30 April 2015
I’m a little nervous about writing this, it’s my first ever blog post! I’m not really a writer, so please forgive any poor grammar, spelling etc. I will get better!
As a founding director of CSS Investments I am looking forward to this shift in direction, both for the firm and the industry.
I want CSS to be the most open and transparent investment advisory service in London, and to serve not just our clients, but also anyone who needs good, straight forward and useful advice around investing.
The funny thing about investing is that it looks so simple.
A stock or share will either go up or down. If you choose the right direction you profit.
I remember thinking the same thing when I first started as a junior stockbroker nearly 25 years ago. I looked at it and thought, “Surely it’s not hard to find stocks that will make money, there’s surely something wrong with me if I can’t.”
So I set to work at learning my craft and…
Reality bites! It wasn’t that easy. In the beginning I struggled to make sense of everything. Not because the process of making a trade or investing in a stock itself was hard (it’s simple, you buy or sell), but because great investing has an invisible structure that supports it. A structure that holds it up and makes it work.
Let me give try to explain this in another way. I’m an Arsenal fan, don’t hold it against me! We’ve had some great players over the years, but my favourite in recent times is Thierry Henry.
He was a master playing the game. He made it look simple, effortless. Millions of amateur players around the world learnt about the game in the same way he did, yet didn’t get close to his ability. Ok, not everyone got the level of coaching he did, but what this did was allow him more time to concentrate on getting better and working hard towards his goal.
That aside, why is it that when the average person tries to play football, they are miles away from the ability of our famous Number 14?
One reason was his passion and single minded approach to being the best came through whenever he played. But it was his desire to help his team and his selflessness that really stood out to me.
Another reason is that he was dedicated to becoming a master of his craft. Over the years he’s worked on hundreds of little techniques or shortcuts about how to be a world class footballer — how to make each little piece of his skill fit just right as part of the whole player and team. And he worked hard on this every day of his career.
You may argue that he already possessed ‘natural talent’. I’m not going to debate this, I’ll leave that to the likes of Malcolm Gladwell. But behind any natural talent, I think you’ll always find hard work and a consistency that separates them from everyone else.
Sorry, you didn’t come here to listen to me bang on about Henry!
What I hope this shows you is that this hidden ‘secret’ is present in almost every vocation, hobby, sport and creative endeavour on earth.
It’s simply hard work, dedication and putting a structure in place that you follow in good and bad times. Just look at Henry at Juventus before he joined Arsenal, he was struggling but never stopped following these principles (ok, ok, no more Henry!).
It is especially relevant when it comes to investing, and deeply understanding this is often what makes the difference between an average or struggling investor and a masterful one.
Within investing this structure consists of numerous inputs including:
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve put in years of hard graft developing my knowledge and skills within this structure. I’ve studied for, sat and passed numerous industry exams to stay relevant and up to date with industry best practice. I have nearly 25 years of real world market experience. I’ve made money and I’ve lost money. And I learn something new every day.
I’m not telling you this to feed my ego, merely to illustrate some of the steps I went through to fully understand the structure and discipline that holds things together when it comes to investment.
I also want to open your eyes to what lies ahead if you chose to tread this path or are indeed already on it. It’s a wonderful journey, one that can be rewarding financially, intellectually and mentally. It can also be lonely – it’s just you and the market – frustrating and financially disastrous should you fail to understand the reality of the markets and the structure of investing.
There are many ways that you can learn this structure of investing. You can self-teach – there are thousands of books and websites on the subject. Courses run worldwide (just ensure you research the person/company providing the training and that they have real world trading and investment experience). Find an experienced mentor who will pass on their experience and knowledge. Or use an advisory service broker that understands this structure and can pass on their years of collective experience to provide investment ideas and approaches that are right for your objectives.
So if you’ve ever wondered if there is a ‘secret’ to investment that only the successful investors or professionals know and keep to themselves, I hope that this shows you that it’s not a ‘secret’, but a structure and discipline that they have invested years of hard work in understanding and practicing.
What kind of structure or process do you have to your investing or trading? I’d love to hear about your approach in the comments below. Just no Arsenal bashing please, I get enough from the floor as it is!
Wayne is Co-Founder & Director of CSS Investments and has worked in the City of London for almost 25 years.