Develop a routine of successful investing habits.
When you’re investing for your financial future, practicing successful habits is a fundamental step in constructing a resilient portfolio. It’s evident that in the world of investing, money management can get complex. That’s why having the right habits ingrained in your investment approaches is important in bringing clarity to your decision-making and confidence in your portfolio management. Here are seven habits that will help guide you through investing decisions during unprecedented market movements.
Periodically review your investment plan.
Know what your specific financial goals are and develop an investment policy statement. An IPS is a plan that outlines investment objectives and goals for a particular investor drafted by the portfolio manager and their client. This can be a helpful tool to guide portfolio managers on implementing strategies to grow or preserve a client’s investments. Experts advise that clients stick with the initial plan even when drastic market changes occur; however, certain benchmarks should be monitored from time to time. You should examine your risk tolerance and investment plan every six months to ensure you’re on track with your investments when a financial crisis hits. “Changes will likely need to be made in accordance with a well thought out plan that was put in place before the first punch is landed,” says Tim Bain, president of Spark Assessment Management Group.
Invest in what you know.
While experienced investors can try to evaluate the quality of a company, more often than not, it can be difficult to define its overall valuation and understand its trends. Taylor Kovar, CEO of Texas-based Kovar Capital Management, says, “Don’t invest in something you’ve never heard of just because someone online said it was going to make you a millionaire.” It’s best to focus on companies with products that you’re familiar with, that way it will be easier to predict and understand the ebbs and flows of a company and, most importantly, help in managing your portfolio effectively. “Look in your closet [and] kitchen cabinet, and invest in the brand of the products you see,” he says. “This will help you invest in companies you actually enjoy. It’s like you are paying yourself every time you buy their products.”
Stay away from the latest fads.
Investors seeking yield in a low interest rate environment should try to steer clear of fads. This short-term phenomenon is prevalent during market underperformance and tends to be pretty risky. “It is psychologically very difficult to remain true to your patient investing convictions when it seems investors speculating in the latest fad (think cannabis or tech ‘unicorns’) are being rewarded,” says Robert Johnson, professor of finance at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. There are plenty of other ways to diversify your assets rather than putting your money at risk with fads. “One doesn’t need to chase the latest trend to have investment success. Quite the contrary, chasing investment trends can be hazardous to your wealth,” Johnson says.
Be honest with your risk tolerance.
At any stage of your investing journey, it’s important to know if you are a conservative or aggressive investor. Defining risk tolerance is a habit that directly aligns with your financial goals. But sometimes, it can be unclear on how to determine where you lie on the risk spectrum. “Many investors tend to overestimate their level of risk tolerance, which causes them to sell at the worst times,” says Jerry Verseput, president at Veripax Wealth Management in Folsom, California. Market sell-offs like the one in March are good opportunities for investors to assess their feelings honestly as they saw the value of their investments drop.
Keep educating yourself.
An expert tip: Keep reading about how the market is changing. With the pandemic in mind, think about how habits and behaviors are changing in the short term, how that will affect the long term and how future trends might evolve. “What is going to be long-lasting in work and personal life? Do you want to be [investing in] Kodak film or the person investing in digital cameras? Don’t believe what you hear as much as know-how and where to find the facts,” says Peter Creedon, CEO at Crystal Brook Advisors in New York City.
Save for retirement.
Keep investing in your future by adding into your retirement account each month — that’s the power of dollar-cost averaging. Even if some months are fewer than others, allocating some of your income to retirement savings consistently puts long-term investors in a better position toward meeting their future financial goals. You can measure how successful you are as a saver by monitoring your retirement score, an estimate of what your retirement income may look like according to the steps you are taking to save now. This estimation will predict whether you’re on target on meeting your retirement needs or if you need to boost your allocation. It will also give you an idea of how much you will need for retirement and what changes you need to make that happen.
Know when to seek assistance.
Many individual investors try to find “do it yourself” methods for investing. There’s a misconception that successful investors should be monitoring the markets constantly and hold a finance degree, but most experts say the biggest hurdle is knowing when to seek help and how to find the right financial advisor. One tip: Find out what kind of experience the advisor has and which investing strategies they often use. “Make sure in an interview that the advisor shares your investing values and has a well-defined process to develop an investment policy statement for you and your goals,” says Jamie Ebersole, founder and CEO of Ebersole Financial in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. “If you and your advisor are not aligned on these important issues, it will make for a very frustrating relationship.”
Setting yourself up for investing success.
— Periodically review your investment plan.
— Invest in what you know.
— Stay away from the latest fads.
— Be honest about your risk tolerance.
— Keep educating yourself.
— Save for retirement.
— Know when to seek assistance.
More from U.S. News