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Five steps to intelligent investing

Intelligent investing is really just stacking the odds in your favour. Here are five ways to do this:

1. Your margin of safety

The key to successful investing is to establish a margin of safety. The best way is to invest with a method. You might change your method according to the state of the market or prevailing investment trends but it is vital that when you make an investment you know why you are doing it.

2. Be mindful

No-one can predict the future path of the stock market but logic and past performance suggest the long-term trend is upwards. The trend, as they say, is your friend. However, be mindful that past performance is not a guarantee for future success.

3. Knowing what to buy, when to buy and when to sell

One of the hardest things in investment is knowing when to sell. It can be hard to hold on to an investment that has doubled or trebled in value and just as difficult to acknowledge a mistake and cut a loss. History shows that getting out of mistakes early and riding the winners is the way to success.

4. Challenge Mr Market

It is said you should view the market as you are a neurotic business partner. On some days your partner is on top of the world and offers you a high price to buy out your share of the business. On others, he is depressed and will take a low price for his own share. You should seek to buy in the market when it is most down and to look to offload your shares when it is most optimistic. This is difficult but essential.

5. Start straightaway

The key to investment success and the financial security is not asset allocation, share selection or the knowledge of high finance, but time. Don’t let it slip away.

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