Last Updated Jun 16, 2009 6:25 PM EDT
Myth #2: It's important to be proactive
I often lecture myself, after the fact of course, that I should have been more proactive about whatever it was I should have known was coming. Being proactive in life is great. How does it translate to your investing? In a word, poorly.
Not to hear the many media gurus tell it. They claim to have sold before a market downturn and preach the virtues of being proactive. It's important to get out of the market or a particular sector when the warning signs are there, or so the argument goes.
Well, I've started tracking some of the timing advice that came from these gurus. I figured they would have at least the randomness of the 50/50 coin-flipping odds in their favor, meaning that I expected them to be right about half the time. But surprise, surprise -- they weren't even close to this batting average. I also noted that not one talking head ever copped to being wrong. If only the weather forecaster had it so easy.
One radio guru in my town of Colorado Springs is the poster child of proactive since he seems to spout the word more than anyone. One example of many of his proactive moves was to tell his mother to get out of the stock market just as it was bottoming out last March.
I'm not sure why I was surprised at how poorly their proactive advice performed. Studies have consistently shown that the more one tries to time the market, the lower the performance. So my advice is to remember it's time in the market rather than timing the market. Investing is one of the few areas of life where being lazy trumps being proactive.
On Friday, I'll address one final investing statement -- "If you want a great money manager, you need to pay for it."