We all want to be a lot of things, and a smart investor is one of them. If not for the social status of it then at least for the great personal financial benefits of it! Taking random cues from finance-based films, one may start imagining a good investor to be a number-crunching hotshot who can read complex markets like a textbook! The reality, as always, is different and also a tad bit more mundane.
Becoming a good investor is essentially about being deeply, fastidiously informed about the markets you are putting your money in. Information literally is power here as it can propel your every decision.
To make sure you know what kind of investor you are, and how far you have to go to get better, ask yourself these questions:
Do you have all the information?
So yes, you have a pile of money spread around multiple sets of investment tools, but how much and how well do you know about these tools? Have you read the documents, including the fine-print? Have you kept up with their progress? Do you know exactly how much of your hard-earned cash is circulating out there? It all sounds mighty tedious, and it is, but it is critical to your clarity of your financial standing to know where your money is exactly and how safe or profitable it is going to get in the future. Hiring a professional to manage your portfolio is a great idea, but excusing yourself from knowing atleast the broad details of your investments is definitely not!
Can you understand the investment market?
With your money in it, you are already a participant of the investment market. But how well do you know this market? A good investor keeps a disciplined tab on market movements, its most popular/profitable instruments, any new laws or by-laws that could affect interest rates and returns, the companies or industries whose shares and stakes could lead to more lucrative earnings in the future, and other relevant information. Again, this is a complex pool of numbers and legalese, so if you do happen to hire a professional financier, make sure that you still know what is happening around you.
Are you invested, mostly, in the long term?
A good investor is nothing if not a long-term player. With all the information you gather, you must ideally be able to develop a nose for wealth-creation, which is a long-term process. You may have short-term commitments sure, but what ensures your longevity in the market is how well you can identify industry-wide trends and put in money in those segments.
Do you have a proactive financial calendar?
Being a good investor is in the details, and these details have to be working hard on a daily basis! Do you keep lists of priorities, spending, extra income, and unexpected expenditure? Do you keep re-assessing your saving schemes? If you are a prudent saver and a perfectionist when it comes to record-keeping, you are on the road to becoming a truly good investor.
Are you constantly consulting with the experts?
It is a complex market to understand and even with all your fervour, it is always highly recommended that if you are confused, rope in the experts. Investments get progressively more complex when they move across local borders and across a wider spectrum of tools. A dedicated, trustworthy professional can help you navigate the maze effectively.
Do you panic when an emergency comes up?
This is the ultimate litmus test. If your investments are solid and your financial calendar is filled with healthy detailing, then an emergency won’t be able to disrupt your peace. A good investor would typically have resources spread across instruments that vary in risk intensities, and save the liquid cash for contingencies.
Do you invest in yourself?
If you are not channelling your money into your hobbies, travels, interests, education, coveted possessions, then what is the point of it all?
Do you understand that money, for all its perks, is a means and not the end? Don’t let money concerns consume you so completely that your family life and your friends circle become second rung things on the list.