September. No matter how old I get, I always associate this time of year with "back to school." A start of a new year of learning and new challenges. A time to embrace new ideas and adjust your old routines and habits. A chance to reflect on what you know and what you may not have fully understood in the past.
I realize the majority of us are no longer going "back to school" ourselves, but what if we apply some of those same learnings and rituals to investing? Why not. Sharpen your pencils, take your seats, and let's get started.
1.) Focus on the high-level goal
School years were always easier for me when I could focus on a high-level goal. Same goes for investing. Take a minute to put aside all the "noise" and complex language that accompanies investing and try to focus on why you started. What are you trying to achieve? Is it saving for retirement, providing for your children's education, starting a new business, securing a safety net for the future, or some combination of the above? Try to be a specific as possible. For this year, I encourage you to work hard to define your higher-level goal (we are happy to assist in that discovery as well). And then communicate that to us as clearly as possible. Once armed with your high-level goal, we can more precisely channel the details of your investment approach.
2.) Study and do your homework
Managing your money and pursuing your goals is not a passive activity. It cannot be reduced to a few soundbites you hear on CNBC or one article you read in the Wall Street Journal or a comment you overhear at a cocktail party. It is a comprehensive and ongoing homework exercise that requires you to pay careful attention to all sources of information AND to efficiently and accurately funnel out what truly matters. To help you in this effort, we will begin to summarize key data points we pay attention to and share those with you as we meet. It's our job to monitor and make portfolios moves on your behalf - put it remains important that you too understand what's happening with your wealth and avoid taking action on data that may be leading you in the wrong direction
3.) Be comfortable being an outlier
Just like when we were in school, it is considerably easier to be a part of the "in crowd" - to blend in instead of standing out. Same goes for investing. We are psychologically wired to move with the crowd - buying when everyone seems to be buying and markets are going up, and running for the exits at the same time as everyone else. Fight to stay true to your convictions and your goals. It matters what you are doing and why you are doing it - not what the person next to you is doing. As Warren Buffett says, "be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful"
4.) Take advantage of office hours
I was a teaching assistant for Accounting 101 while at UW Madison, and I never could understand why more students didn't come to office hours. Why not seek out the customized instruction and advice? How could you not benefit from someone explaining a topic to you in your language and at your level? Same goes for investing and your wealth journey. We are here to manage your portfolios but also to help you pass this course called investing with flying colors. So please know, our doors are always open!
Welcome back to school, everyone! We look forward to another great year and achieving continued success - together.