Friday, March 20, 2009

The 20 Golden Rules of Investment

Investing your own money is a complicated and potentially dangerous business. One slip in the tricky world of stocks and shares can prove very costly. So Times Money offers a guide on how to survive and profit in the investment jungle.

1) Buy low; sell high.

2) Don’t chase performance. If you like a stock or fund, buy on the dips.

3) Run your winners. In other words let your profts roll up and don't be in too much of a hurry to kiss goodbye to your best-performing investments.

4) Cut your losses before they become excessive.

5) Never get too attached to a share or a fund. As the late Sir John Harvey Jones once said: “You sometimes have to kill your favourite children.”

6) In general, think long-term. As Warren Buffett, the great US investor once said: “Never buy a stock unless you would be happy with it if the stock exchange closed down for the next 10 years.”

7) But don’t let that stop you reviewing your portfolio regularly. You need to check that your portfolio is properly balanced.

8) Reinvest your dividends. The power of compounding your reinvested share or fund dividends makes a massive difference to your overall return.

9) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you had had all your money in tech stocks in March 2000 you would probably have had about 90 per cent of the value of your portfolio wiped out over the next couple of years.

10) Although it makes sense to hold shares for the long term you don’t necessarily want to hold them forever. In the end shares are for buying and selling not for buying and forgetting about.

11) To that end make sure you spend as much time thinking about selling shares as you do about buying them. Most investors neglect this vital discipline.

12) Make sensible use of tax-privileged investment vehicles such as pensions and Individual Savings Accounts (Isas) but never let the tax tail wag the investment dog.

13) If you don’t understand how a particular investment works it’s probably not a good idea to put money into it.

14) Don’t be afraid to ask the ‘what if’ question. In the late 1990s many investors bought supposedly ‘low risk’ savings products linked to the performance of the stock market. Few asked what would happen if the stock market fell off a cliff, as it did from 2000 onwards, slashing the value of the so-called ‘precipice bonds’.

15) Be flexible and don’t back yourself into a corner. If you bought a stock for 500p and it’s now languising at 50p, don’t stubbornly hold on to it indefinitely in the misguided belief that it’s bound to recover to 500p - it may never do so.

16) Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd - some of the most successful investors have been contrarian investors.

17) Never be influenced by ‘special offers’ such as the discounts sometimes advertised by fund groups for purchasing funds within a specific time. It’s much better to buy the right fund than to get a few pounds knocked off the purchase price of the wrong fund.

18) Ignore all stock market ‘tips’, whether offered in the workplace or at the nineteenth hole of the local golf course. Remember the old stock market adage that “where there’s a tip there’s a tap”.

19) Never get too carried away by investment euphoria, whether for stocks and shares or bricks and mortar - nothing goes up for ever.

20) Remember that if something looks too good to be true - it probably is.

The Ten Biggest Stock Market Crashes of All Time

Some investors might think they have had a rough ride on the stock market over the past seven or eight months. But the recent share price gyrations pale into insignificance when compared with the biggest stock market falls of all time.

10) Wall Street 1901-03: -46%The market was spooked by the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, coupled with a severe drought later the same year.

9) Wall Street 1919-21: -46%There were fears that the new automobile sector was becoming overheated and that car ownership had reached saturation point.

8) Wall Street 1906-07: -48%Markets took fright after President Theodore Roosevelt had threatened to rein in the monopolies that flourished in various industrial sectors, notably railways.

7) Wall Street 1937-38: -49%This share price fall was triggerd by an economic recession and doubts about the effectiveness of Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal policy.

6) London 2000-2003: -52%The UK took sixth place in the table with a 52 per cent market fall between 2000 and 2003 as investors suffered the consequences of the collapse of the technoogy bubble

5) Hong Kong 1997-98: -64%The Hong Kong stock market’s heavy fall in 1997-1998 came as investors deserted emerging Asian shares, including a very overheated Hong Kong stock market
4) London 1973-74: -73%Next came the UK stock market’s 73 per cent drop in 1973 and 1974. set against the backdrop of a dramatic rise in oil prices, the miners’ strike and the downfall of the Heath government.

3) Japan 1990-2003: -79%In third place, with a 79 per cent decline, was the Japanese stock market, which suffered a protracted slide in price from 1990 to 2003 as a share and property price bubble burst and turned into a deflationary nightmare.

2) US Nasdaq 2000-2002: -82%The second biggest collapse came from the technology-rich US Nasdaq index, which fell by 82 per cent following the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2000

1) Wall Street 1929-32: -89%The Wall Street Crash heads the list, with the US stock market falling by 89 per cent between 1929 and 1932. The bursting of the speculative bubble led to further selling as people who had borrowed money to buy shares had to cash them in in a hurry when their loans wre called in.

David Shwartz, the stock market historian, says: “The very big stock market crashes are invariably triggered by a series of different events which unfold one after the other. For example the biggest UK stock market slump in 1973-74 was started by the fear of stagflation, but was then fuelled by the dramatic rise in oil prices of late 1973, followed by the Miners’ strike and the downfall of the Heath government. One heavy blow is not enough to produce a market crash. It requires several different blows to bring a market to its knees.”

The Ten Biggest Stock Market Crashes of All Time

Some investors might think they have had a rough ride on the stock market over the past seven or eight months. But the recent share price gyrations pale into insignificance when compared with the biggest stock market falls of all time.

10) Wall Street 1901-03: -46%The market was spooked by the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, coupled with a severe drought later the same year.

9) Wall Street 1919-21: -46%There were fears that the new automobile sector was becoming overheated and that car ownership had reached saturation point.

8) Wall Street 1906-07: -48%Markets took fright after President Theodore Roosevelt had threatened to rein in the monopolies that flourished in various industrial sectors, notably railways.

7) Wall Street 1937-38: -49%This share price fall was triggerd by an economic recession and doubts about the effectiveness of Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal policy.

6) London 2000-2003: -52%The UK took sixth place in the table with a 52 per cent market fall between 2000 and 2003 as investors suffered the consequences of the collapse of the technoogy bubble

5) Hong Kong 1997-98: -64%The Hong Kong stock market’s heavy fall in 1997-1998 came as investors deserted emerging Asian shares, including a very overheated Hong Kong stock market
4) London 1973-74: -73%Next came the UK stock market’s 73 per cent drop in 1973 and 1974. set against the backdrop of a dramatic rise in oil prices, the miners’ strike and the downfall of the Heath government.

3) Japan 1990-2003: -79%In third place, with a 79 per cent decline, was the Japanese stock market, which suffered a protracted slide in price from 1990 to 2003 as a share and property price bubble burst and turned into a deflationary nightmare.

2) US Nasdaq 2000-2002: -82%The second biggest collapse came from the technology-rich US Nasdaq index, which fell by 82 per cent following the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2000

1) Wall Street 1929-32: -89%The Wall Street Crash heads the list, with the US stock market falling by 89 per cent between 1929 and 1932. The bursting of the speculative bubble led to further selling as people who had borrowed money to buy shares had to cash them in in a hurry when their loans wre called in.

David Shwartz, the stock market historian, says: “The very big stock market crashes are invariably triggered by a series of different events which unfold one after the other. For example the biggest UK stock market slump in 1973-74 was started by the fear of stagflation, but was then fuelled by the dramatic rise in oil prices of late 1973, followed by the Miners’ strike and the downfall of the Heath government. One heavy blow is not enough to produce a market crash. It requires several different blows to bring a market to its knees.”