James Anderson recently became England’s most successful bowler as he took his as he took his 384th wicket, that belonging to Denesh Ramdin and overtaking Ian Botham in the process. This is of course an incredible achievement in International cricket – congratulations Mr Anderson. So I was surprised to see an item on the BBC sports website that attempted to work out who really was/is the best bowler England have ever had.
Sport as you will know has become increasingly dominated by statistics – attempts on target, completed passes, distance run, speed of delivery the list is very long and naturally varies from sport to sport. When winning any sport tournament, many rather dull teams/individuals have argued that its not the manner of the victory, just that there was a victory. I cannot help but think of the time Greece won the 2004 European Football championship (sorry Greece)… or for that matter many Champions League finals, where one team essentially set up camp in their own penalty area hoping to counter attack and steal a victory.
Cricket is not new to adopting statisitical analysis – arguably starting the statistical obsession with John Wisden’s annual almanac started in 1864. So anyone wishing to pour over cricket statistics has had plenty of opportunity to do so. Anyway the BBC asked its pundits to assess England’s top 10 bowlers and ascribe a value to the wicket taken. In short a batsman that averages 50 runs is worth more than one that averages 5. Recompiling the data provides a different twist with Matthew Hoggard topping the list (248 wickets). Whilst this is “all very interesting” sport, like life cannot be metered into a nice, neat formula. There is always a context, which even with a lengthy span of statistical data is flawed. For example – the quality of the opposition is a key ingredient, the prevailing rules, TV replays and so on, let alone the context of the pressure of the moment. Statistics are cold, unrepentent and have no context other than a time period.
Investment returns and the charts that you see plastered on advertising boards or in any media are similarly misleading. Most investors probably know that this is the case, but few behave as if it is. Most investors are tempted to invest once returns are good, most sell when they have been poor, on average chasing returns, receiving below-average market returns at above market cost. Sadly the equivalent best investment “gongs” or awards also measure historic data (there is no other) and the context of this is against peers. Who is the best fund manager? well it rather depends on which sector, what timeframe, what measure of risk is used, and what luck was involved. In short, its an impossible task, yet many play the game and attempt to quantify who is “best”.
In practice, the only investment returns that matter are the ones that you actually get. Cricket, motor racing, football, tennis, golf…are all enjoyable escapes, but again the only best that any sportsman/woman can be is their own best, in the context of their sport, time, team and luck. I have nothing against awards for best this or that, (they can be a lot of fun – especially if you win one or two) but as ever, context is everything. I can only be the best financial planner that I can be, constantly striving to improve and be better than I was last year, last month, last week… and of course our service (like most) is not for everyone, but for those that want and need it… well we try to make it the best possible.
For me, many of life’s milestone’s are based upon the sporting calendar. Its Wimbledon 2014 and its not so much that I watch every shot but that it signifies that the English summer is really here (despite the weather). It acts as a reminder of years gone by, stretching all the way back to childhood and watching coverage on the BBC or even listening to games on the radio. It isn’t even as though I’m particularly recalling all the great tennis players of the past, merely that it, like so many other events is another way of marking time and moments in my life.
As we are based in Wimbledon, well… next door. It seemed like a good idea to create a small campaign. So I have put together a free report that you can download for free. This explores the 5 most common mistakes that investor make. I have probably got a lot to learn in terms of making the report punchy or marketing friendly. Its a genuine attempt to provide something of use to anyone that has any intention of investing.
Do have a look at the report, I’d welcome any feedback, more importantly though, pass on the link to your friends that you believe could benefit. Here is the link
Success is contagious, but sadly less contagious than pessimism. As we digest the weekend that has happened, with a new British Wimbledon men’s singles champion the media is flooded with soothsayers. It has been a good 12 months for British sporting interests. Congratulations to Andy Murray for a spectacular victory at Centre Court, very well deserved and reminds me of a post on my old blog site from 2 years ago. Also Mr Froome collected the Tour de France yellow jersey and is leading after 9/21 stages, the Lions also thrashed Australia. There are of course many more sporting events to come this summer and British interests are very much alive.
It has been suggested that Andy Murray’s life will now change considerably. Well, he probably will now be regarded with legendary status in British sport, but winners tend to win a lot and hopefully Andy will continue to have success in Grand Slams, with two to his name now. However being number 1 is not an easy feat. Success longevity requires a huge a mount of perseverance and frankly quite a bit of luck. Luck – for keeping fit and not having significant injuries. There are very few that reach the pinnacle of their sport, by becoming a champion. Take tennis as an obvious example, dominated by just a few players.
Thankfully investing is not about being number 1, it is not about “winning” and beating everyone else. However, most people do not have a “successful” experience of investing. This need not be the case. Most investors behave as though they have to win the game, constantly adjusting positions trying to eek out advantages. The truth is that a successful investment experience does not rely primarily on skill, it relies upon discipline. Even the great tennis players make mistakes as we saw throughout the Wimbledon championship, often players beat themselves rather than get beaten. Investors can learn a lot from tennis and sport. It takes dedication, persistence, a long-term mindset, a thought through strategy and above all discipline to keep at it, keep believing and playing the long game.
Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA
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