There are a few behavioural traits exhibited by great investors which are good to adopt.
Keep learning and adapting
“You have to keep learning if you want to become a great investor. When the world changes, you must change.” (Charlie Munger)
How do you expect to be able to adapt appropriately if you do not know what is going on in the world generally; what is going on in the industries that you need to understand, and; what is going on in the companies you have bought into?
And where can you obtain this information so you can pull into gather to give insight and knowledge?
A good place to start is to spend 2 – 3 hours per day reading intelligent newspapers, particularly, but not exclusively, those that focus on finance, business and economics.
Then you need to undertake more specific research on industries and firms – the internet has been a real boon for investors in this quest.
A third thought: nothing beats going to speak to key people, especially directors (I’m often quite lonely as a shareholder at AGMs because other “investors” do not take advantage of the opportunity to converse with the people running their companies).
Patience and concentration
“Patience can be learned. Having a long attention span and the ability to concentrate on one thing for a long time is a huge advantage”. (Charlie Munger)
Investors require patience at many points in the process, from the hard graft of finding a real bargain (there are many days of not finding anything) to the long time it often takes for Mr Market to become conscious that your chosen company is selling cheap and should be re-rated (this can often be two or three years). Get started now on practising that patience.
You have to keep at, keep paying attention and resilient in sticking to sound investment principles day after day. You do this even if the rest of the world says that you should join the crowd and bet on the latest tech-thing or the mining stocks where the “action is” this month.
Concentrate so that you develop a deep knowledge of the businesses you own a part of. Keep following their stories.
Learn from the eminent dead
“You can learn a lot from dead people. Read of the deceased you admire and detest.” (Charlie Munger)
People that were writing a eighty or hundred years ago on investment matters are as relevant today as they have always been – I recommend reading "The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham to start you off.
They are so insightful because they point out fundamental and timeless truths about the investment community and about companies. Human psychology and business rules and behaviour really don’t change in any meaningful way even as we progress on technology.
Then there is reading on a much wider range of topics from history and economics to science and politics. All this helps to make sense of the world we live in today.
Finally, be a decent person
“Early on, write your desired obituary – and then behave accordingly.” (Charlie Munger)
Prof Glen Arnold now offers a Managed Portfolio Service at Henry Spain Investment Services under which clients’ portfolios contain the same shares as his (write to Jackie.Tran@henryspain.co.uk)
I'm a full-time investor running my portfolio. I invest other people's money into the same shares I hold under the Managed Portfolio Service at Henry Spain. Each of my client's individual accounts is invested in roughly the same proportions as my "Model Portfolio" for which we charge 1.2% + VAT per year. If you would like to join us contact Jackie.Tran@henryspain.co.uk
investing is about making the right decisions, not many decisions.