The ground game is critical.
That’s what surprised me about Sunday’s Super Bowl. Both teams used a lot of time running the ball, trying to open up holes in the defense, pounding and grinding yards away from one another. As someone who grew up cheering for Fran Tarkington’s Vikings and rooting for the New England Patriots today, I expected shotgun formations and a lighting offense. Instead, we saw play after play dominated by running backs and rushing. Indeed, the only points scored by passing were a on a two-point conversion by the Broncos late in the fourth quarter.
The “ground game” also dominates discussions of the presidential primaries. Candidates are supposed to mobilize supporters–encouraging them to make phone calls and knock on doors. These “foot soldiers” have been the heart and soul of Presidential campaigns for a long time. This year some candidates think that by holding big rallies, scoring debate points, and blanketing the airwaves they can post impressive results. But that’s not usually how New Hampshire works. It takes targeted voter outreach to turn polling numbers into election day votes.
Photo: Charles O’Rear. Source: Wikipedia
Do you have an investment ground game? An investment ground game is found in the nitty-gritty details of asset allocation and financial planning. What are your investment goals—what do want to do with your money, besides pay this month’s bills? How much risk can you handle? How about your stocks: what do their revenues, margins, and earnings look like? With bonds, what is their credit rating, and how much interest do they pay? And how diversified are you—are you invested in different assets, industries, and countries? We don’t know the future: diversification limits our downside risk and allows our portfolios to grow where we might least expect.
In football and politics, the ground game isn’t very exciting. It requires a lot of preparation, a lot of work, a lot of determination. It isn’t glamorous. Often, it looks like three yards and a cloud of dust, over and over again. But you can’t ignore the fundamentals. The same holds true with investments.
Because it’s not about headlines and adrenaline. It’s about achieving your goals.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer