August 30, 2018

It’s your asset manager’s job to hurt you

If you visit your family doctor, you assume for good reason that he is interested in maintaining your health. Not least because he swore an oath to do so. When it comes to your asset manager, however, you should be more skeptical, because his interest is not in your retirement assets, but rather – strictly speaking – the opposite.

However, this isn’t your advisor’s fault, but yours, the customers!

The most important goal for your asset manager is this: To keep you as a customer. This is where the human mind hurts you because most investors want to avoid one thing more than anything else: losses. The mere idea of losing money creates fear, and humans usually react to fear with flight. If their stocks drop in value, they become scared and they go to change their asset managers. He, in turn, wants to avoid this.

That’s why your advisor protects your assets from losses: For instance, he might buy put options that will make you money if the price drops, or rather save you from losing even more. Or he keeps part of your money in cash in the account. Or he invests it in gold or bonds. All these measures are effective in dampening course fluctuations – but they also decrease your future profits.

That is the law of the stock market: If you’re looking for ways to decrease fluctuations, you will decrease your returns as well. In other words: If you want to make money in the stock market, you need to be able to endure if your investment loses value in the short run.

Asset managers know the human mind well. They know that most customers prefer the "no losses" model over the "higher capital later on" model. That’s why they are selling you investment strategies that might be safer, but have smaller returns. They are therefore hurting you knowingly and willingly because they want to keep you as a customer and therefore have to cater to your loss aversion. Anything else would be unreasonable. That’s not their fault, it’s the customer’s fault.

Conclusion: Invest your money yourself to achieve the highest expected returns, even if it is subject to fluctuations. Think long-term, because short-term fluctuations are irrelevant in the long run. And endure them. They never last.

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