The Science Behind Decision Making

In the 1940s, 90 percent of the stock market was owned by individual household investors. Today, with the widespread use of investment banking and mutual fund investing, individuals are responsible for trading only 20 percent of U.S. corporate equity.1

Do we no longer trust ourselves with investment decisions? You might think that, with so much information now accessible via the internet, more people would invest on their own. However, the fact remains that there’s really too much information now available, much of it from unreliable sources, and very little can be tailored specifically to individual financial situations.

That’s where we come in. Our job is to help you determine a mix of investment and insurance options for your financial goals, timeline for retirement and tolerance for market risk. Together, we can take this world of information and create a financial strategy designed to help you work toward your financial goals.

Interestingly, one of the hottest areas of research in recent years is behavioral finance. This is basically the study of why we make the investment decisions we do. But regardless of the reasons, this knowledge doesn’t necessarily change our decision-making style. Our decisions are reflections of who each of us is; perhaps they reflect our values, but just as often they may reflect our dispositions (which may not always be a good thing).2 This is another reason having an experienced financial advisor to run ideas by can help ground decision-making and keep us focused on long-term goals.

While biases may be inherent to our nature, it’s still a fascinating field to help us understand everyday behaviors of which we may not be aware. For example, one consultant got a firsthand look at natural human behavior when she underwent two hip surgeries. Over time, she relied on two crutches, one crutch and then a cane. During this time, people were far more willing to help by holding doors and carrying things for her when she was using a crutch as opposed to a cane. It’s worth considering how this bias reflects our feelings toward people with disabilities that appear temporary versus permanent.3

By the same token, we tend to make poor decisions when we’re under stress. One researcher explored this concept within the context of poverty: People living in impoverished conditions with constant financial stress tend to lack the capability, or “mental bandwidth,” to make better choices.4

Perhaps understanding our bias tendencies can help us recognize why other people make what we may judge to be consistently poor decisions.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Michael Kitces. Nerd’s Eye View. Dec. 21, 2016. “How Behavioral Biases Lead To Hard-To-Capture But Sustainable Alpha.” https://www.kitces.com/blog/sustainable-alpha-from-behavioral-biases-paradox-of-skill-and-factor-investing/. Accessed Jan. 24, 2017.

2 Shana Lebowitz. World Economic Forum. Nov. 25, 2016. “Why is it so hard to overcome bias in decision-making? Because you’re human.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/why-its-so-hard-to-overcome-bias-in-decision-making-according-to-a-psychology-professor. Accessed Jan. 16, 2017.

3 Allison Rimm. Harvard Business Review. Dec. 30, 2016. “What I Learned About Helpfulness When I Used a Cane Instead of Crutches.” https://hbr.org/2016/12/what-i-learned-about-helpfulness-when-i-used-a-cane-instead-of-crutches. Accessed Jan. 16, 2017.

4 Knowledge@Wharton. Dec. 28, 2016. “Why Mental Bandwidth Could Explain the Psychology Behind Poverty.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/bandwidth-explain-psychology-behind-poverty/. Accessed Jan. 16, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

 The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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What Is Evidence-Based Investing?

The evidence-based approach originated in the medical field to promote the use of clinical experience and the best available research to make decisions about individual patient care.1

In the investing world, this translates to a goal of using current evidence to help maximize an individual’s investment returns while minimizing risk from market downturns.2 In more simplistic terms, evidence-based investing (EBI) means that whatever you decide to do, make sure you have an evidence-based reason for doing it, and always be prepared to amend your plan when the evidence necessitates a change.3

While we’re happy to explain to our clients various investing and wealth management approaches, including EBI, please keep in mind that our advice is tailored to each person’s needs. What works for one client may not work as well for another. We’d love to talk with you about our individual approach to investing – give us a call toll-free at 1-888-272-1099 and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment.

Financial professionals who use evidence-based investing typically take a four-step decision-making process:4

  1. Eliminate meaningless questions.
  2. Ask meaningful questions.
  3. Apply the evidence.
  4. Monitor for effectiveness.

Another significant distinction about EBI is that it is commonly misinterpreted as passive investing. However, EBI is not so much about active versus passive management but rather is about keeping an eye on how much you pay for each investment and determining if what you’ve gotten in return is worth the price.5

Please remember that investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Michael Chamberlain. Investopedia. March. 28, 2017. “Comparing Traditional to Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.investopedia.com/advisor-network/articles/comparing-traditional-evidencebased-investing/. Accessed May 26, 2017.

2 Michael Finke. ThinkAdvisor. Spring 2017. “The Rise of Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.researchmagdigital.com/researchmag/april_2017?utm_campaign=Q22017%20Thought%20Leadership&utm_content=52019654&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&pg=14#pg14. Accessed May 26, 2017.

3 Robin Powell. The Evidence-Based Investor. April 25, 2017. “Bob Seawright: Behavioral Finance Is as Much a Part of EBI as Indexing.” http://www.evidenceinvestor.co.uk/bob-seawright-behavioural-finance-much-part-ebi-indexing/?platform=hootsuite. Accessed May 26, 2017.

4 Michael Finke. ThinkAdvisor. Spring 2017. “The Rise of Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.researchmagdigital.com/researchmag/april_2017?utm_campaign=Q22017%20Thought%20Leadership&utm_content=52019654&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&pg=14#pg14. Accessed May 26, 2017.

5 Corey Hoffstein. Newfound Research. Nov. 18, 2016. “What I Learned at the Evidence-Based Investing Conference.” https://blog.thinknewfound.com/2016/11/4-lessons-ritholtz-wealth-evidence-based-investing-conference/. Accessed May 26, 2017.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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