November 9, 2021


Dennis Fagan
Aaron Fagan

Given the financially stressful times we find ourselves in, it seems inconsistent that the stock market is near an all-time high.

When this occurs, we take the time to revisit some of the factors that influence the process of making an investment decision. Keep in mind that for all of us, two of our primary financial concerns in life are maintaining our standard of living and caring for our families. At different stages of our lives these concerns are defined in varying manners.

Regardless of what phase of your life you find yourself in, generally the following five factors must be quantified and weighed prior to making a decision, financial or otherwise. They include risk, reward, the ability to predict an approximate outcome, the probability that outcome will occur and the volatility one experiences along the way.

First, one must identify the potential consequences of an action and then contrast it with the cost of inaction. Then, one must identify the potential RISK of the action (or lack thereof) relative to the potential REWARD (return) of that action of the lack of action. Furthermore, through that action or inaction, one must evaluate the PROBABILITY of the intended result being realized?

Similar considerations apply to the investment process. Investors must ask themselves, “What is the risk of subscribing to the belief that the stock market is not the appropriate vehicle for our long-term investment needs due to the fact that over the past decade it has gone nowhere?” The risk is that you are wrong and that the American Economy and therefore the U.S. Stock Market will eventually recover from this malaise. However, you will not participate in this growth as your investments will be out of the market. Furthermore, even if you are correct in your belief, over a long period of time there is not a direct corollary between stock market returns and the performance of the economy where the specific company is domiciled.

For example, the Japanese economy has been mired in a slump for the past two decades and yet, prior to the “unintended acceleration” scare, the stock of Toyota Motor Company performed very well.

Conversely, investors should also ask, “What is the reward of over-allocating assets on a percentage basis to stocks relative to the risk that I am willing to take?” Given the low interest rate environment in which we are and will most likely be living in over the next year or so, investors into fixed-income instruments like Certificates of Deposit and Bonds are searching for more income and growth. Some wisely and others unwisely have begun to shoulder portfolio risk by investing into the stock market and as a consequence have reduced the predictability as well as the probability of a specific outcome.

Finally, ask yourself, “what is the cost of being wrong relative to the benefits of being right?”

THE BOTTOM LINE – We recognize that this column is broad in nature and intentionally vague at times. However, when investing if you focus on all four factors, risk, reward, predictability and probability, you will make fewer mistakes than if you focus on three or less.

Please note that all data is for general information purposes only and not meant as specific recommendations. The opinions of the authors are not a recommendation to buy or sell the stock, bond market or any security contained therein. Securities contain risks and fluctuations in principal will occur. Please research any investment thoroughly prior to committing money or consult with your financial advisor. Please note that Fagan Associates, Inc or related persons buy or sell for itself securities that it also recommends to clients. Consult with your financial advisor prior to making any changes to your portfolio. To contact Fagan Associates, Please call (518) 279-1044.

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