Why retail investors lose $$$

10 years 5 months ago #18920 by relaxing
Here’s an old write up on why retail investors lose money, which I think is still relevant. Those who consistently lose money should review their strategies. IMHO, those who are not financially savvy ( ie housewives, pensioners, students etc ) should stay out of speculative stocks, esp S-Chips as trading equities can be addictive. Happy CNY and good luck in the Year of the Horse.


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10 years 5 months ago #18922 by chinsoonyuen
people forget warren buffet 1 & 2.

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10 years 5 months ago #18924 by greenrookie
I have to learn it the hard way.

Some of the thoughts I had:

If others can do it, why can't I.

I didn't depend on luck, I did my homework.

I am different from some people, there are more than 1 way.

All three thoughts are valid, but given it is a high risk game, u should start small and monitor its track record over a period o time. 1-2 year is not a long time.

I had a perfect record of churning 30-80% winners for my first year, and had 70% success rate on my second year, then I lose almost everything back. I am pretty much still in black because of some other non - speculatie buys like STI etf, pacific shipping trust(privatized).. If record is only on speculatie a-chips, I think I suffered net loss.

Be patience and continue to learn if u insist of going down the trader path.

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10 years 5 months ago #18931 by observer2
Hi, Relaxing,
What the writer said in the article cited by you is quite valid. Over the decades, the behaviour of participants in the market has never changed. I feel that the reasons for most people to lose money in the market place can be broadly classified into 3 areas –
1. Insufficient KNOWLEDGE of the market and the products that they are dealing in
2. EXPERIENCE in handling the different situations encountered and be able to learn from past mistakes
3. The EMOTION to deal with themselves and with the market environment especially in the issue of fear and greed & ability to move away from herd behaviour in order to get a head start.

The question on “Why Retail Investors Lose Money” is closely linked to ”Why Many People Repeatedly Lose Back The Money They Made”. This is an important issue that investors must know and understand especially if they find that their investments are not growing. I have shared in an earlier posting on the causes for many investors to repeatedly lose back the gains they made. I believe these causes (reproduced below for ease of reference) are still very valid today.

[From: www.nextinsight.net/index.php/forum/3-sg...ny-Lose-Back-Profits ]

Whenever the stock market went on a continual up trend (especially lasting several months) and then followed by a major sell-down, a notable feature would be that many investors would lose back at least a portion of their profits.

QUESTION: WHY DO SO MANY OF US REPEATEDLY LOSE BACK THE GAINS WE HAVE MADE DURING THE GOOD TIME? Although many would simply attribute this to GREED, a study of the market behaviour and market participants’ behaviour revealed that there were deeper underlying causes for such a behaviour pattern. Among them were –
1. PRIDE: Many of us believed that we had the right winning strategy after we had made a series of successful trades. Pride then began to creep in and often led us to become over-confident, complacent, inflexible, stubborn or resistant to changes. Pride comes before a fall and humility before wisdom. The fact is that, in a rising bull market, just about everyone can make profitable trades easily and to behave like an expert, as little knowledge, skills or experience is necessary to be successful at this time. Our greatest enemy in the stock market is truly OURSELVES. We have complete freedom to decide what and when to buy or sell. Yet when things go wrong, why do many decide to blame, the big boys, analysts, falling US market, our remisers or friends or anyone else (except ourselves)? If we repeatedly achieved the same poor end-results, it should become obvious that we need to examine our operating method and ourselves.

2. FAILURE TO FACE REALITY & TO DICOVER A SUITABLE WINNING STRATEGY: It is a well-known fact that the majority of gamblers, traders, punters and speculators lose money. For many, stock trading is most exciting or thrilling so long as the trade is in their favour but it can also be very stressful and agonizing when the trade is against them. However, the reality is that not everyone has the right temperament, knowledge and skills to be a successful trader. How many of us are able to cut loss easily on a bad trade? Sadly, many of us buy a stock as a “speculator” but ended up as an “unwilling investor or baby-sitter”. Most people also tend to release (sell) too early all the “eagles that could soar to the sky” and to keep with them what are mostly “lame and sick ducks”. Hence, it is common to meet “investors” holding a long list of stocks that are mostly in losing positions. The market also has a clever but harsh way of dealing with long-time holders of losing positions. Occasionally, one of the lame ducks would miraculously recover and start to run far enough as to enable the owner to sell it with full recovery of capital loss plus some profits. This duck then would immediately transform itself into an eagle and soar to the sky bringing much grief and heartache to its former owner. It is for each individual to know his own strength & weaknesses & work out a suitable winning strategy for himself taking into account his risk appetite, resources & knowledge.
3. MARKET BEHAVIOUR & TIMING: In a major market correction or sell-down, many stocks often gave up several months of their price gains in just a matter of several days. Hence, the profits accumulated over several months of numerous trades were liable to be wipe out in just a few trades that suffered heavy losses. For those who decided to cut loss and concede “defeat”, their positions were rather similar to that of generals, like Napoleon, who had fought and won almost all their battles (except the last few ones) but lose the war. An important factor to understand was that the stock market generally moved ahead of fundamentals by several months. A bull market usually started in the face of bad news and bad fundamentals and ended when the economy usually remained strong and corporate earnings still rising. This accounted for the existence of bull and bear traps that many fell into. A Conjuror (Magician) is able to fool his audience because he is always “one step ahead” of them. Likewise, the stock market, always being “one step ahead”, has no difficulty fooling the “herd” through false rallies, breakouts and breakdowns. Investors who understand such behaviour pattern and who could keep themselves one step ahead of the herd, would likely have won at least half of the battles and the war because they would be buying and selling before the herd did. For one to do this, one may need to have a complete change of mindset.
4. THE BIGGER FOOL THEORY: When euphoria surfaced in a bullish market, many would be lured into chasing speculative stocks because of the presence of bigger fools willing to buy them at increasingly higher price. Speculative plays often ended abruptly; and when that happened their stock prices could see sharp falls rapidly bringing hefty losses to those who got caught.
5. Caught In Vicious Cycle: An investor who bought a stock at the high end of the bull market would invariably be holding it (regardless of whether it was a "defensive stock', “blue chip”, “corn chip” or “potato chip”) with higher downside risk and lower upside capital gain. When a bear market arrived (always unexpectedly), it would just be a question of time before he would be holding and sitting on a losing position (always painful to cut loss & not many could take it). Unless he had averaged down his entry price, it would usually take a few years or the next bull market for him to recover from his losing position. By that time, the market would again be on the high end; and being so relieved and happy to be “set free from captivity”, he would most likely liquidate the stock with some profit but only to see it gone up much higher as was often the case. Being frustrated, he would likely buy into another stock, which would then also be at a high end; and hence, faced the high risk of being caught in another bear market downturn and becoming a “baby sitter” once again. This is one very bad move that all investors should strive to avoid.

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10 years 5 months ago #18934 by lotustpsll
My checklist on stock selection :-

- business must have at least 20 years track record.
- undoubted standing of directors
- good management team (appropriate qualifications and working experience)
- business model simple to understand and sustainable.
- books audited by established audit firm
- clean audit reports
- clean record on corporate governance practice

If I have all the ticks, then I will evaluate the company performance and financial condition.

Investing requires perseverance, hard-work and patience. No short cuts for quick gains.

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10 years 5 months ago #18940 by relaxing
Hi Observer2 – Agree that our greatest enemy is ourselves. Experienced investors should make money in the stock market unless they are not disciplined. Newbies and naïve investors tend to follow the herd or easily alarmed by headline news. Right now, they are selling because of US tapering news, which experienced investors already discounted since last yr. I am still abt fully invested as I don’t see how an improving US and EU economy can be that bad, esp compared to last 2 yrs?

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