Mind Your Money: Beyond the glitz: What investors really want (and need)

Technology has democratised finance, offering a smorgasbord of options

By Sandeep S. Jadwani

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Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 3:34 PM

For two decades, I’ve navigated the ever-shifting currents of the financial world. From the great financial crisis of 2008 to the 2020 Covid 19 crash and beyond, I’ve witnessed countless trends come and go. Yet, one thing remains constant: investor psychology. We all share a cocktail of emotions – fear, greed, and that ever-present desire for a quick win – that can cloud our judgment.

The truth is there’s no magic formula for success. The flashiest investment, the one your neighbour swears by, might not be the right fit for you. Here’s what truly matters: understanding yourself and your risk tolerance.

1. The democratisation of finance

The landscape is changing. Previously exclusive asset classes like private equity, venture capital (VC), and pre-IPO opportunities are becoming accessible to retail investors. Technology has democratised finance, offering a smorgasbord of options. Platforms like crowdfunding and online brokerages have opened doors that were once firmly shut to anyone but the ultra-wealthy and institutional investors.

This democratisation means that retail investors now have the opportunity to diversify their portfolios in ways that were previously unimaginable. But a word of caution: with great opportunity comes great responsibility.

2. Understanding the risks

These new avenues are exciting, but they can be a minefield for the unprepared. Are you comfortable with the inherent risks? Unlike traditional stocks and bonds, these investments are often illiquid, meaning you might not be able to cash out quickly. They can be complex too, requiring in-depth research and a longer investment horizon.

Private equity and venture capital investments, for example, typically involve longer lock-up periods and higher volatility. Pre-IPO opportunities might offer the allure of getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing, but they come with substantial risks, including the possibility of the company never going public or failing entirely.

3. The role of the adviser

Here’s where your adviser comes in. A good adviser isn’t just a salesperson; they’re a risk manager and a behavioural coach. Are they up-to-date on the latest asset classes and their unique risk profiles? Can they translate complex financial jargon into clear, understandable language? Most importantly, can they tailor a plan that reflects your individual needs and risk tolerance?

In today’s world, the role of the adviser is more critical than ever. They need to be equipped with the latest tools and knowledge to help you navigate these complex and sometimes opaque investments. Advisors should use technology to provide you with a comprehensive view of your portfolio and help you understand how different investments fit into your overall strategy.

4. Asking the right questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Challenge your adviser to explain the risks involved in any investment, new or old. Remember, it’s your money, and a well-informed investor is a successful investor.

- What are the liquidity constraints of this investment?

- What are the potential returns, and what risks accompany them?

- How does this investment fit into my overall financial plan?

- What is the investment horizon?

- What are the fees and costs associated with this investment?

Sandeep S. Jadwani, Head of Investment Advisory, Habib Investment Limited
Sandeep S. Jadwani, Head of Investment Advisory, Habib Investment Limited

5. Focus on your goals

So, the next time that shiny new investment catches your eye, take a deep breath and step back. Focus on your goals, understand your risk tolerance, and work with a qualified advisor who can navigate the complexities of the market for you. That’s the recipe for true financial success.

Lessons learnt

I wanted to share important lessons about investments others and I have been learning for a couple of decades, lessons that are obvious in hindsight but were not obvious in foresight.

The most important lesson for investors is to reflect on what they really want from their investments and design investment programs aimed at getting as much of what they want as is realistic. Bolstering weak self-control is one part of the solution to the puzzle. Investors with weak self-control use rules to bolster their self-control.

Evidence-based investing

As an adviser, for me, investment is about evidence-based investing. As written by Meir Statman It is about applying science to separate investment truth from investment fiction and educating investors to do better by resisting their cognitive errors and misleading emotions. Evidence-based investing involves rigorous analysis and a disciplined approach, ensuring that investment decisions are grounded in research and data rather than hype and speculation.

In conclusion, achieving investment success is about more than just picking the right stocks or chasing the latest trend. It’s about understanding your own goals, risk tolerance, and the broader financial landscape. By working with a knowledgeable advisor and staying informed, you can navigate the complexities of the market and make sound decisions that align with your long-term objectives.

Sandeep S. Jadwani - ACSI, CIB (Head of Investment Advisory, Habib Investment Limited – Regulated by DFSA) is qualified, experienced and an award-winning financial adviser to high networth individuals. Been in the UAE for over 15 years and advising high net worth individuals, institutions as well as family offices to efficiently and effectively manage their investment management to achieve their financial goals. Connect with him on Instagram @sandeep_investmentadvisor and Linkedin - www.linkedin.com/in/sandeepjadwanibestadvisoruae/

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