Investing urban legend

8 05 2008

Money Smarts, by Salve Duplito


Posted under Investing

Quote for the day:

People think they can invest P20,000 and grow that to a million if they are smart enough. That’s an urban legend. Truth is, you need money to attract money. Capital formation is very important.

– Augustus J.V. Ferreria, senior executive vide-president of Generali Pilipinas, in a MoneyMakeover session May 5, 2008.

The idea of investing is sexy. We are all in a hurry to do it. The more technical and highfaluting, the better. Stocks, bonds, forex, real estate – bring them on!


The wisdom of the wise tells us to make sure we have the “pisi” (rope) to invest and make money even during market fluctuations. Yes, even for supposedly–dummy-proof instruments like mutual funds. We must consider worst-case scenarios before we let excitement push us to jump without a chute.

Dr. Noet’s column today explains for example that even for assets we are planning to hold to maturity, we cannot just be fixated on the specific date in the future when we will get our principal plus the discount or minus the premium. We must also think about what will happen if worse comes to worst, we need to liquidate before that time.

A high income or extensive wealth will allow a select few the option of holding onto assets irrespective of market swings. Indifference is a clear clue that they have judged themselves to be liquid enough to either withstand the market spikes or remain focused only on the maturity date. This is the privilege of having a “mahabang pisi”.

For most retail investors though, our pisi is much shorter. We are much more prone to a liquidity squeeze and more likely to react when the day-to-day value of our long-term assets are fluctuating. The irony is that when investors sell when prices are already falling, values drop even further. Panic begets large losses and large losses beget further losses.

“But this opportunity comes only once!” the thought reverberates in my head.

“Nah,” reason sets in. That’s greed talking.

Conserve financial strength, build up capital, choose tradeable investments and only then invest. Breathe in, breathe out. -)



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