It’s one of my favorite times of the year! March Madness is nearly upon us, and as many of us know, the season highlight for college basketball fans is often full of upsets, underdogs and blowouts. Like investing, filling out a bracket involves balancing risk, reward and expectations, and winning a pool ultimately requires a bit of luck along the way. Here are a few lessons from March Madness that we can apply to the world of investing.
Lesson #1: Forget Perfection, Position Yourself Strategically
The odds of filling out the perfect bracket are pretty scarce - so are the odds of consistently selecting prime investments within the market. This can make the process of approaching March Madness, and investing, fairly daunting.
Successful investing stems from focusing on what you can control. That can mean building a portfolio that is positioned to maintain return premiums, such as size, value or profitability that can improve risk-adjusted returns. Additional areas that are also within your control include asset allocation, keeping investment costs low, minimizing taxes and more.
Lesson #2: Don’t Let Past Performance Dictate Future Decisions
Similar to allowing a past team’s success to influence your bracket picks, investing based on previous performances will generally only lead to disappointment. As an investor, you should never assume that your “best pick” from the past will act similarly in the near future.
It’s also important to keep in mind that luck can often play a role in the success of one’s season. While your bracket pool, or asset managers, might be skilled, it may be hard to tell if it’s that skill or luck that helped them do so well. It’s fairly common to see funds that have outperformed in a certain amount of time proceed to underperform in the following period. So maintain a diversified portfolio that can perform well over the long term and minimize your short-term bets.
Lesson #3: The More You Watch, the More Drama You Can Expect
Just like watching a clock tick slowly as you wait for a profound moment or event to take place, the more you watch March Madness, the more attached and emotional you may become about the outcomes. While highly entertaining, the drama associated with the NCAA tournament is undeniable.
Keeping a close eye on the market is almost never helpful or entertaining. In fact, the more you watch the markets, the more susceptible you may become to making poor investment decisions. Great investors detach themselves as much as possible from regular stock fluctuations. So as long as you’ve built a long-term portfolio based on your risk and return objectives, avoid the drama of watching the daily market news.
Lesson #4: Leave Emotions out of the Decision-Making Process
As humans, we see patterns in everyday life and our tendency to maintain memories of the times they “work” only enhances that pattern-seeking behavior.1 A great example is choosing your alma mater or a nearby school to advance in the season further than what evidence and probability suggest.
When it comes to making investment decisions, it’s wise to emphasize evidence-based investment theory and research as opposed to basing your judgments on minor indicators, patterns or gut feelings. Quality decision-making processes should ultimately protect us from our internal hardwiring that causes us to misinterpret probabilities, discover patterns where none exist and exhibit emotional responses. P.S., it’s ok to bet against Duke every year😊
Lesson #5: Keep in Mind the Importance of a Great Coach
There’s no denying that a great coach contributes greatly to the success or failures of a team, sports-related or otherwise. Coaches can act as key motivators and can also be calming in times when emotions run high. In terms of financial well-being, working with a trusted, educated financial professional can be beneficial. Having a good behavioral coach is crucial to maintaining emotional stability and clarity as you make financial decisions.
Financial advisors often act as emotional barriers between individuals chasing returns and running from emotionally charged markets. Without proper guidance, you may lack the understanding and discipline to approach investments wisely. While we can certainly compare the two, creating a March Madness bracket doesn’t have the same high stakes as developing an investment portfolio. Be sure to get in touch with a trustworthy advisor before jumping into the season. Best of luck with both your bracket and investment portfolio success!
Jeff Spitzmiller is the CEO of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning based in Cincinnati, OH. Ohana specializes in life and financial planning for professionals in the healthcare and university fields. The firm is an independent financial advisor and a fee-only fiduciary. Jeff and the firm also enjoy volunteering and giving back to the local community. You can reach Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was prepared by Ohana Wealth & Life Planning; a federally registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The oral and written communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning Form ADV Part 2A & 2B can be obtained by written request directly to Ohana Wealth & Life Planning 212 East Third St. Ste. #100 Cincinnati, OH 45202. All opinions and estimates constitute the firm’s judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This is provided to investment advisory services clients of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Investing may involve risk including loss of principal. Investment returns, particularly over shorter time periods are highly dependent on trends in the various investment markets. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The information herein was obtained from various sources. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information provided by third parties. The information given is as of the date indicated and believed to be reliable. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning assumes no obligation to update this information, or to advise on further developments relating to it. This is for informational purposes only. It does not address specific investment objectives, or the financial situation and the particular needs of any person. An index is a portfolio of specific securities, the performance of which is often used as a benchmark in judging the relative performance of certain asset classes. Indexes are unmanaged portfolios and investors cannot invest directly in an index. An index does not charge management fees or brokerage expenses, and no such fees or expenses were deducted from the performance shown.