“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
We make no claim for originality — that belongs to Charles Dickens, writing in the nineteenth century about an event, the French Revolution, that occurred in the eighteenth century. All that brings to mind an old cliche: “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” or even Dwight Eisenhower’s famous garbled quote: “Things are more like they are now than they ever have been.”
The point of this verbal meandering? Simply that the world is always unsettled somewhere. Good and bad events are not mutually exclusive, they have gone on side by side for all of history.
As investors, we watch events and consider how they will affect the economy, politics, and, most important, our portfolios. The truth is, we can only guess. We can make educated guesses based on history and experience, but, in the end, there is no certainty. That is why our focus is on earnings and growth.
How should this uncertainty influence your investment decisions and instructions to your advisor? That depends, to a great extent, on your personality, your investing horizon, your goals, and the impact it has on your tolerance for risk.
When Mitchell Capital is engaged, new clients create a set of investment guidelines, basically setting limits on the equity and fixed income components of their portfolios. These are the directives our managers will follow and serve as the guideposts for moving forward in an uncertain world. At their best, guidelines strip the emotion from investment decisions. They act as guardrails to keep us properly focused and avoid or limit damages along the way.
Things change. People grow older; they move; change jobs. The world changes. Events may occur that affect economies and governments in both the short term and the long. These things may affect what we call your “sleep factor,” that is, if you lie awake and worry about your investments, it may be time to revisit your guidelines.
We report and communicate regularly; we try to keep in tune with clients’ concerns, but ultimately the responsibility for defining objectives falls on clients, with our assistance.
None of this is to suggest that objectives should change with every headline. They should not. Investing remains a long-term process. But if you have concerns about overall strategy, let’s sit down and talk about them.