My Personal Investor's Manifesto

#finance 3 min.

Discipline is hard, even when you know exactly what to do. This is intended as a rational reminder for myself and anyone else tempted to deviate from a passive investment strategy.

Principles

I’m not a professional investor and have no aspirations to become one. I have no edge. My time is better spent creating products and services, not reading income statements.

There is no free lunch. The only way to get higher returns is to accept higher risks.

I do not trade my assets frequently. That’s speculation, not investing.

Lump sum investing is empirically the best approach. Dollar-cost averaging is second-best.

I cannot time the market. I don’t know how high or how low the market will go until it has already happened.

Market corrections are overrated anyway. They rarely go as deep or last as long as you’d expect. See April 2020 or March of 2022 for more recent examples.

Markets react to uncertainty, but uncertainty doesn’t last. News go around, analysts do their jobs, the unthinkable becomes mundane, and risks get priced in. Markets move on within days and weeks.

I believe in maxing out government incentives. Many of my peers have a general distrust of any government initiative and think of them as traps. I live in a free and democratic country with relatively low corruption, so it’s not unreasonable for my and the government’s interests to align.

I believe everyone’s too concerned about market risks, and not enough about systemic risks. Things like your bank having issues, legal troubles, cyber-attacks, fraud, etc. The answer to both risks is the same - diversification. That means spreading investments not only across multiple markets and sectors but also across multiple banks and jurisdictions.

Like everything else in life, fund fees are subject to diminishing returns. Reducing fees from 1% to 0.5% will have a much higher impact than going from 0.5% to 0.25%. Lower is better, but once you get below 0.5%, other considerations become more important.

Practicalities

At least 90% of my investment portfolio consists of low-cost, total world market funds.

My money is invested automatically every week. I review my portfolio and contributions once a year.

That said, I believe in discounts. If there’s a 3-5% short-term correction (not uncommon, happens a few times per year), and I have extra cash, I’ll load up on the discounted assets that I’d buy anyway.

I prefer accumulating funds over distributing ones. They are tax-efficient and require even less work, as there are no dividends to declare each year (may vary in your jurisdiction!).

I don’t believe asset allocations of less than 10% are meaningful. If I’m not willing to invest 10% or more of my portfolio into an asset, I don’t bother.

That said, I believe in moonshots. If there’s a small, but real chance an asset might appreciate 10x in a decade, I might go for it. The total amount of these “lottery tickets” will never exceed 10% of my portfolio. The allocation MUST be kept low for me to remain comfortable with the risk.

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Wanna reach out? Drop me a line: golb.sadat@olleh.

2011-2022