My first brush with stock market investing came when I opened a Roth IRA at age 22. I knew little of stock market investing, but I muddled through some analyst reports, and I picked about a dozen stocks.
A few months later I logged into my account to see how my portfolio was faring. Relative to the market, I underperformed… by a lot. I figured that my poor performance was due to a poor strategy, or more accurately a completely nonexistant strategy.
I had a lot to learn about investing, but I also had to learn why I was investing in the first place. In order to become a better investor, I had to change my mindset to that of a professional portfolio manager.
Over time, I learned that successful investing is not about a secret sauce. Instead, managing your portfolio requires knowledge, common sense and the willingness to follow through on a plan.
Here five steps you can take to manage your portfolio like a professional.
Start with an investment philosophy
It’s easy to start investing with guns blazing (like me), or to fearfully stuff cash under your mattress.
Rather than letting your emotions dictate your investments, take time to consider your investment philosophy.
Your investment philosophy should incorporate beliefs about the stock market, expectations of market performance, an understanding of investment risks and your personality.
An investing philosophy will keep you from altering strategies when the market is high or low, and it will help you handle volatility in your portfolio. By establishing a philosophy, you set yourself up as long term investor instead of a short term gambler.
Understand your portfolio
Although I thought that I would beat the market, I quickly learned that I (along with most investors) don’t often succeed in beating the market over the long run. In fact, many fail to achieve even the returns that the market is offering.
It’s impossible to perfectly time your buys or to maintain perfect asset allocation in all circumstances, and DIY investors don’t need to achieve perfection. Instead you need to understand your portfolio, so that you can get everything that market is offering.
At DIY.Fund, we aim to keep you informed about your portfolio risk.
And we help you maintain asset allocation goals and dividend yield goals. Understanding these parts of your portfolio can lead to better decisions, and better risk adjusted returns.
Stick to your strategy
Over the long haul, a sound strategy will allow you to maximize your long term risk adjusted returns. However, it is not easy to stick to your strategy when you face a never-ending barage of investing information that might (or might not) be the next big thing.
To make it easier to focus on your strategic goals, our platform emphasizes strategic portfolio inputs such as asset allocation and dividend yield goals. We send email alerts when your portfolio is out of line with your strategic priorities.
Over a long time frame, we believe that sticking to your strategy will yield the best returns given your tolerance for risk.
Follow through on your intentions
The best investing strategy in the world is useless if you don’t follow through on your intentions, but executing portfolio adjustments based on your strategy shouldn’t include lots of guesswork, nor should it require that you constantly keep your investments top of mind.
When you receive strategy based alerts, it makes it easy to follow through on your strategy. You simply make the transactions necessary to get your portfolio back in line with your strategic intentions.
Tackle emotion with knowledge
One of the hardest things DIY investors face is contending with our own emotions. Its easy to second guess ourselves, to chase outsized returns, or to run towards safe havens.
Instead of framing our portfolio with emotionally charged reports, DIY investors should frame their portfolio in the context of the overall market and in the context of their own strategy.
At DIY.Fund we readily provide contextualized information, so you can tackle the emotional urge to change strategies when the market oscillates. Knowledge is a powerful tool for helping DIY investors manage their emotions while they manage their portfolio, and it can make avoiding emotional decision making a little easier.
What steps are you taking to manage your portfolio like a professional?