Why the Slowest Investors Win the Race

The math of recovering from hits may astonish you. Let's say your portfolio loses 33 percent of its value, leaving you with two thirds of what you had. Many believe they'd be back where they started if they gain 33 percent. But this gain wouldn't restore their losses. They would actually need to make a 50 percent gain to get back to where they started. The reason is that the gain is based on a lower value than what you started with.

Heavy gains followed by just a large losses from volatile investments is comparable to the hare in Aesop's fable sprinting for periods and then, winded, lying down to take a nap. Like the tortoise, investors with adequately diversified portfolios don't tend to need as much recovery time.

Such losses are even more damaging than they appear at first blush. Not only do hare portfolios lose time that could be used to make progress toward the goal, but they also miss out on the benefits of compounding from reinvested gains . Though tortoises' gains may be far lower than those made by hares during their sprints, they're more likely to enjoy the benefits of compounding.

These awkward reptiles plod steadily toward the finish line while the halting progress of hares leaves them far behind.

Ted Schwartz, a Certified Financial Planner®, is president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group http://capstoneinvest.net. He advises individual investors and endowments, and serves as the advisor to CIFG Funds. Because Schwartz has a background in psychology and counseling, he brings insights into personal motivation when advising clients on achieving their wealth management goals. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Oregon State University. He can be reached at ted@capstoneinvest.com.

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