For years I have been working to eliminate emotion from investing, as I believe emotion causes bad decisions to be made. Anytime I look at an investment and decide I am holding it because I ‘hope‘ it will go up – indicates to me that emotion is entering into the decision process. In past posts I have referenced my investment model that I use to make investment decisions, and that has gone a long way towards using more analytics and less emotion when making decisions, but building an investing cadence has also helped.
Before I go too much into my investing process, let me digress and mention that some of my best investments have been made not using analytics, but using more thoughtful reasoning. Probably my two best stock investments ever were Microsoft in the early 90’s, and Amazon in the late 2000’s. Both of these stocks were ridiculously overpriced at the time and the analytics I used at that time would not support those investments. But I took a ‘gut level’ flyer on those because I reasoned out the long term trajectory of these companies (which my analytics tend to ignore) and took a flyer on these companies. I am sure there are examples of where this approach has burned me (and I conveniently erased those mistakes from memory), but I do think there are times where you have to look outside of analytics.
Over the years I have built a routine that helps me unemotionally make investment decisions that I share below – reasoning without emotion is still a critical factor.
My investment model attempts to predict which stocks will outperform the market in the following month. So I purposely rigged the model to unveil the next months predictions on the 20th of every month. So starting on the 20th, I look at my holdings, and compare them to projections, and make buy sell hold decisions to make over the next 10 days. I like to have my changes settled by the first of the month, so my portfolios reflect on the first of the month my plan for that month. This is important because at the start of the month I programmatically take a snapshot of my portfolios for performance measurement purposes. I try to limit my trades between the 1st and the 20th so that I can easily measure my performance metrics.
I think it is a positive to get away from trading for 20 days each month. I typically spend time during those periods researching investments, or making improvements to my investment model, or doing more creative thinking on investing in the future.
I have to admit though, I don’t get away from portfolio management completely during this time. Typically on the weekend, I will spend some time looking over my portfolio and filling in partial positions or trimming positions that might be too big. I try not to ever add new stock positions or sell out of positions during this time, I should always do that between the 20th and the 1st. But the nice thing about making some buy/sell decisions on the weekend is the market is closed. So on Monday morning, I can revisit those weekend decisions, and see if I Monday morning me agrees with weekend me.
I am fully aware more financial planners say it would be better to spend less time looking at your investments, and just buy and hold and let them grow organically. I would also recommend that for most investors; just buy low cost mutual funds and look a them quarterly/yearly. But for me, I can sleep better at night fully understanding my investments, and being fully accountable for my investment performance. If I find my approach underperforms my mutual fund benchmarks, I think I would throw in the towel and find something else to occupy my time. But if you are like me, and want to manage your investments, give some though to a routine that helps drive analytical decision making, and make sure you measure your performance.