The answer is simple: you already have one. Everyone has something they’re good at. Whether it’s understanding how a store’s layout might be confusing or knowing what kind of computer games kids are playing, everyone has some kind of expertise.
As we go about our lives, we all have favorite activities, favorite stores, favorite brands we use. We become experts on motorcycles, camping gear, or farm equipment. Suppose you work in a hospital; you likely have a better understanding of which medical devices are popular right now than most financial professions, because you see these products in action every day.
Insight gained everyday interactions is often more valuable than Wall Street’s research. People know when something is increasingly popular, or when a company offers good value. When Apple sold the iPod cheaper than other MP3 player many investment pros were skeptical—but consumers lapped it up. Offering an inexpensive, convenient way to listen to 99-cent songs was a winning formula.
When people focus on what they already understand, they are more likely to be able to hold on through Mr. Market’s ups and downs. In the short run stock prices seem disconnected from a company’s success. But in the long run there is a 100 percent correlation.
Investing is a competitive activity where everyone wants to be above average. But if you use the expertise you already have, you’ll be more likely to achieve your financial goals—and have some fun along the way!
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer