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5 Traits of a Successful Investor

One of the most common questions I get when speaking with a prospective client is, “what are other people doing?”. It’s an understandable question no matter what the topic is. People are curious about what others in their position are doing, it’s only natural to wonder. I think the better question is, “what makes for a successful investor?”. People are doing lots of things, doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Having met with well over 5,000 people in my career I’ve found these 5 traits to be common amongst the most successful investors.

1. They get started. 

I heard someone early in my career say that “procrastination is the thief of all profits”. Now that doesn’t mean if you don’t get started today that you will be facing financial peril. But people who are hesitant to get started with anything typically find more and more excuses that it’s not the “right time”. My favorite quote on this is from Rocky II when Rocky was training with Apollo Creed and wanted to hang it up for the day to return tomorrow. Apollo’s response? THERE IS NO TOMORROW!!!

2. They’re decisive.

Successful investors don’t kick the can down the road (for too long). People get busy and things fall off their radar. What I’ve found is that the most successful investors can say “yes” or “no” rather quickly and move forward.

3. They let emotion come into play (to a degree).

We’ve all seen studies showing how people’s emotions can cause them to make poor investment choices. Selling out of investments when they should hold, or sitting in cash for too long when they should be investing. That’s not what I’m referring to when talking about emotion. I’m talking more about things like debt or big purchases. At the end of the day, your financial plan is about more than just your money, it’s about your life. If you want to pay down your student loans way faster than the math tells you to because you hate debt, do that. It puts you in a better mental state to make good financial decisions.

4. They talk about other parts of their finances.

I think most people assume that financial planning just involves things like investments, insurances, stocks, & bonds etc. But it’s so much more than that. Investors who I think have the best grip on their financial plans often discuss things outside of the normal scope of planning. Things like, buying a new car, or remodeling their bathroom. They want input on how this will affect the other parts of their financial lives.

5. They’re engaged.

This doesn’t mean they’re doing all the research on investments and staying up late at night reading the latest changes to the US Tax Code. What they are doing though is showing up. Showing up to annual reviews, mid-year check ins, and proactively reaching out when they have life changes that we should be aware of. Does this mean you need to send your Financial Planner all your Instagram Stories or TikTok posts, so they know what’s going on in your life 24/7, no! But the more you keep them up to speed with the professional and financial aspects of your life, the better advice they’ll be able to provide.

So, how many of these traits do you have?