Why writing is important when investing

I have not been writing here nearly as much as I would like. This seems like a reasonable activity to stop when things get busy but an investor who does not write and record their thoughts and strategies in some form is worse off in my opinion. Without documenting your thought process, ideas and theories, there is no way to keep track of everything that is going on in the markets and in your own mind let alone what is actually working or not. Fortunately we have a great team at 5i Research who has been able to keep the content flowing for readers and to keep our team on our toes.  

So let this post be a bit of an early New Years resolution. I am going to write more regularly here and use this as a way of documenting, testing, and questioning my own (and in turn that of 5i’s) investment approach, ideas and theories. It will be a bit of a living document for myself, that I can refer back to, learn from and even update. So lets kick it off with why writing or at least documenting is so important when investing and please sign up for the blog below for more posts along these lines. 

Writing keeps you on your toes

First off, you need to have something to write about and this takes thought on its own. It forces you to look at what is happening, what people are talking about, what no one is talking about, what conversations you can add to and what matters to yourself and others. All of these things are areas that force you to stay current, up to date and even be thinking ahead. It also helps you to get an understanding of what ‘the markets’ are thinking or how they view a topic. 

Writing tests your conclusions

Writing, and more so publishing publicly can be brutal. Look no further to comment sections on major news sites. That is why writing can also be so helpful. When you are putting something out there for anyone to see, you better make sure it makes sense. You have nothing to hide behind, it is all out there. This aspect forces you to triple check your thesis, conclusions or ideas. It also acts as an outlet for feedback where some of your conclusions can be challenged.

Challenges status quo

Putting your investment ideas and processes in writing first forces you to summarize your thoughts in a succinct manner. Whether consciously or not, it makes you question your beliefs. Often times I find myself writing something down and saying, ‘wait, does that actually make sense’ or ‘hey, is that rule of thumb true?’. We all have our set of beliefs ingrained within ourselves but as long as it is kept inside, we never really become critical of it. Allowing the thoughts to become more material on a piece of paper or computer screen makes those ideas stare back at us and forces you to address them.

Writing keeps me honest

Having something out there that can be looked upon keeps me honest to myself and to others. It is humbling knowing that you have published something that was totally wrong. Everyone is wrong when investing, multiple times. Of course, we all only like to talk about our successes. Having the bad ideas out there as well keep me honest and help temper any ego when things are going really well. It is helpful to be able to go back and look at past mistakes, see what the thought process was and where it went wrong. It also helps to focus any thoughts or strategies versus jumping all over the place, chasing the next big investment idea that is in a different universe in terms of comfort zone or knowledge. Finally, I also am a better thinker when I write. 

Hopefully helps others

Whether it teaches something you may not have known, you just find it interesting, or it leads to a new line of thinking or questioning in your personal process, the hope is that writing adds value to both the writer and those reading. I also think that the Canadian investing landscape is severely lacking in original investing related content. I don’t know why this is, given the multitude of interesting thoughts and ideas South of the border but I don’t even know if I could count the Canadian based/focused blogs/writers on one hand. The personal finance space is well served and there are lots of great writers in Canadian personal finance land. The Canadian investment space though seems a bit more barren.

Interestingly, whenever someone asks me about how to get started or get experience, the first thing I usually tell them is to start writing. Start a blog with your investment ideas, research and strategies. Worst case is you learn something and improve your knowledge. Best case is someone actually reads it and it becomes a key differentiator in a job application. 

Thanks for sticking it through to the end. I probably have a list of 16 other things I want to write about. As a bit of a teaser, a few of the topics I have lined up are: When to sell, when to average down, investing principles, important metrics and what is 'risk'. So sign up to the blog so you don’t miss them and all the best over the holidays.

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