Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Key Habits of Successful Investors

Four key habits an investor might want to adopt are: Preserve capital and minimise risk taking; do homework before investing; have an investment philosophy and system; and, be patient.

IT IS a fact that the local market condition is very hard to predict since it is affected by both global and local factors. As an investor, it may not be possible to predict what is going to happen next, but there are certainly ways to learn from people who have succeeded in riding the waves of good and bad times throughout the years.

In the book "The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett & George Soros", Mark Tier listed out 23 winning habits based on the habits of these two of the world's richest and most successful investors. Summarised below, are four main key habits that you might want to adopt as the fundamentals to successful investing.

Successful investor habit 1: Preserve your capital and minimise risk taking
All successful investors preserve their capital as a foundation and they do this through risk minimisation. Most investors have the perception that in order to make profits in the market, there is a need to take high risks and it is right to say that risk and return come hand in hand.

However, in order to ensure a long-term success, you should not just simply take any risks, but only calculated risks. This requires you to analyse the situation thoroughly as to be confident that the chances of having a good result on your side is high.

With that in mind, you would only end up investing in what Warren Buffett calls "high probability events", where the risk of loss is at the lowest and you are almost certain to make money. Always remember Warren Buffett's 'Investing Rules: "Rule No. 1: Never Lose Money! Rule No. 2: Never Forget Rule No. 1"

Successful investor habit 2: Do your homework before you invest
There are nearly one thousand companies listed in our stock market. Which one should you invest in? Having Habit No.1 as the foundation, you will know that the safest companies to invest in should be companies or industries that you are most familiar with, as you can only make good judgments if you have in-depth knowledge and understanding.

This means that you will have to do your own homework and research through all available sources, such as company annual reports, industry reports or public announcements, in order to obtain the facts on the industry, the company of your interest and its competitors.

This is necessary to ensure that you can draw good conclusions on the company's performance and future prospects. Therefore, time and hard work are the two essential elements in turning yourself into an informed and knowledgeable investor. In practicing this, you will also need to be selective and focused on certain industries in which you the have most interest and experience.

Successful investor habit 3: Have your own investment philosophy and system
What is an investment philosophy? An investment philosophy is a set of beliefs that you use as the foundation in developing your personal investment system for buying and selling investments. This will make sure you are fully aware of the reasons behind every investment decision you make. As a beginner in the investing world, you could probably start by following the investment philosophies and systems of some of the great investors that come closest to your heart.

However, along the way, you should tailor your investment system to suit your personality, goals and unique circumstances so that you can practice this entire system without stress and worries.

If you have the discipline to practice the right system religiously, you will not be easily influenced by the voices or rumours in the market and will not be tempted to simply follow the crowd. Hence, the chances of your making the wrong decisions will be minimised.

Successful investor habit 4: Be patient!
There is a Spanish proverb that says "The secret of patience is doing something else in the meantime". If you somehow managed to inculcate the above 3 habits, you will know exactly what you are looking for and as such, will be well equipped with the patience to wait for the right moment to buy or sell your stocks. Both Buffett and Soros stressed the fact that the secret of their success is having the patience to wait. Use your free time to explore and strategise other new opportunities as there are so many companies listed in the market. Always remember that identifying the right candidates does require time and patience.

On a last note, try to adopt the above habits now! Remember, good strategies will only be successful when executed with the right mindset!

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