Luck vs. Skill – Part 1 of 2
I think it could be very likely that we underestimate the role of Luck or even just simple Market Beta, whereby Markets over the long term tend to go up; so as long as we hold a large enough basket of half-decent Quality Stocks, then it is almost impossible not to make money if we are swimming with the powerful flow of the river.
I’ve been fixated by this subject for some time now and we even discussed it in the Podcast TPI 36 which you can hear here:
It’s been obvious to me for a long time that Luck, both Good and Bad, has quite an impact on the performance of my Portfolio and I suspect many Investors (and Traders) might not fully appreciate, or even bother considering, what kind of influence Luck has.
In Support of Specialisation
This Blog builds on one I wrote back on the 3rd September 2020 on the subject of focus and specialisation, which you can read here:
I doubt this will be all that long (as usual with my Blogs, I tend to have little idea of how much will be in them until I actually crack on and get some text down on my electronic paper), and the approach I am using is to take some text from an excellent article that Chris Dillow wrote in ‘Investors Chronicle’ on 9th August 2019 on page 18 with the title ‘Is ethical investing doomed?’, and then I will add my own comments around this text (Chris’ text is in italic).
Don’t be fooled by the title of Chris’ article, I am not really focusing on the ethical funds but more the principles around what Chris is saying. Perhaps there will be the side-benefit that we can learn something about ethical funds as a bonus !!
On the morning of 11th September 2020, for some unknown reason it came into my mind about the kinds of Returns that people can make on Leveraged Spreadbet Accounts - and I got a bit carried away and chucked loads of Tweets out. I think there was some really valuable stuff in there and as a result I have copied the Tweets into this Blog and embellished them with some further comments and hopefully more clarity where appropriate.
The original Tweet text (with spelling errors corrected !!) is shown in italic and the new text is not in italic !!
As per the heading, back on Friday 5th June 2020 I went a bit nuts and was lying in bed at some crazy time like 5am in the morning, and my head was utterly buzzing with thoughts about my Approach (my System), how I was Executing it, and how I needed to Optimize what I was doing. I have taken the original Tweets and shoved them into this Blog and they are in italic text. I have then added underneath in many places some further comments to try to make it clearer to Readers. I hope you like it.
Yet more Thoughts on Hedging
I have no doubt that regular Readers (please no Wheelie, I can’t take anymore purile and unimaginative All-Bran references), will be well aware of my borderline imbecilic obsession with Hedging my Portfolio and you must be exasperated beyond belief to see that I am writing about this well-treaded subject yet again. Anyway, it is what it is, and after the recent heavy sell-off in the Markets (which after all is exactly why I have been mucking about with Hedging for so many years, in anticipation and preparation for such an event) I feel it would be worthwhile to just get down in blog format some thoughts and observations etc. that have arisen after this episode and the Global tragedy of the Coronavirus.
Overall I am quite pleased with the Hedging I did although of course in an Ideal World I could have done it better. I guess my main area of weakness was in not Hedging in larger size (more on this in due course) and I would say another failure was in not getting a big enough Short on early enough. Other than that, and some moments of panic when I shorted more and really was lucky to get away with it, I am overall fairly happy.
My mate Simon Jackson kindly wrote this Guest Blog to try to capture some of the essence of how the recent Market collapse has played out from his point of view. Having read it through for the proof-read, I can say it is a very helpful piece and brings some perspective to what is going on and also shows how someone with Simon’s background of Accountancy can make errors. I particularly endorse his comment that it would be a big shame if newer Private Investors get scared off and leave the great game. I had to smile also when I read his words about selling his Winners too fast !! (or in this particular case his selling being perhaps motivated by simply the relief at getting back to break-even after a difficult Investment had turned around.)
Anyway, it’s a really good read and BIG THANKS to Simon for providing WD Readers with this and for helping me fill up my Website with yet more content !!
Cheers mate, Pete.
I’m fairly certain I have written a similar Blog to this many years ago and I think it might have been titled with the use of the word ‘Roadmap’ or something; but I can’t be too motivated to dig it out and I don’t think it will hurt one little bit to scribble out something new which might have some additional thoughts in it and certainly is in tune with the current zeitgeist.
However, I have been enthused to write this because the recent plunge in the Markets and the behaviours and activity I have witnessed on Twitter etc. have highlighted to me that so many People do not have any kind of Strategy and even less do they have a Flexible Plan that is able to adapt fairly quickly to changing circumstances. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of thinking ahead yet it is vital that you do this. The most obvious manifestation of this is that a large number of People are clearly ‘Uber Bulls’ and they in essence remain pretty much 100% Invested whatever the Markets do. This has proven to be a very profitable and wise approach for the last 12 years of a rampant Bull Market, but the idea that this will always be the case is in essence very naïve and dangerous.
Fairly recently I caused a bit of a stir on the Tweets when I suggested that People who have regular payment plans into Funds (normally Unit Trusts – see my ‘Funds’ page for definitions of what the different types of Funds actually are), might be wise to suspend the automatic payments prior to the Coronavirus problems when it is highly likely that we could see Stockmarkets really struggling.
I got a lot of flak for this and it is very understandable why because there are maybe some advantages of such drip-feeding over time; but for me personally, I wouldn’t do this at all. But then I am perhaps a different type of Investor to many others and there is an element of ‘Horses for Courses’.
Needless to say if you have not read Part 1 yet then it probably makes sense to go back to that one first before you start on this one. You can find it here:
Anyway, I was going through various Bullet Points around the subject matter concerned and here are the next bunch:
I often think of subject matter that is way too short to justify its own blog, yet at the same time far too long to just send out via a Tweet and also I would like to store such stuff in the Website Archives so it can be retrieved by anyone who wants it; and of course with Tweets they tend to be quite ephemeral and soon lost in the River Twitter. On the basis of that, I am envisaging that this blog will cover a few possibly unrelated subjects but at least they get captured in ‘black and white’ electron imagery for the future.
Stay in control of your Position Sizes
This is something I see so often and I know I have fallen into this trap many times myself in the past. It’s a very simple concept where we buy into a Stock, and we quite like it, and we give it perhaps 4% of our Portfolio and then we leave it to do its stuff. Then it turns out that this one is a real beauty and it keeps steadily pushing higher and after a period of time we find that it has grown to be much larger and could even be up to 12% or our Portfolio or more. If we have a very focused Portfolio with maybe just 10 Holdings or something, then a Stock like this could easily grow to be 20% or more.
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