So the 2013 Wimbledon tournament is under way again. Yet again, it would take a brave soul to bet against the usual suspects from reaching the semi-finals. Mr Federer has already begun his challenge, where the grass in SW19 is perhaps his best opportunity to win another grand slam. Many will be hoping that Andy Murray will be able to draw on his success at Queen’s and the 2012 Olympics. The Bryan brothers will take some stopping in the men’s doubles, who are amongst the most successful tennis players in the last 40 years when it comes to titles (doubles specialists).
The thing about being “a great” is consistently delivering results. History is recorded by the winners and you may be surprised to learn that when it comes to greats, the greatest, by a country mile is Martina Navratilova with a combined 344 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, surpassing the nearest male by nearly 200 titles (John McEnroe the most successful man with 148 titles). Martina dominated her field with Chris Evert providing a worthy opponent (186 titles).
Investing is a little like tennis, but for all but the investment greats (and there are really very few of them) the similarity is not as you might expect. By saying investing is like tennis, I mean the sort of tennis that most people play. Invariably the winner made fewer mistakes. Tennis is one of those games that to win, largely means not being beaten by yourself (rather than your opponent). Of course if you play tennis, you may be forgiven for thinking you are quite brilliant (if you win) however the truth is that you made fewer double-faults, hit the ball out fewer times and probably made fewer worse second and first serves. Like investing, taking credit for your skill may be somewhat premature, actually what counted was the number of mistakes that you made. Tennis is a very skilled game. Investing is too. However most of my job is to act more like the coach than the player. Helping clients to remain calm, to keep to disciplines, to persist, to see the bigger picture (the whole ball) and to reduce the number of errors made that are self-defeating. Errors like trying to time the market, trying to beat the market, using expensive investment strategies, not diversifying risk, failing to understand risk and being distracted by the noise. Successful investing is possible for anyone. Having clear targets, seeking investment efficiency, minimising costs and playing a game where a successful outcome is realistic. So as you watch some of this years Wimbledon and watch the professionals, think if this is winning or not being beaten. Reflect on who is likely to win the tournament titles and when you are ready to discuss a winning investment and financial planning service only a couple of miles from Centre Court, give me a call.
Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA