As I have traveled through the years of helping lots of valuable clients, I have found that my wife has been my toughest critic. (This is not an actual picture of my wife, but the toughness she exudes.) My toughest critic has also spurred me to hone a highly educational process with people involvement. As a former educator, I find myself wanting to educate clients about expectations when it comes to investment management. Although no one can outsmart the markets, you can focus on what you can control. Here are some controllables when it comes to investment management: don’t outguess the market, let the markets work for you (focusing on a long-term outlook), resist chasing past performances, smart diversification, avoid market timing, manage your emotions, look beyond the headlines and focus on what you can control. This is not a complete list, but covers a lot of the basics of emotional human error when it comes to investing.
Most individual investors are not able to practice self-discipline when it comes to managing their own money. When your money is involved it is very easy to make emotional decisions especially when watching the news or talking to friends. I have found that the best proactive course of action is to utilize a financial planner. I have also found that having an educational session with your financial planner before any investment management takes place is a great idea. I have also gone a step further to include a document that discusses these topics in a very easy to read format. This document also emphasizes the factor of focusing on what you can control. See below
Now getting back to my biggest critic. My wife has reminded me of two very important factors when working with couples. The wife will statistically live longer and she is usually the one that has the veto power with all financial decisions. Her statements have told me not to leave her without a financial plan and regardless of who is the face dealing with any professionals she must have the ultimate stamp of approval(with my input of course). As with any relationship in which the man constantly answers his wife, I have learned that the right proactive measures are better than the wrong ones after an action has occurred. As in investing, I don’t try to outsmart my wife (outsmarting the markets). I focus on the long-term goals of our marriage such as raising kids or retirement planning (letting the markets work for you). I have also found that managing emotions is always a good course of action because it allows for sound, objective decisions to be made. And lastly, focusing on what we can control versus what we cannot has seemed to benefit us greatly. Some of these factors include: creating a financial plan, managing expenses, staying disciplined with financial decisions, executing a budget and maintaining diversification within investments. By utilizing this process with my wife, I can satisfy the biggest critic I have faced to date.