High Frequency Portfolio Monitoring: Confession Time.

Beating the Meow Jones Industrial Average. Easy.

I have a confession to make, I check my portfolio often…

Way. Too. Often.

(So often, I’m in two minds about disclosing it).

Like a Skinnerian lab rat on drugs, I seem to be wired to check. Portfolio up and there’s a rush of blood to my head, a subtle yet sublime satisfaction. Portfolio down and I feel like I should re-check my investment thesis or search Google for any company news.

This tells me two things – the first is that if I want to improve my return and my value investing skill, I need to tune out from the market (not to mention my sanity). The second is that maybe I should just become a passive investor, strategically buying ETF’s on down turns whilst mostly just dollar cost averaging, happy beating the market return by a few pips. Whilst passive investing is seductive on many levels (ok, not that seductive!), my more rational self is a dyed in the wool value investor. And I think I can beat the market.

But checking ones portfolio often has actually been proven to reduce returns. It leads to less ‘risk taking’ behaviour, and I imagine, a propensity for switching out of an investment after a decline in market price, hindering any potential recovery while incurring trading fees. Do this often enough and I’ll be an expert in losing money.

So, I’m running a little lab rat experiment of my own.

From 20th August until 1st October 2017 I’m not going to check any of the following:

  1. Retirement account
  2. Investment portfolio
  3. Spreadsheets tracking the above
  4. Apps tracking the above.

This means my net worth update for September won’t be accurate, but really, who cares. I’ll carry the prior month forward.

Hopefully this lets me focus on what’s important, saving for my future, valuing businesses over monitoring market prices and just living my life.

To up the stakes a little, I’m creating a downside. Each and every time I check during this period, I’ll post it here (if I check!). Hopefully that’s incentive enough for me to resist over the next 6 weeks.

I’m gonna post this now before I change my mind and squirrel it away for the rest of eternity, deep into the dark recesses of the ‘drafts folder’!

How often do you check your portfolio? Does it bother you? If you’d like to join me in this experiment, ‘sign up’ in the comments below – we’ll see if we can go until 1st October oblivious to our portfolio market values!