Some Things Never Change

As humanity emerges from the most recent crisis, we will read about how things have forever changed. People will write about the impact on how we work, commute, interact, and shop, as well as how the economy and markets will be affected. One thing that will remain constant, however, is human behaviour. Morgan Housel shares his view that while events we encounter in the future will be markedly different from ones we encountered in the past, how people react during and after times of stress will stay the same. In particular, people react in predictable ways when it comes to risk and loss. It is our nature to avoid discomfort or even to ignore small risks, allowing for things to compound and become fragile over time leading to crises. This especially rings true for investors in global financial markets, where investors underestimate the probability of big risks because small risks are so easy to ignore. Market pundits focus on predicting the direction of asset prices, even though they could never know what events may transpire in the coming weeks. Instead of listening to these fortune tellers, investors would be best served by understanding that human nature leads to small compounding risks and that they themselves are subject to the same natural urges. Investing in a way that you can stick to over long periods of time and through the various crises that will inevitably arise is the key to building and maintaining wealth. The simplest way to achieve this is to create a globally diversified, low-cost portfolio with a focus on minimizing exposure to any one type of risk.