The Investing Journey…

My friend Jon has written a fantastic piece on some things he has learned over 30 years of investing. Jon is a trend follower like me.

We traders and investors are weird. Everything about investing has already been written, but we keep writing it over and over, remixing and making it our own.

A couple of thoughts from Jon’s post really stood out.

“If it’s so good, why would they sell it?”

This is one of the most egregious fallacies in the finance periphery. Why would they sell it? Why do you think? Do the math. Let’s take an example of an area where this is most commonly targeted; newsletter writers or subscription services. Imagine for a moment a trader has a $1m portfolio. He makes on average 10% a year, or $100k. That’s his trading income. If he also runs a subscription service that sells for a $1000 a year, he can get an additional $100k a year with 100 subs. That’s very nice passive income.

Now I used $1m in my example. In reality most traders are capitalized at $100k or less. They would only need 10 subscribers to get the same return. If they had 100 subs, it would match their entire portfolio value! The question then becomes not “If it’s so good why would they sell it?” but instead “If it’s so good, why wouldn’t they sell it?”

And it’s also grossly unfair to limit this logic to newsletter/sub services. If hedge fund managers are so good, why do they need clients? We know why. The fees. They can make way more from managing other people’s money than just their own. It’s the exact same principle.

I’ve seen many people get tarred with this brush unfairly, especially in the area of technical research, and yet fundamental research with its dire record gets a pass. I’ve seen it firsthand too. If you give something away for free people think it can’t be worth anything. If you charge for it “If it’s so good, why would you sell it?”

Jon is so right. I happily pay for mentorship and ideas.

I also love this part on exit’s over entries:

Entries, exits, position size.

Watch any trading software ad and you’ll likely hear lots about getting entry signals. The perception is it’s more important than the others, but it’s not. I think exits are more important. A good exit signal doesn’t just get you out when needed, a really good exit signal keeps you in, staying just below the action and not triggering until the trend is over.

Look back at the entry of a successful position you’ve held for many months. How important was it to enter at that precise time, that day? It’s likely what followed was more important. What allowed you to tolerate the volatility and ride it higher to where it is now, making it the big winner it is. That’s all exits and position size, not entry.

Sure, without an entry there’s no trade, but it’s only the exit signal that determines whether in relation to that entry the trade is a winner or loser. Even more important, the position size will determine by how much. Entries merely determine the frequency of trades, or how many signals you have.

Thanks Jon!


Also published on Medium.