds.

Interestingly, even index fund investors are not immune to the recency trap. The actual returns earned by investors in index funds frequently fall short of the reported returns of those funds due to the same behavioral biases.

It’s essential to ignore media hype, financial press, and short-term trends to avoid falling into the recency trap and making better investment decisions. Instead, investors should focus on analyzing long-term historical evidence and drawing logical conclusions. By taking a more measured and rational approach, investors can avoid overconfidence and improve their chances of achieving favorable returns in the long run.

In conclusion, recency bias can be a significant hindrance to successful investing. Acknowledging and addressing this tendency can lead to more informed and prudent decision-making, ultimately contributing to more robust investment strategies and improved financial outcomes.

ISMS 17: Larry Swedroe – Do You Project Recent Trends Indefinitely Into the Future?

Mistake 3: Do You Believe Events Are More Predictable After the Fact Than Before?

One ordinary human failing that often plagues investors is the phenomenon known as hindsight bias. It’s a cognitive quirk where individuals tend to overestimate their ability to predict the likelihood of an event happening after the event has already occurred. This after-the-fact analysis can create an illusion of predictability, leading to overconfidence in our decision-making abilities, particularly in investments.

We’ve all experienced moments when we look back on past events and think, “I knew it was going to happen all along!” This sense of foresight can be misleading and dangerous when making investment decisions. Relying on hindsight bias can distort our perceptions of market outcomes, making us believe that we can foresee future events better than we actually do.

Investors who fall prey to this bias may selectively remember their successes while conveniently forgetting their failures. This selective memory can create a distorted view of their investment prowess, reinforcing the belief that they have a unique ability to predict market movements and make consistently profitable choices.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that stock market returns are inherently unpredictable and subject to various influencing factors. Believing in the illusion of predictability can lead to poor investment decisions, as investors might be tempted to take on excessive risk based on perceived patterns that may not hold in the future.

The best approach to counter the unpredictability of the market is to build a globally diversified portfolio of index or passive asset class funds that align with individual risk tolerance and financial goals. Diversification helps mitigate risk and ensures that your investments are spread across different sectors and regions, reducing the impact of any single market event on your overall portfolio.

To avoid the mistake of hindsight bias, it’s crucial to acknowledge the inherent unpredictability of the market. Avoid placing too much confidence in after-the-fact analysis or relying solely on predictions from financial analysts, as the same hindsight bias can influence these. By adopting a humble and realistic outlook on market predictability; investors can make more informed and prudent decisions, positioning themselves for long-term success in their financial journey.

Mistake 4: Do You Extrapolate From Small Samples and Trust Your Intuition?

In the complex world of decision-making, people often fall victim to the allure of intuition and the pitfalls of concluding limited information. This cognitive bias can have significant consequences, particularly regarding investment decisions based on small data samples.

The work of psychologist Amos Tversky shed light on this phenomenon, revealing that individuals tend to make incorrect guesses and judgments when presented with small samples of information, even when statistical theory suggests otherwise. Unfortunately, investors are not immune to this bias, which can lead to costly mistakes and biased decision-making in the financial realm.

Many investors have been known to rely on short-term performance trends to guide their investment choices. However, this approach can be misleading and lead to erroneous conclusions. For example, from 1996 to 1998, growth stocks outperformed value and large-cap stocks, outshining small-cap stocks. Relying solely on this limited period’s data might tempt investors to make decisions based on these short-term trends, ignoring the broader context and historical evidence.

Investors should resist relying on small data samples and short-term trends to avoid falling into this trap. Instead, they should focus on long-term historical evidence, which provides a more reliable basis for making investment decisions. By considering a broader scope of data, investors can gain a more comprehensive understanding of market dynamics and avoid being swayed by short-lived patterns.

Trusting one’s intuition can be valuable in certain situations, but when it comes to financial matters, it’s essential to balance intuition with data-driven analysis. Combining intuition with rigorous research and a long-term perspective can lead to more informed and sound investment decisions.

In conclusion, be cautious of the temptation to extrapolate from small information samples and the allure of relying solely on intuition. Embrace a data-driven approach that considers long-term historical evidence and avoids getting swayed by short-term trends. By adopting a balanced and rational decision-making process, investors can increase their chances of achieving their financial goals and building a robust investment portfolio.

ISMS 20: Larry Swedroe – Do You Extrapolate From Small Samples and Trust Your Intuition?

Mistake 5: Do You Let Your Ego Dominate the Decision-Making Process?

In the fascinating world of investing, behavioral finance has unearthed a crucial truth: our egos often wield significant influence over our decisions, leading to irrational behavior with potentially costly consequences. This bias can be particularly pronounced regarding active investing and believing in beating the market.

Despite the evidence showing that many actively managed funds consistently underperform their benchmarks, investors often succumb to the allure of past performance, allowing their egos to lead the way. The illusion that we can predict future winners based on historical returns is a powerful ego-driven belief, even though research demonstrates that past performance has no bearing on future outcomes.

Fueling this ego-driven approach to investing is the perpetuation of myths by Wall Street, which promotes the idea that investors can consistently outperform the market. The financial industry benefits from encouraging active investing, despite evidence showing that most professional fund managers consistently fail to beat their benchmarks.

One of the primary reasons investors gravitate towards actively managed funds or individual stocks is the need to protect their egos. If their investment choices fall short of expectations, they can easily shift blame to the fund manager or external factors rather than accepting responsibility for their decisions.

To avoid these potentially costly investment mistakes, investors must recognize their egos’ role in decision-making and take a more rational approach. Instead of letting ego-driven beliefs guide their choices, investors should focus on passive, tax-managed funds that aim to earn market returns consistently. By adopting a more humble and evidence-based approach, investors can set themselves up for long-term success and avoid the pitfalls of ego-driven investing.

In conclusion, the impact of ego on investment decisions can be substantial, often leading to irrational choices and poor outcomes. To improve their chances of financial success, investors should be mindful of their egos’ influence and opt for a disciplined and passive investment strategy that aligns with their long-term goals. Letting go of the need to beat the market can be liberating, freeing investors to make more rational and informed decisions on their journey to financial prosperity.

Mistake 6: Do You Allow Yourself to Be Influenced by a Herd Mentality?

The allure of the herd mentality, also known as the “madness of crowds,” can be a powerful force in shaping human behavior. It’s a psychological phenomenon where individuals desire to mimic others and follow the crowd in their actions and decisions. When investing, the herd mentality can have a profound impact, often driven by emotions like greed and envy.

In recent times, investing has taken on a more social dimension, with investors engaging in discussions and gossip about their investments. This heightened social aspect can lead to the amplification of trends and the propagation of herd behavior. Investors may be swayed by the fear of missing out on apparent opportunities highlighted by others. As a result, they may make speculative and risky decisions, discarding long-held beliefs and ignoring fundamental principles like risk management and diversification.

Periodically, the market experiences bubbles characterized by irrational exuberance and unjustifiable valuations. Mass psychology and self-fulfilling prophecies often fuel these bubbles, as the herd mentality takes over and drives prices to unsustainable levels. Historical instances of bubbles and market crashes, such as those in 1929 and 2000, stand as stark reminders of the devastating impact of herd behavior on financial markets.

Resisting the herd mentality requires rationality and awareness. Investors can achieve this by thoroughly understanding how markets work and the behavioral biases that influence decision-making. A well-designed investment plan tailored to individual financial goals and risk tolerance can provide a solid foundation for resisting the temptation to follow the crowd.

Staying disciplined and committed to one’s investment strategy is vital for avoiding the pitfalls of herd behavior. While it’s natural to be influenced by prevailing sentiments, being mindful of these tendencies and sticking to a clear investment strategy can lead to better outcomes. By focusing on long-term objectives and avoiding impulsive actions driven by herd mentality, investors can increase their chances of achieving their financial goals and navigating the unpredictable waters of the financial market.

ISMS 23: Larry Swedroe – Do You Allow Yourself to Be Influenced by Your Ego and Herd Mentality?

Mistake 7: Do You Confuse Skill and Luck?

In investing, the line between skill and luck can often become blurred, leading to misconceptions and potentially costly errors. To illustrate this point, consider a coin-tossing scenario where 10,000 individuals participate in a contest to guess heads or tails for ten consecutive tosses.

Statistically, a few participants will guess all ten tosses correctly, not because of any particular skill but merely due to chance. Similarly, numerous active fund managers strive to beat the market in the investment world. Some will inevitably achieve success, not necessarily because of their skills, but merely by luck.

It’s essential to recognize that beating the market is, in essence, a zero-sum game. For one investor to outperform, another must underperform. The odds of any specific fund manager consistently outperforming the market are, at best, 50/50, akin to a coin toss.

Yet, investors often fall into the trap of attributing short-term outperformance to superior skill, anointing such managers as “gurus” or experts. However, such success may result from luck rather than any demonstrated expertise. On the flip side, if a manager experiences a period of underperformance, investors may hastily blame lousy luck instead of considering that their “guru” might not have the skills they initially believed.

A real-world example reinforces this phenomenon. After a short period of outperformance, a group of investors was hailed as market gurus. However, they later encountered significant losses, proving that their initial success was more likely due to luck rather than actual skill.

Investors must take a more objective and analytical approach to avoid falling into the trap of confusing skill with luck. Analyzing outcomes for statistical significance and critically examining the factors behind success or failure can help distinguish genuine talent from random chance. Investors can make more informed and prudent decisions by looking for logical explanations rather than rushing to conclusions, steering clear of the pitfalls of mistaken attributions, and enhancing their potential for long-term success in the financial markets.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between skill and luck is vital in investing. A clear and rational assessment of investment outcomes can help investors avoid overestimating the impact of skill or dismissing the role of luck. By approaching the market with a discerning eye and seeking logical explanations, investors can enhance their ability to make wise and informed investment choices.

Mistake 8: Do You Avoid Passive Investing Because You Sense a Loss of Control?

In investing, there’s an age-old debate between active and passive strategies, each offering distinct advantages. However, one common mistake some investors make is opting for active management because they believe it provides control over their investments. In reality, this perception can be misleading.

Actively managed funds may appeal to some investors because they believe having a fund manager at the helm gives them greater control over their portfolio. However, the truth is that active fund managers often make frequent market-timing and stock-selection decisions, leading to a loss of control over the determinants of return. This “style drift” can result in investors losing control over their intended asset allocation and their portfolio’s risk and reward profile.

On the other hand, passive investing, through index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), offers a different approach. With passive funds, investors can retain complete control over their portfolio’s risks and rewards, as these funds aim to replicate the performance of a specific market index. Style drift is not an issue with passive funds, allowing investors to maintain a more disciplined and consistent investment approach.

Another alternative that some investors consider to retain control is purchasing individual stocks. While this may provide a sense of direct ownership, it also comes with challenges. Investing solely in individual stocks can lead to a lack of diversification, increasing the risk associated with the portfolio. Moreover, research has consistently shown that investors who attempt to pick individual stocks tend to underperform appropriate benchmarks over the long term.

Investors need to understand the benefits of passive investing to avoid the mistake of seeking false control over investments. Passive funds provide a disciplined and cost-effective way to achieve long-term financial goals while allowing investors to control their portfolio’s risks and rewards. By adopting a more passive approach, investors can focus on their broader investment strategy, avoid unnecessary style drift, and increase their chances of achieving favorable outcomes over time.

In conclusion, the desire for control can lead investors to make choices that may not be in their best interest. Active management may seem like a path to exert greater control, but it often results in unintended consequences. Embracing passive investing can provide a more reliable and controlled way to achieve financial goals while minimizing unnecessary risks and complexities. By understanding the advantages of passive strategies and maintaining a disciplined approach, investors can enjoy the benefits of proper control over their investments and increase their potential for long-term success.

ISMS 24: Larry Swedroe – Confusing Skill and Luck Can Stop You From Investing Wisely

Mistake 9: Do You Avoid Admitting Your Investment Mistakes?

Humans are naturally risk-averse and often find it challenging to admit mistakes, primarily when investing. The behavioral trait known as “regret avoidance” plays a significant role in this phenomenon, leading investors to avoid acknowledging and rectifying their investment errors.

One common manifestation of regret avoidance is holding on to securities with losses and refusing to sell them because of the discomfort of admitting the initial mistake. The emotional pain associated with realizing losses causes investors to be reluctant to part with losing assets, hoping they will eventually recover in value.

However, holding on to losing assets and hoping for a turnaround can be costly. Instead, investors should objectively assess whether they would buy the same security at its current price if they did not own it. If the answer is no, it may be time to cut their losses and reallocate capital more wisely.

Addressing investment mistakes early is far easier and less damaging than letting them fester and grow over time. By promptly admitting errors and making necessary adjustments, investors can protect their portfolios from further harm and increase the likelihood of achieving positive outcomes in the long run.

Another aspect of regret avoidance is the missed opportunity to harvest losses for tax purposes. Harvesting losses involves selling losing assets to offset other gains in the portfolio, effectively reducing the investor’s overall tax bill.

To overcome the paralysis caused by regret avoidance, investors should recognize the importance of tax management in their portfolios. Realizing losses for tax benefits is essential to a winning investment strategy, allowing investors to optimize their tax liabilities while maintaining a well-structured portfolio.

Regularly reviewing the portfolio and assessing whether each asset still aligns with the overall investment plan can help investors make more informed decisions about when to sell assets. By being proactive and objectively evaluating their investments, investors can avoid falling victim to regret avoidance and set themselves up for more successful and financially rewarding investment journeys.

In conclusion, admitting investment mistakes is crucial to becoming a more successful investor. Overcoming regret avoidance and addressing errors early can help protect and optimize the portfolio’s performance. By embracing a disciplined approach and tax-managing their investments, investors can confidently enhance their ability to achieve their financial goals and navigate the complexities of the market.

Mistake 10: Do You Pay Attention to the ‘Experts’?

In the investing world, expert advice holds significant allure for many investors seeking guidance in navigating the complexities of financial markets. Market gurus and financial experts often predict the stock market, interest rates, and the economy, tempting investors to act on their recommendations. However, it is essential to approach such advice cautiously, as relying too heavily on expert predictions can be detrimental to one’s investment portfolio.

The validity of expert recommendations is not always guaranteed, as experts themselves may be influenced by biases or career prospects, leading to potentially harmful advice. Evidence has shown that no matter what technique is employed to pick stocks, it is unlikely to outperform the market consistently. Despite this, people are drawn to certainty and often favor experts who provide definitive answers, even though certainty is rare in investing.

Studies on expert political judgment have revealed that professional economic forecasters do not consistently make accurate forecasts. In differentiating between “foxes” (those who draw on a wide range of experiences) and “hedgehogs” (those who view the world through a single defining idea), we can better understand the nature of expert predictions.

Furthermore, expertise does not necessarily translate into forecasting accuracy, and overconfidence and the hindsight effect can contribute to inaccuracies in expert forecasts. Many investment forecasters fall into the categories of not knowing where the market is going, knowing they don’t know, or pretending to know for financial gain.

While some expert advice holds value and should be considered, investors must exercise caution when relying solely on market and economic forecasts. Supported by substantial evidence, passive investing is an example of consensus expert advice that investors should seriously consider. Despite the evidence against the accuracy of expert forecasts, many investors still pay attention to them, often altering their investment plans based on such predictions.

In conclusion, investors must be discerning regarding expert advice in the financial realm. While some experts may provide valuable insights, it is essential to recognize the limitations and uncertainties inherent in predicting market movements and economic trends. By adopting a balanced approach incorporating evidence-based strategies like passive investing, investors can navigate the markets more confidently and enhance their chances of long-term success in achieving their financial goals.

ISMS 25: Larry Swedroe – Admit Your Mistakes and Don’t Listen to Fake Experts

Mistake 11: Do You Let the Price Paid Affect Your Decision to Continue to Hold an Asset?

The endowment effect is a powerful cognitive bias that can lead individuals to make poor investment decisions. It occurs when investors become emotionally attached to an asset they own, causing them to hold onto it even if they wouldn’t purchase it at its current market price. This emotional attachment can be particularly pronounced with inherited or sentimental assets, leading investors to hold onto them despite potential drawbacks.

However, financial assets should be viewed objectively, much like bottles of wine. It is crucial to evaluate them based on their current market value and how they fit into an individual’s overall investment plan. Stocks and mutual funds are not people with emotions, and investors should not hesitate to sell them if they no longer align with their investment strategy or are considered overpriced.

To avoid falling victim to the endowment effect, investors should ask themselves a critical question: “Would I buy this asset today as part of my overall investment plan?” If the answer is no or less than what they currently hold, it may be time to develop a disposition plan for that asset.

Investors should consider potential capital gains taxes when disposing of an “endowment asset,” such as inherited stock. To avoid paying these taxes, they may donate the asset to a charity, aligning their desire to contribute to a good cause with their financial objectives.

A pragmatic and objective approach to investment decisions can help investors overcome the endowment effect. By acknowledging the emotional biases and making decisions based on current market value and their overall investment plan, investors can optimize their portfolios and increase their chances of achieving their financial goals.

In conclusion, recognizing and addressing the endowment effect is crucial for making sound investment decisions. Emotional attachment to assets can lead investors astray and hinder the achievement of long-term financial objectives. By evaluating assets objectively, developing a disposition plan, and considering potential tax implications, investors can navigate the complexities of investment management more effectively and build a more robust and diversified portfolio.

Mistake 12: Are You Subject to the Fallacy of the “Hot Streak”?

Humans are prone to overestimating the significance of streaks and underappreciating the frequency of random occurrences. We tend to assign meaning to events likely to be mere chance, such as consecutive heads or tails in a coin toss. This cognitive bias, known as the “hot streak” fallacy, often finds its way into the investment world, leading investors to chase after actively managed funds that have experienced a few years of exceptional performance.

However, the reality is that such success is often the result of random events rather than the exceptional skill of the fund manager. Numerous studies have shown that trying to pick “hot” funds based on past performance is ineffective in consistently outperforming the market. Top-performing funds from one year are unlikely to maintain the same level of performance in the following years.

The “hot hand” strategy can be ineffective and costly, potentially leading to significant losses. A telling example is that of the 44 Wall Street Fund, which experienced a meteoric rise to become the best-performing fund, only to plummet and become the worst-performing fund in the subsequent decade.

To avoid falling prey to the “hot hand” fallacy, investors should exercise caution and skepticism when evaluating past performance as a predictor of future success. Instead, they should take a more objective and long-term approach to investment decisions. Analyzing comprehensive data and focusing on the fundamentals of the investments can provide more reliable insights and help make informed decisions.

In conclusion, the allure of the “hot streak” can be a pitfall for investors seeking success in the financial markets. Acknowledging the fallacy of assigning undue significance to short-term streaks is crucial for making prudent and sustainable investment choices. By resisting the temptation to chase after fleeting successes and instead focusing on a more disciplined and data-driven investment strategy, investors can increase their chances of achieving their financial goals and building a robust portfolio over the long term.

ISMS 26: Larry Swedroe – Are You Subject to the Endowment Effect or the Hot Streak Fallacy?

Mistake 13: Do You Confuse the Familiar With the Safe?

In investing, a common mistake many individuals make is confusing familiarity with safety when making investment decisions. It’s easy to assume that familiarity with a company or product makes it a safer investment choice. Moreover, investors often are biased towards investing in local or domestic companies, believing they are safer and better investments than their international counterparts.

However, this overconfidence in familiar investments can lead to an overweighting of domestic equities in a portfolio, neglecting the crucial benefits of diversification. Research has shown that investors tend to perceive international investments as riskier than they are, resulting in a tendency to avoid adding global assets to their portfolios.

Academic experts strongly recommend the inclusion of international assets in portfolios as they can significantly reduce risk through diversification. Global equities don’t always move in tandem with domestic equities, providing an essential hedge against market-specific risks.

A study comparing the performance of the S&P 500 Index (representing domestic equities) and the MSCI EAFE Index (representing international equities) in a portfolio found that combining the two indices outperformed either individually. This finding highlights the clear benefits of diversification, even though global assets may underperform in specific periods.

The belief that one market is safer should logically correspond to its expected return; assuming a call is safer while expecting higher returns is illogical. Including international assets in a portfolio acts as a hedge against currency risks and economic fluctuations, reducing the reliance on the performance of a single market.

Diversification, including international diversification, is akin to insurance that helps protect against poor performance in specific markets or currencies. By embracing diversification and avoiding confusing the familiar with the safe, investors can build more resilient portfolios and enhance their potential for achieving their long-term financial goals.

In conclusion, the familiarity bias can lead investors astray by causing them to overlook the potential benefits of international diversification. Overconfidence in familiar investments may lead to an unbalanced and less diversified portfolio, exposing investors to unnecessary risks. By recognizing the importance of diversification and understanding the value of international assets in reducing risk and enhancing returns, investors can create more robust and well-protected investment strategies.

Mistake 14: Do You Believe You Are Playing with the House’s Money?

In behavioral finance, “mental accounting” sheds light on how people categorize money differently based on its source or origin, often leading to irrational financial decisions. A captivating illustration of this phenomenon is the “Legend of the Man in the Green Bathrobe,” where a gambler, upon winning a significant sum, viewed it as the “house’s money” rather than his own, leading to reckless gambling and substantial losses.

Interestingly, investors also fall victim to the same mental accounting mistake. For instance, someone holding a stock with a high unrealized gain might consider it as the “house’s money,” leading to a reluctance to sell even if it makes logical sense to do so.

This mental accounting can have detrimental effects on an investor’s portfolio performance. By holding onto risky positions or failing to realize gains when appropriate, investors may jeopardize their financial goals and undermine the overall performance of their investment strategy.

To avoid falling into the trap of believing they are playing with the “house’s money,” investors should adopt a more structured and disciplined approach to decision-making. Developing and adhering to an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) can provide a clear framework for financial objectives and risk tolerance. Additionally, creating a rebalancing table will help investors stay on track and make rational decisions based on their predetermined financial plan, reducing the influence of mental accounting biases.

In conclusion, mental accounting can subtly influence investors and lead to suboptimal financial choices. By recognizing this cognitive bias and implementing tools like an Investment Policy Statement and rebalancing table, investors can foster more rational decision-making and ensure their investment strategy aligns with their long-term financial objectives. Breaking free from the illusion of playing with the “house’s money” empowers investors to take control of their financial future and build a more secure and prosperous path to success.

Mistake 15: Do You Let Friendships Influence Your Choice of Investment Advisors?

The line between friendship and business can be a tricky one to navigate, especially when it comes to selecting an investment advisor. This common mistake can lead to costly financial decisions and hinder one’s path to achieving their financial goals.

Consider the story of Rick and Phil, who both had a long-standing friendship with their mutual stockbroker, Marvin. Despite poor investment performance, Phil was hesitant to change advisors due to their shared history. On the other hand, Rick decided to evaluate his investments, and upon recognizing the subpar results, he chose to seek another advisor based on recommendations from co-workers and friends.

Rick’s decision to change advisors proved to be beneficial. He found a financial advisory firm that provided him with a tailored financial plan and adopted a passive investment strategy, which better aligned with his financial goals. Meanwhile, Phil remained reluctant to fire Marvin, struggling to separate the friendship from the business aspect, even though he knew deep down that Rick’s decision made logical sense.

However, over time, with the influence of Rick and his wife, Phil began to reconsider his stance. Eventually, he bravely met with Rick’s advisor, realizing the importance of prioritizing what was best for his financial well-being over their friendship.

The story’s moral emphasizes the significance of evaluating the cost of maintaining relationships with investment advisors who may not deliver satisfactory results. True friends should prioritize the individual’s financial well-being above their self-interest, recognizing the importance of sound financial planning and making rational choices.

In conclusion, separating friendships from business decisions can be challenging, but objectivity is critical when choosing an investment advisor. Evaluating the performance and alignment of an advisor’s strategies with your financial goals is essential for achieving success. While it may be difficult, putting the financial future first and seeking advice from professionals who can provide tailored solutions is crucial in building a secure and prosperous path to financial freedom.

ISMS 27: Larry Swedroe – Familiar Doesn’t Make It Safe and You’re Not Playing With the House’s Money

Connect with Larry Swedroe

Further reading mentioned

About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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