Investing by Ear

Remember music lessons?

Photo: Musikrat. Source: Pixabay

I played the French Horn growing up. I started playing in the 4th grade, taking lessons from our band-director and an instructor, Mr. Klinger, who used to come to our home. My parents put up with the blats and brays and never complained – at least to me – although I’m pretty sure they knew musical entertainment was never going to be a reason for me to give up my day job.

So why did they do it? Why did they devote the time, money, and energy to encourage a pretty ordinary kid to practice on an obscure brass instrument for hours and hours every week? (At least it seemed like hours and hours to me at the time. In reality, it was probably a lot less.)

Part of the reason is the liberal-arts tradition of teaching children a broad range of disciplines: reading, writing, math, science, history, and art. These subjects help us to develop and stretch our minds in lots of different directions. Part is continuing family traditions: my parents enjoyed music and wanted to instill that appreciation in their kids. But a big reason is diversification. We don’t know what we don’t know. By encouraging children to explore their talents in a broad range of subjects, they may hit upon a particular ability or passion that can become a vocation in their lives later on.

Photo: Krista Mericle. Source: Wikimedia

It’s the same with investing. A diversified portfolio should have positions in a broad range of industries: consumer stocks, health care, finance, technology, industrial firms, and so on. Our economy is diverse and dynamic, and no one can predict with certainty what area will be the next big thing. It’s prudent to maintain our exposure to as broad a range as possible.

In hindsight, you could say that the money spent on lessons and hours devoted to practicing buzzing my lips and memorizing fingering charts was wasted. Maybe I could have spent the time studying something more practical, like math or engineering. But you never know ahead of time what’s obvious in hindsight.

And I still feel a little thrill when I hear a horn solo or see them in a marching band.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Charter Trust Company

“The Best Trust Company in New England”

By |2018-09-27T09:35:05-04:00September 26th, 2018|Global Market Update|Comments Off on Investing by Ear

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