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Perfecting your game

17th May 2021

17.05.2021

The investment adviser Charles Ellis famously pointed out in 1975 — investing is like tennis. For professionals, it is a winner’s game. But for amateurs, it is a loser’s game.  

“Professionals win points, amateurs lose points. Professional tennis players stroke the ball with strong, well-aimed shots, through long and often exciting rallies, until one player is able to drive the ball just beyond the reach of his opponent,” wrote Ellis.  

“Amateur tennis is almost entirely different… the ball is fairly often hit into the net or out of bounds, and double faults at service are not uncommon. The amateur duffer seldom beats his opponent, but he beats himself all the time. The victor… gets a higher score because his opponent is losing even more points.”  

I do not think I like the term “loser”, but I get his point, which is that is that if you do not have a structured, repeatable approach to portfolio management, which you implement year in year out, your portfolio can fall apart.  

The analogy echoes many studies completed over the years that have found that the investors worst enemy is often themselves. At IronBright we review the Dalbar Report every year which continues to re-enforce that individual investors regularly underperform relevant benchmarks due to poor behaviours and lack of discipline, which is summarised in the well renowned ‘The Behaviour of Individual Investors’ paper Barber & Odean – “The behaviours deleteriously affect the financial wellbeing of individual investors”.  

Deleteriously – what a word!   

But then this begs the question: ‘Is your professional investment adviser sufficiently, and smugly, equipped to deliver better returns”? Uncomfortable question, which I bravely put to the test looking at our portfolios against their respective benchmarks over the last 5 years, which has been a challenging period to both amateur and professional alike.

Benchmarks can be completely misleading, but we have ours about right. They offer the same asset allocation as the respective portfolio with the projected asset class returns as those prescribed by the FCA, which are reviewed on a regular basis by PWC e.g., UK equities 7.00% p.a. and UK Corporate Bonds 3.00% p.a.

The chart above shows a selection of IronBright portfolios, which hold the majority of our clients’ assets -very relieved to report that we are ahead of the game. “15 – love the Professional”.

Pleased, relieved and certainly not smug….honest.

Steve Brady

Steve Brady
Director

CII

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