Six areas of financial planning

Have you ever gone down the #Fintwit rabbit hole? According to fintwit.ai, #Fintwit is a vibrant community of investors on Twitter, who tweet trading ideas, active trades, personal portfolios and well thought out insights about financial securities. Millions of investors around the world are increasingly using Twitter to stay abreast of the financial market and make informed investment decisions.

This financially savvy community is almost as popular as the #BTC (bitcoin) and #crypto communities who are determined to be the next billionaires from investing in cryptocurrencies. They create boundless content on how to best the systems and one could easily spend days scrolling through all of the tweets.

The challenge with these strongly supported content-creating communities is that they have enormous influence and create the perception that investment planning and management is the main (or only) focus of financial planning. The reality is that investing is just one area of about six.

Financial planning is more about managing behaviour than managing money. This is why the first area is cash flow management.

CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

Some people refer to this as budgeting or a spending tracker. Ultimately, the goal is to have an enlightened conversation about where your money is going every month. Once we know that, we can plan how we can protect your assets and grow your assets.

RISK MANAGEMENT & PLANNING

From a financial perspective, we typically look at the different assets that need protecting; from your personal health to your income, accumulated savings and investments, this is a list that will keep changing throughout your life. Risk planning falls into two categories – your short term and long term risks. 

INVESTMENT PLANNING

Your accumulated savings are great for emergency funds and rainy-day savings, but for long term growth with the benefit of serious compounding interest, we need to plan on how you invest your wealth. This is all about growing your wealth and allowing your money to work for you. This is where the #Fintwit bunch are always abuzz with ideas – but at the end of the day, you need a person who you can trust and lean on to keep you committed to your investment plan.

TAX PLANNING STRATEGIES

As your wealth grows, your tax liabilities will increase. Optimising your portfolio becomes a necessary discussion in order to reduce the amount of money you will have to pay to The Man. There are loads of strategies to legally protect and grow your wealth without eroding it to tax.

RETIREMENT PLANNING

In a nutshell – this is a sum of money that will help you rely less on income generation later in life. It doesn’t mean you have to stop working, or stop adding value – it just means that you are working to create more freedom for yourself so that you don’t have to work every day in order to pay your monthly bills and finance the lifestyle that you’d like to live.

ESTATE PLANNING

All of this asset building, combined with your risk portfolio, creates value in your personal estate. It doesn’t have to be millions; whatever you’ve built will be taxed when you pass away. To plan for this and reduce that tax liability and associated fees, estate planning ensures that your loved ones will have access to most of what you’ve been able to provide for them.

These are the most common areas of financial planning: cash flow management, risk management, investment planning, taxing planning, retirement and estate planning. They create the starting blocks for our conversations to help you manage your behaviour to ultimately manage your money better.

The higher the fee, the better the value?

How do you decide on the better of two products you are not really familiar with or can’t visually tell the difference?

For example – I had to buy a new cellphone charger the other day, and there were two options – one was two-thirds the price of the other, but both were reasonably priced (according to my limited experience of buying chargers!).

I went with the more expensive one because the price tag convinced me that it would be the better choice. If I knew the industry, I would probably know that they were both made in the same factory in some far-off land – but the higher price convinced me of higher value.

You’d probably do the same. It’s the same with buying a car, paying for food at a restaurant, purchasing new shoes and just about everything else that we pay for. Price skews our perception of value.

It’s also the same for investment fees. Sometimes we can assume that the higher the fee, the better the return.

But – as we can see in the graph above, this is not the case for long-term investment strategies. Over time, fees can erode over 60% of our final portfolio value. That’s why, when it comes to hard and fast rules for fees and certainty in investing – they simply don’t exist.

However, we can say that in most cases, lower fees lead to higher returns.

As Occam Investing wrote in a recent blog, “There are no such things as laws in investing.”

When it comes to markets, we can never share the same level of certainty as we do in Newton’s laws of motion.

Trying to prove something in investing is like Newton trying to prove gravity exists in a world where sometimes things are pulled towards each other, sometimes they aren’t, sometimes the opposite happens, and sometimes something invisible comes out of nowhere and throws everything around a bit.

To make matters even more difficult, the environment in which we’re operating is always changing. Newton was able to prove gravity existed because the laws of physics never changed – he was able to run experiments while keeping everything else constant. But markets are always changing.

Investors can never really be sure of anything – we’re left to make the best of unprovable theories and confidence levels while navigating an environment in constant flux. But no matter how much changes in markets, no matter how many theories you choose to place confidence in, one thing will remain true regardless of approach.

All else equal, lower fees will result in better performance.

And although all else isn’t always equal, both the theory and the evidence show that the best and most consistent way to increase returns is to reduce fees.

This is a powerful conclusion for investors. While so much of what happens during our investing lifetime is outside our control, how much we pay for our investments is very much inside our control.

Given that the amount paid in fees is a great predictor of performance in investing, focussing on reducing fees is the most reliable way investors have to increase their odds of investing successfully.

If you’d like to read more of the technical analysis of this conclusion from Occam Investing in the UK, you can click here.

Déjà vu?

When we experience our first crisis, we think our world is about to end. It could have been our first unrequited love when we were 12, a rejection letter from an application when we were barely out of our teens, bad news from the doctor or an accident that leaves us dealing with a deep loss.

Sometimes it can be our hundredth crisis, and it can still leave us wondering how we can proceed; perhaps it sparks our emotions to do something wild or reckless, or maybe we feel the numbing reality that life is about to change significantly.

As Victoria Reuvers, Managing Director at Morningstar Investment Management South Africa, recently wrote – these experiences begin to feel like déjà vu? From rioting, demonstrations and political unrest to natural disasters, heatwaves and market crashes – we can’t help but ask: Have we been here before?

Not necessarily.

Reuvers goes on to say that “while it’s impossible to comprehend and rationalise what we are going through as families, communities and as a country, one thing that we know to be true, that we will survive this and we will rebuild this nation.

When the dust settles, and we sit at home and reflect, we find ourselves wondering about the future, and we worry. We worry about when/how life will ever return to ‘normal’. We worry about the health of our family, friends, and colleagues. We worry about the economy and work. We worry about money and our savings. While we are not able to guide all these worries, we can provide more context around money, savings, and investments.”

When markets rise and fall with the influence of investor emotion and sentiment, it’s only natural that many investors may grow tired of stomaching the unpredictable rollercoaster ride and would much rather prefer to place their feet on solid ground. As Reuvers says in her article: In the world of investments, the rollercoaster ride is equities, and cash is often seen as the solid ground.

From the graph of Morningstar Direct (featured above), we can see the 15 worst days on the JSE (the red bars) since the end of June 1995 and how the local market reacted after the drawdown. The blue bars show the 12-month returns investors experienced after the worst day, and the green bars show the five-year annualised returns after the drawdown.

For example, during the 2008 global financial crisis on 06/10/2008, there was a loss of -7.12% for the day, but the subsequent one-year return amounted to 22.41%, and the annualised five-year return was 19.24%.

During times of negativity and volatility (which may feel like déjà vu), many advisers would tend to recommend to investors who are in Equities to retain their exposure to this asset class since experience shows us that short-term phenomenon generally should not detract from the long-term value of equities.

When this is the case, price declines may produce buying opportunities. Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “you don’t buy or sell a business based on today’s headlines. If the market gives you a chance to buy something you like and you can buy it even cheaper, then it’s your good luck.”

Ultimately, investors should remain calm and remember that time in the market is superior to timing the market.

Investing in the equity market is a long-term pursuit and is best used to reach long-term goals such as retirement. As the saying goes – a river cuts through a rock, not because of its power, but its persistence.

The habit of investing is one of the best habits you have within your control. Doing nothing and staying the course is still a decision. It is often during these difficult times that we have the greatest opportunity to add value for our clients, acting rationally when others struggle to do so.

(Please contact me if you’d like a copy of Victoria Reuvers’ article)

A round tuit – and a bit about dread disease cover

There’s a rare object known as a tuit. It’s a special gift to keep for yourself, but also has great value for your friends and family. Tuits, especially round ones, will generally have a note or inscription along the following lines:

This is a Round Tuit. 

Guard it with your life!

Tuits are hard to come by, especially the round ones.

It will help you become a much more efficient worker.

For years you’ve heard people say

“I’ll do that when I get a round tuit.”

So now that you have one, 

you can accomplish all those things you put aside,

until you got a Round Tuit.

It’s easy to put off important decisions until tomorrow. When there’s too much to think about, we’d rather do it ‘when we have more time’; we’ll take care of it when we get around to it. The problem is that all too often we never get around to it until it’s too late.

Taking out the extra insurance before we have that accident, fixing the leak before it rains, finishing a presentation before the deadline… we all have our stories of occasions where we were confident that we’d get around to it – but didn’t.

Dread disease cover is one such conversation that is never easy to have and is often put off until we get around to it; partly because it’s not nice to talk about or spend money on, and partly because it’s fairly complex.

Sometimes called CI cover, dread disease cover is different to disability cover, which protects you and your finances after an accident temporarily or permanently leaves you unable to work. 

In a similar way, dread disease cover is there for when a health setback floors you temporarily or for a longer period of time. From strokes or heart attacks to serious illnesses like cancer, this cover helps you focus on your recovery without having the added stress of loss of income each month just when your medical and associated expenses are skyrocketing.

When the average person thinks of cancer, a tumour or a stroke, they imagine the worst. And no one likes thinking about it… it will never happen to us anyway, right?

But in reality, these things are more common than we realise and are not a death sentence – far from it.

“Statistics confirm there is a high likelihood of contracting a major illness such as heart disease or cancer. And thanks to advances in medical technology, people are more likely to survive these illnesses than ever before,” Old Mutual’s Ferdi Booysen says in insurance publication FA News.

Research shows that one of the single biggest impediments to recovery in any illness (barring chronic mental illness) is stress. Research also shows that finances are one of the biggest things that people are concerned about when ill – a vicious and ironic circle.

And they’re not wrong. There are lots of little unforeseen expenses surrounding illness and hospitalisation. Even if you have an amazing medical aid in place, there will be things the medical aid doesn’t cover. And what about other things you may need, like therapy for you and your spouse after the trauma of a stroke?

With dread disease cover, it’s easier to relax and focus on recuperation knowing that everything is in place. In fact, most CI cover pays out a lump sum so that you can decide what’s important for your recovery journey.

Falling seriously ill or having a health episode is never pleasant, but it is a fact of life – and it needn’t be the end of it. In fact, it can be the start of a whole new one.

Those who have experienced these things with the support of insurance and the ability to focus on themselves rather than being forced to work when physically unable, often describe their journeys as powerful wake-up calls that helped them “get around to it” and improve their lives.

Have you been offered early retirement? (Part 1)

For many years we’ve been having better conversations about retirement. It’s no longer a matter of finding a job, staying in it for 40 years, and then retiring for fifteen years under the assumption that the company pension scheme will finance that entire period for us. 

It simply doesn’t work that way anymore.

Finding a job can take considerably longer; the chances of us staying in one position for more than ten years, saving early (and long) enough and the span of our retirement years have all changed and created new challenges for how we plan our lives and our money.

In a recent article by Dinash Pillay, National Business Development Manager at Glacier, he also highlighted the impact of global lockdowns that have forced thousands of businesses to close or downscale. This has led to an increase in employees, who are a few years away from retirement, being offered early retirement without the usual penalties for cashing in prematurely.

As the article says, this may be an attractive option if you are an employee in your mid-50s. 

However, before you grab the opportunity, make sure you have a robust plan in place. In this blog, we look at the first part of Pillay’s commentary; the next blog post will have a handy to-do list to help with the decision-making process around early retirement.

Retirement needs a plan.

Most people don’t think about their retirement before they are already in it.  Planning is of paramount importance, and financial planning is central to the big decision that you’re facing. 

Here are some questions to answer long before you exit your workplace for good:

  • Have I saved enough during my working years? 
  • Is my employee retirement fund the only retirement savings that I have accumulated?
  • What monthly income will my retirement savings provide after I retire?  
  • Who depends on my income now?
  • Who will depend on me financially into the future?
  • Is the home I own fully paid for?
  • Am I debt-free?
  • I’m healthy now, but what if I get ill or develop a chronic illness or I’m disabled – what do I do then?
  • At work, I have purpose, focus and tasks that fill my day. Will I have a new purpose as a retiree?

It’s important to remember that the basic principle around investing is that the longer we can stay in the market, the more time our money has to grow from the benefits of compounding interest. For most retirement investment plans, the most growth happens in the final few years. Often, but not always, it’s wiser to try and push back your first date of drawing down on your retirement savings.

Everyone is different and it’s best to check with your personal financial adviser when considering these profound life changes. Take a look at the next blog for the checklist of five to-dos before taking early retirement.

Source article

A powerful mental trick to master the markets

If someone is selling something, their primary goal is most often to convince you to buy what they’re selling. If you follow financial accounts on social media, your timeline is likely crowded with people touting the next big winning investment.

As we look back on market history, there is an obvious attraction to finding the big winner – the tiny tech stock that turns into the next Amazon or the virtual coin that makes overnight millionaires.

Winning is ingrained into our psyche. It’s coded into our core ideologies from formative schooling and is reinforced through our induction into adulthood and the working world. 

The class that raises the most money gets free burgers on Friday, the kid with the highest grades earns the scholarship, the student with the best performance wins the grant, and the employee with the best ratings secures the promotion.

But what if, instead of chasing the big win, we invested our money with the goal of simply not losing? It’s a powerful mental trick that doesn’t seem to ‘come naturally’.

Chances are, you’ll come out ahead, says behavioural finance expert Brian Portnoy, founder of Shaping Wealth and author of “The Geometry of Wealth.” 

He says that “Adopting inverted thinking — facing problems from the opposite point of view — is such a powerful mental trick. The world becomes a brighter and cleaner place once you get used to it.”

Here’s what he means.

Win by avoiding big mistakes. Portnoy’s perspective on investing has been around, in one form or another, for decades. In a recent Twitter thread on the topic, he cited investment consultant Charley Ellis’ 1975 research paper “The Loser’s Game,” in which Ellis argued that winning at investing was akin to winning at tennis.

There are two ways to win with a racket, Ellis wrote. If you’re a pro, you hit high-speed, well-placed shots to defeat your opponent. But for amateur players, the vast majority of points are won and lost when an opposing player makes an error. Amateurs can triumph merely by keeping the ball in play and making fewer mistakes than their opponent.

When we see someone selling “the next big sure-investment win” – we mustn’t get taken in. 

“That’s sample bias at work,” says Portnoy. “We see the winners because they’re on the cover of magazines, but there are many more losers out there. We don’t see them, but they’re there.”

If we’re honest with ourselves, “we’re amateurs at most of the games we play,” Portnoy says. “Trying not to lose is often the most prudent thing to do.”

Great thinkers, icons, and innovators think forward and backwards. They consider the opposite side of things. Occasionally, they drive their brain in reverse. This way of thinking can reveal compelling opportunities for innovation and lies at the heart of inverted thinking. It’s a powerful mental trick that can help us master the markets by seeking to stay invested for the long term rather than trying to time a winner and potentially lose everything.

Source article

How does the stock market work?

The fastest way to lose half of your money is not a stock market crash but a divorce, separation or a poor business decision (so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page with your partner when it comes to joint finances.)

Many have felt disheartened by the stock market in recent times, especially with the historic GameStop trading fiasco. It’s easy to feel confused and assume the market is rigged against the smaller investors.

However, the small-time investor could have a ton of advantages over the pros. They don’t need to pay attention to short-term performance or benchmarks or made-up risk-adjusted return metrics. They can play the long game and not worry about all the stuff professional investors are forced to obsess over.

In Ben Carlson’s book, Everything You Need To Know About Saving For Retirement, he talks about how the stock market works. This is an edited extract from chapter eight.

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After getting engaged my wife and I began having some deeper philosophical conversations about how we would run our joint finances. We were in our mid-to-late 20s at the time so I informed her I would like to put the majority of our retirement savings into the stock market.

My wife, like most normal people, did not know much about the stock market except for what she heard on the news or saw on TV and in the movies. She did not give much thought to investing in stocks. So when I told her we would be saving the bulk of our retirement money in stocks (especially when we were younger) she was initially concerned.

What follows is more or less what I told her (and despite going through this exercise she still agreed to marry me if you can believe it).

The stock market is the only place where anyone can invest in human ingenuity. It is a bet on the future being better than today. Stocks can be thought of as a way to ride the coattails of intelligent people and businesses as they continue to innovate and grow. Short of owning your own business, buying shares in the stock market is the simplest way to own a slice of the business world.

The greatest part about owning shares in the stock market is you can earn money by doing nothing more than holding onto them. When companies pay out dividends to shareholders, you get cold hard cash sent to your brokerage or retirement account which you can choose to either reinvest or spend as you please.

Many people compare the stock market to a casino but in a casino the odds are stacked against you. The longer you play in a casino, the greater the odds you’ll walk away a loser because the house wins based on pure probability. It’s just the opposite in the stock market.

The longer your time horizon, historically, the better your odds are at seeing positive outcomes. Now these positive outcomes don’t guarantee a specific rate of return, even over longer time frames. If the stock market were consistent in the returns it spits out, there would be no risk.

If there were no risk, there would be no wonderful long term returns. And because there is risk involved when owning stocks, your returns can vary widely depending on when you invest in the stock market.

It has been possible to lose money over decade-long periods in the past. Even 20 to 30 year results can see a big spread between the best and worst outcomes. However, it is worth noting that even the worst annual returns over 30 years in the history of the U.S. stock market would have produced a total return of more than 850%. This is the beauty of compounding. The worst 30 year return for the S&P 500 gave you more than 8x your initial investment.

$10,000 dollars invested in the S&P 500 in the year:

  • 2010 would be worth $37,600 by September 2020
  • 2000 would be worth $34,200 by September 2020
  • 1990 would be worth $182,300 by September 2020
  • 1980 would be worth $918,500 by September 2020
  • 1970 would be worth $1,623,500 by September 2020
  • 1960 would be worth $3,445,000 by September 2020

I’m ignoring the effects of fees, taxes, trading costs, etc. here but the point remains that over the long haul, the stock market is unrivaled when it comes to growing money. And the longer you’re in it the better your chances of compounding.

Having said all of that, there is an unfortunate side-effect of this long term compounding machine. Stocks can rip your heart out over the short term. If there is an ironclad rule in the world of investing, it’s that risk and reward are always and forever attached at the hip. You can’t expect to earn outsized gains if you don’t expose yourself to the possibility of outsized losses. The reason that stocks earn higher returns than bonds or cash over time is because there will be periods of excruciating losses.

The stock market is fueled by differences in opinions, goals, time horizons and personalities over the short term and fundamentals over the long term. At times this means stocks overshoot to the upside and go higher than fundamentals would dictate. Other times stocks overshoot to the downside and go lower than fundamentals would dictate. The biggest reason for this is because people can lose their minds when they come together as a group. As long as markets are made up of human decisions it will always be like this. Think about how crazy fans can get when their team wins, loses or gets screwed over by the refs. These same emotions are at work when money is involved.

How you feel about investing in the stock market should have more to do with your place in the investor’s lifecycle than your feelings about volatility.

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Remember, the stock market isn’t the only way to invest money, but it helps us with portfolio diversification, a well-practised strategy for protecting our future wealth.

Is anchoring holding you back?

One of the challenges of financial planning is its complexity. Not only is it mathematically layered, but it’s also fraught with bias and emotional influence. For most of us, we only scratch the surface of about seven areas of financial planning and allow experts to make recommendations and decisions that will hopefully create a better financial position for us in the future.

When it comes to investing (just one area in about seven), there are loads of biases that can either help or hinder the protection and growth of our assets. This makes asset management and investment planning a constantly evolving landscape and requires several types of niche specialists.

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that often comes into play when we are trying to establish the value of something.

This doesn’t only apply to investing – it applies to commodities and services across the board. Every day, we rely on the anchoring bias to help us form a perception of value, from standing in the fresh foods aisle to standing in a second-hand car lot or calling around to find a plumber to fix a leak.

“People make estimates by starting from an initial value that is adjusted to yield the final answer,” explained Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in a 1974 paper. “The initial value, or starting point, may be suggested by the formulation of the problem, or it may be the result of a partial computation. In either case, adjustments are typically insufficient. That is, different starting points yield different estimates, which are biased toward the initial values.”

This means that we tend to rely too heavily on the very first piece of information we learn, which can seriously impact the decision we end up making. And, living in a world where we have far more access to information than ever before, complicates our decision-making exponentially.

So – can we avoid it? Well, according to Investopedia, not entirely. Here are some ideas they offer to manage our anchoring bias.

Studies have shown that some factors can mitigate anchoring. Still, it is difficult to avoid altogether, even when we are aware of the bias and deliberately try to avoid it. In experimental studies, telling people about anchoring, cautioning them that it can bias their judgment, and even offering them monetary incentives to avoid anchoring can reduce, but not eliminate, the effect of anchoring.

If you are selling something or negotiating a salary, you can start with a higher price than you expect to get as it will set an anchor that will tend to pull the final price up. If you are buying something or a hiring manager, you would instead start with a lowball level to induce the anchoring effect lower.

Ultimately, if we can’t avoid anchoring, we should at least try to use it to our advantage. In financial planning, we have a process called due diligence. This helps us obtain as much relevant information as possible to a specific decision to help us create a close-to-accurate anchor.

Crypto can be taxing

One of the early appeals for cryptocurrencies was that they would not be taxed as they are not fiat currencies (yet), in that they are not owned by a country or used for trade inside of geographical tender regulations.

However, as these platforms grow and develop, we are seeing that this is most likely not the case. According to several governments, cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are classified as “intangible assets” – as opposed to, say, property or currency. 

These definitions differ slightly in different regions, but for the most part, gains or losses related to cryptocurrencies can be classified into three categories or scenarios, each of which could result in different tax consequences:

  1. A cryptocurrency can be acquired through so-called “mining”. Mining is conducted by the verification of transactions in a computer-generated public ledger, achieved through the solving of complex computer algorithms. The “miner” is rewarded with ownership of new coins by verifying these transactions, which become part of the networked ledger. This gives rise to an immediate accrual or receipt on successful mining of the cryptocurrency. This means that until the newly acquired cryptocurrency is sold or exchanged for cash, it is held as trading stock, which can be realised through either a normal cash or barter transaction.

  2. Investors can exchange local currency for a cryptocurrency (or vice versa) by using cryptocurrency exchanges, which are essentially markets for cryptocurrencies, or through private transactions.

  3. Goods or services can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies. This transaction is regarded as a barter transaction. Therefore the regional barter transaction rules apply. 

While the initial receipt of cryptocurrency from mining is classified as income for tax purposes, revenue services may apply a distinct set of tax rules to the cryptocurrency’s subsequent disposition. Short-term trading to generate daily wages is considered income for tax purposes, but long-term investments (usually exceeding three years) are subject to capital gains tax. 

We are already reading reports of treasuries extending their cryptocurrency audit and detection services by many global media outlets. In addition, some have publicly listed employment opportunities geared explicitly towards cryptocurrency tracking.

According to recommendations, taxpayers who treat cryptocurrency transactions in a way that is inconsistent with their respective tax laws may face penalties. As a result, you must stay up to date on the newest developments in crypto tax legislation if you own crypto.

Dualistic Thinking

Dualistic thinking assumes a universe where there are only two opposing, mutually incompatible options or realities. This type of thinking is either/or, good/bad, negative/positive, and has a significant impact on our beliefs and behaviours.

Our development is stymied by dualistic thinking. The sooner we can break free from this either/or mindset, the sooner we can nurture greater success in the workplace and in our personal lives.

This either/or mentality contributes to our fears and concerns by presuming the false restriction that no other choices exist. We might feel confined, perceiving little freedom when we think in this way.

We may feel trapped or powerless in a circumstance when our options, choices, and determination appear to be limited. We tend to react emotionally in such cases, sometimes not even aware of the reasons why. 

Dualistic thinking hinders our personal and professional progress because we rarely allow for a range of options. We rate the situations and people around us on a binary scale. We reduce our capacity to see alternative possibilities by limiting ourselves to only two options.

Our psychological bias is a significant hazard of dualistic thinking. The “snake bite” effect, for example, occurs when an investor has a bad experience with an investment that causes them to be more cautious in future investment decisions, lowering their return potential.

The fear of regret and feeling like we have made a decision that is inherently ‘wrong’ leads to this bias. One way to counter this effect is to adopt a strategy that closely adheres to predetermined investing criteria and eliminates most of the decision-making process on what to purchase, when to purchase, and how much to purchase.

Using rules-based trading techniques decreases the likelihood of an investor making a discretionary decision based on previous investment success.

We create unrealistic expectations when we consider simply “good” and “bad”. Whatever decision you make will have implications, some of which will be unexpected.

Those implications may appear to be a choice between what you leave behind against what you get, or there may be aspects of both that you appreciate. It’s crucial to recognise that it’s often impractical to expect our actions to only have two possible outcomes; we should always look for a third outcome to help balance our expectations.

Once we have realised this, we can concentrate on what appears to be the best course of action for our personal circumstances.