How to Evaluate Your Investment Decisions | Summary and Q&A

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July 20, 2019
by
Ben Felix
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How to Evaluate Your Investment Decisions

TL;DR

Evaluating investment decisions should be based on the quality of the decision-making process and not just the outcome, as market returns are uncertain and outcomes can be influenced by luck.

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Key Insights

  • 💼 It is important to differentiate between a good decision and a good outcome when evaluating investment decisions. Good outcomes are not always a result of good decisions, and vice versa.
  • 💡 Evaluating investment decisions should be based on the quality of the decision-making process and not solely on the outcome. Uncertainty is inherent in investing, and outcomes are influenced by luck.
  • 📊 Understanding the risk associated with an investment decision, the reasons for taking that risk, and the expected outcome are crucial for future evaluation. This helps to assess the decision's effectiveness.
  • 💰 Investing in the stock market to earn the market risk premium is a sensible decision, even if the outcome may not always meet expectations. The market risk premium has historically been positive, but short-term fluctuations can occur.
  • 📈 Reliable risk premiums, such as those associated with small-cap and value stocks, exist over the long term. However, short-term underperformance is possible, and the decision should be evaluated based on the reasons for investing and the associated risks.
  • 🤝 Diversification plays a critical role in reducing the impact of uncertainty and luck on investment outcomes. It includes diversifying geographically and across different risk factors, improving the chances of achieving expected outcomes.
  • 🕓 Evaluating investment decisions requires a long-term perspective and commitment to the chosen strategy. Short-term fluctuations and underperformance do not necessarily indicate a bad decision.
  • 🧠 Bayesian thinking can help evaluate new investment information against the weight of prior assessments. It is necessary to consider new evidence while keeping in mind the strength of the existing decision-making process and criteria.

Transcript

  • You cannot evaluate an investment decision based on its outcome. Take a second to let that sink in. If you buy an individual stock and double your money, you still made a bad decision. You had a good outcome, but you made a bad decision. Future stock returns are uncertain. When we are dealing with uncertainty, a good decision might lead to a bad ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How should investment decisions be evaluated?

Investment decisions should be evaluated based on the quality of the decision-making process, taking into account the intended risk and expected outcome, rather than solely focusing on the outcome itself. Understanding that luck can influence short-term results is crucial in assessing the decision-making process.

Q: Why is diversification important in investment decisions?

Diversification is important because it helps reduce the impact of uncertain outcomes. By diversifying investments across different geographies and risk factors, investors can mitigate the risk of poor performance in one area and increase the likelihood of achieving expected returns. Diversification spreads risk and helps protect against losses caused by concentration in a single investment or asset class.

Q: What is the role of luck in investment outcomes?

Luck plays a significant role in investment outcomes, especially in the short term. Even with a well-informed and rational decision-making process, there is always a chance of a bad outcome due to unforeseen market conditions or events. Luck can both positively and negatively affect investment returns, and understanding this is crucial in evaluating investment decisions.

Q: How does Bayesian thinking apply to investment decisions?

Bayesian thinking involves considering new information in light of prior knowledge or beliefs. In the context of investment decisions, this means taking into account the weight of prior assessments and not being swayed too heavily by new information alone. Bayesian thinking helps investors avoid making impulsive decisions based on short-term results and instead encourages a more rational and balanced evaluation approach.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Evaluating investment decisions should focus on the quality of the decision-making process, rather than just the outcome, as market returns are uncertain.

  • Making a good investment decision does not guarantee a positive outcome, as luck can play a significant role in short-term results.

  • Diversification across geographies and risk factors can help reduce the impact of uncertain outcomes and increase the chances of achieving expected results.

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