What people say they believe about financial risk and the way they think they’ll act under market stress is often contradicted by their behavior. Long-term investors frequently become short-sighted at the first sign of trouble. Many times this reaction is brought on by answering an investment questionnaire under the influence of recency bias.
Volatility. Investors hate it. Any downturn in stocks creates fear for even the most experienced investor. We can’t get around it. The feeling is natural. When something is cutting away at our net worth, we want to stop it. “It would be nice to have my money in cash right now,” our minds tell us, even though we know that’s not in our best long-term interest.
There are two categories of investors in this world: performance takers and performance seekers. A performance taker is satisfied with earning a fair share of the market’s return and weathering the risk that comes with it. A performance seeker wants more return and less risk, and pays for it in more than one way.
Beating the market using mutual funds isn’t easy. The hope of finding fund managers who steadily beat their benchmarks may seem like a worthwhile venture, but the only people who seem to earn steady profits from active mutual fund strategies are companies selling products. A persistent “performance gap” exists between investor returns and the returns of the funds they invest in.
I love you man, but you’re wrong! Legionary Fidelity Magellan fund manager Peter Lynch wrote “buy what you know” in his classic book, One Up on Wall Street: How to use what you already know to make money in the market. The basic principle is simple: you’re more likely to be successful in the market if you buy what you’re familiar with. Peter Lynch was wrong; or at least he wasn’t quite right.