Thursday, 2 July 2009

An intelligent and patient investor has a big advantage over the “gambler”-investor.

A lot of people like to argue that the rate of return you can expect from an investment is directly related to the amount of risk you take on. The more risk you have, the greater the potential return - but also the greater risk if you suddenly need to pull out your money.

I’ve always felt that this is a very limited view of things and that it ignores the effort and intelligence of the investor. An investor who can invest a lot of time studying the market and specific investments and can apply cool reasoning and behavior to his or her investments can get a better return than an investor who just wants to stick his or her money somewhere.

Take index funds, for example. Stock index funds are made up of all of the stocks that meet a certain criteria. If you buy into an index fund, it’ll essentially do as well as the average of all of those stocks. That actually also lowers your risk a fair amount because you’re not tied to the ups and downs of a specific company.

For an investor with limited time to research and understand specific investments - such as me - that’s a great way to invest. However, I know that if I had adequate time to actually study the market and played it cool, I could often (not always, but often) pick specific stocks that would beat this return.

Why don’t I do that? With the amount of money I have to invest (relatively small) and the time it would take to actually do the research and pick the investments (relatively large), it’s not a cost-effective use of my time. Give me index funds or give me death!

This is much the same logic that this chapter provides. Graham also buys into the idea that an intelligent and patient investor has a big advantage over the “gambler”-investor.

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