In theory, successful long-term investing seems pretty straightforward: buy a diversified set of companies with solid business prospects and reasonable valuations, patiently monitor them over years or even decades, and watch your money grow. Simple, right? If only it were that easy.
Unfortunately for many investors, emotions get in the way. Whether it’s selling out of panic during a market decline or a desire to time the markets based on overconfidence, it has become all-too-common for investors to sabotage their returns.
To put this into perspective, the graph below shows just how much returns have been impacted by missing varying numbers of the best days in the S&P 500 Index over a span of 45 years:
Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors – “Investor Discipline” PowerPoint slide deck
The results are hard to dispute; being patient and not reacting to all the short-term noise in the media and markets do go a long way in building wealth without derailing performance.
Investors who stayed the course in the first quarter of 2016, an extremely volatile period, would agree.