Are you making the best investing decisions?

Investing decisions should be well thought out and based on these sound investing strategies

It’s essential to avoid letting an investment opinion turn into a fixed idea about the future. Instead, keep an open mind. Nobody can consistently predict what stocks will do. You should always look on your opinions as tentative and subject to continual review, in light of any new information that comes along.

If you develop a fixed idea about what happens next or in the future, chances are you’ll quit considering new developments or contrasting opinions. You may decide you don’t need any new information, since you already know the answer!

Worse, you may develop an unconscious filtering mechanism. You may zero in and dwell on news and commentary that supports your fixed idea, while disregarding news and commentary that supports other points of view.

Investing decisions made from broker jargon

Stock broker jargon can slant your investment decisions. Some of this stock broker jargon is simply shorthand that brokers use amongst themselves, to refer to familiar situations without having to explain the underlying concept. However, the concepts that these “broker-ese” words and phrases represent are just naturally conducive to furthering the goals of the brokerage business.

If you find yourself thinking in broker-ese, you’ll naturally make assumptions that are in tune with the goals of your stock broker, and may be out of tune with yours.

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Stock market advice: Gains add up for bottom-up investors

Over periods of five years and beyond, top investment honours mostly go to a member of the bottom-up crowd. That’s partly because bottom-uppers tend to make fewer big mistakes. This lets their gains accumulate. This also leads to longer holding periods, which provide greater tax deferral and lower brokerage costs.

The top-down approach appeals to beginning investors, when they have not yet learned how little they know. (That’s a good time for it, when you have little money to invest and can’t do yourself much harm.) By the time they build up enough of a stake to begin serious investing, most advisors and investors have settled on a mix of top-down and bottom-up. As years pass, successful investors tend to put more weight on bottom-up. They like the way it cuts risk.

Sometimes, a top-down idea acquires way too much influence on way too many investors.

How to avoid jinxing your portfolio

If you try to profit by acting on market predictions, it will often cost you money.

Investors try to improve their returns by taking money out of the stock market when they feel risk is high. They often get this urge after a few weeks or months of bad financial news or unsettling political developments. By then, however, the market may have already dropped far enough to offset any negative developments. Often, these temporary sellers wind up buying their way back into the market when the news has improved and stock prices have gone above the price where they sold.

All too often, brokers encourage this costly practice. They may advise clients to “take some money off the table”, setting up a false analogy between investing and gambling. That’s in a broker’s interest.

Every sale generates a commission. It also gives the broker the opportunity to sell the client something new and make another commission. The investor may re-invest in a product that’s more profitable for the broker—selling the proceeds of a stock sale to buy an annuity or a universal life insurance policy, say. However, investors who use discount brokers to trade also manage to sell low and buy back high, without any broker encouragement.

Building a portfolio for the long term—not avoiding “dead money” stocks—is key to investment success

Rather than trying to stay out of so-called “dead-money” stocks, it’s better to focus on building a portfolio that can produce a growing stream of dividends for you, plus long-term gains.

That’s your goal as an investor. It differs and often clashes with the goal of the brokerage business, which is to sell you investments.

What are some of the major investing decisions you’ve made during your investing career? Does this article shed light on anything you have experience with? If so, share your experience in the comments.


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