When I was growing up I didn’t like numbers. They scared me.
Now, however, I get it. Numbers are great. They are an efficient way to transmit information and show value (or lack thereof).
In the financial world, numbers are thrown about endlessly and it can become a bit much!
So, I thought I’d provide a distilled list of 10 numbers which will change your perspective on investing… and maybe even life itself!
A Word on Averages
Before we jump in, I’d like to add a note on numerical averages.
Averages can be deceiving. In fact, there is often nothing average about them.
If I was to ask you if you have an average number of legs, how would you reply?
Take a moment to think about it.
Got your answer? Ok.
If you have two legs, then you are not average. In fact, you have an above average number of legs. Those with fewer than 2 legs pull down the average.
None of us are an average person, as an average person does not exist.
Whilst averages have their limitations, they are still helpful – much like a rule of thumb.
So without further ado, here is a list full of averages!
1) 4,000 Weeks
This is roughly the average amount of weeks us humans have to roam on this peculiar planet.
For context, you’ve used up 1,000 of them before you are 20. Ouch.
So why am I telling you this?
I promise it’s not because I’m some morbid bastard looking to ruin your day… I’ll leave it to the news to deliver that sort of thrill!
I’m telling you because it sets the scene for all the other numbers yet to come in this post. In fact, it sets the scene for every decision you have left to make in your life.
We were all born without consent and presented with the paradox of infinite possibilities coupled with a finite amount of time to do them in.
Therefore, it is important to take note of your mortality and then ask, ‘what the hell do I want to do with my time here?’.
Knowing what you want to get out of this one precious and wild life will allow you to then act accordingly.
If you don’t know what you want then it is very hard to make any decisions – this is especially true when it comes to investing and financial planning.
So, what do you want?
Bonus fact: there was a 1 in 400 trillion chance of you being born!
I’ll leave you to marinate on that for a moment…
If you want to delve deeper into the depths of your mortality, be sure to check out my 2nd most popular post: Momento Mori: Carpe Diem’s Older Brother.
2) 25% & 75%
In any one year period, the stock market is typically up 75% of the time and down 25% of the time.
Knowing this allows you to prepare for the inevitable times when your investments temporarily slump, with the knowledge that a brighter day is on the horizon.
That is the amount of times the S&P 500 (the de-facto proxy for the global stock market) has provided a negative return over any 20 year period since 1926.
To use another number to illustrate the point: 100%.
The S&P 500 has provided a positive return over any 20 year period since 1926 100% of the time.
During this time, the markets have been through:
> The Great Depression
> 1970’s Inflation
> Dotcom Bubble
> 2008 Crisis
What does this tell us?
Stay the course.
Investors are rewarded for their patience.
4) 20 & 51 Months
20 months = average length of a bear market (when asset prices fall for a sustained period).
51 months = average length of a bull market (when asset prices rise for a sustained period).
Behind every bear, is a bull waiting to be unleashed!!
Bear markets are a great time for those of us that are accumulating, as we can get more bang for our buck – ideal!
For those who are in the decumulation stage (drawing income from assets), it is sensible to have sufficient cash savings to take income from whilst in a bear market.
5) 14 & 47 Months
14 months = average length of a recession (when an economy shrinks for two or more consecutive quarters, measured by GDP… I know, not a thrilling definition!).
47 months = average length of expansion (a growing economy).
We live in boom and bust economies, there is no avoiding it.
Recessions are inevitable, as are the period of growth that follows.
Luckily for us, our economies tend to boom and bust in an upward trajectory.
An interesting thing to note here is that the length of bull and bear markets do not mirror that of recessions and expansions.
This is the amount of global dividends paid to equity investors in 2021.
Dividends are what makes buying equities (AKA, the greatest companies in the world) such a force for wealth creation.
Not only do you benefit from the capital appreciation in value over time, they also pay you money!!!
Yes, you get paid for owning equities!
Remember, equities are real companies! They provide goods and services to the world’s population in exchange for profit.
Once companies have reinvested some of the profits for future growth, they are likely to pay out that profits to shareholders in the form of a dividend.
This makes equities a highly productive asset to hold.
If you reinvest those profits in more equities, you begin to benefit from the wonders of compound interest and exponential growth.
Each year you don’t invest in equities you are missing out on the greatest wealth creation mechanism ever invented!!!
Get yourself a slice of that dividend pie 🥧
This is one to watch out for, as it gets thrown about a lot. The S&P 500 has an average annual return of 10.7%.
Whilst correct, it is an average, so be careful not to expect 10% annual returns like clockwork!
When looking at the S&P 500 annual returns, you’ll find that a 10% return rarely appears:
|YEAR||S&P 500 RETURN|
Only twice in 30 years was the annual return actually c.10%.
Whilst you wouldn’t have received a steady 10% a year, if you’d invested £10,000 in 1992 and reinvested all the dividends, you’d now have £170,000.
That’s a 1,600% total return on investment. The price you pay for such returns is volatility.
It is a long, wild and bumpy ride to true wealth.
(Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns… always best to pop that in somewhere!).
As always, thanks for reading.
Associate Financial Planner/Rainman
*Disclaimer: this article is not personal advice based on your circumstances*
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