“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.
Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…”
A successful investor is one who focuses on what is inside of their control, instead of concerning themselves endlessly with what is outside of their direct influence.
The media (both legacy and social) firmly direct our attention towards what is outside of our control. Keeping us hooked on a steady drip of highs and lows, short-lived dopamine hits and bouts of severe FOMO (fear of missing out).
For example, in 2021 it was outlandish returns and in 2022 it is stunning crashes and inflation.
Having your thoughts, feelings and actions dictated by others is no way to live – not just with investing, but life as a whole.
To quote White Goodman, you have to grab the bull by the horns!
Yeah, that’s me, grabbing the bull by the horns. It’s how I do business.
It’s a metaphor.
That actually happened, though...
So, to assist you grabbing the proverbial (or real) bull by the horns, here’s a list of the 5 essential things that are directly in YOURcontrol when investing!
Do not listen to the financial media, it thrives off fear.
Your behaviour, not your investments, will be the #1 determining factor in your ability to build wealth.
Before we jump in, a special thank you to David Hearne, who was kind enough to gift me the book.
I will now be gifting the book on, to help other aspiring financial planners – hopefully the book will pass through many hands before its journey comes to an end.
David is a chartered financial planner who runs Phynancial, an online bookstore helping people get their hands on Nick Murray’s books. He is also active on Twitter. I’d recommend following David to gain insights on retirement planning.
Without further ado, my favourite quotes from Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth.
1. Somebody’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago (Warren Buffet).
2. When your investments, as distinctly opposed to the sweat of your brow, will provide you sufficient income to live a full and joyful life, you are truly wealthy – because you are truly free!
3. No matter how much money you have, if you are still worried, you aren’t wealthy.
4. Fear has a greater grasp on human actions than does the impressive weight of historical evidence.
5. If wealth is truly your goal, stocks aren’t part of the answer, they’re the only answer.
6. Investment performance doesn’t determine real life returns; investor behaviour does.
7. The only meaningful measure of long-term return… is the real rate you earn: the nominal rate less inflation.
8. If you think what you don’t own can’t hurt you, think again.
9. Volatility is not risk… The great long-term risk of stocks is not owning them (check out my post Volatility vs Risk for more on this)
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself … Continue reading The 5 Essentials to Becoming a Successful Investor→
2022 has thus far been a year of bad news and previously unimaginable events! For those folks reading this in the future, I’m sure 2022 will have been a pivotal year that everybody points to for years to come – please correct me if I’m wrong!! You would be forgiven, if you keep up with … Continue reading Explained: The Benefits of Inflation!→
Have you ever wondered how your hard earned cash is actually taxed? Well, wonder no more!!! In this post I lay out how UK income tax works and what it means to you. Myth Buster 101 In a recent poll on my Instagram page, 30% of the respondents believed a higher rate tax payer only … Continue reading Explained: How UK Income Tax Works→
Here are the investing commandments I try to live by.
The first one came to me in a dream 😄 I woke up at 5:30am and wrote the rest down straight away. Almost as if I was a vessel for a higher power!
I am now on the lookout for a burning bush…
Speculating is not investing, it is gambling.
It doesn’t matter how many fancy screens you have, or the hours you’ve spent analysing candlesticks, it is a different game to investing.
You are simply betting on which way the price of an asset will go – as detailed in the next commandment, you cannot know this without a crystal ball.
Investing, on the other hand, is curating a diversified basket of assets and holding them over the long term – whilst ignoring short term movements in price.
The future is unknown.
Stock markets are unpredictable.
No one can predict with any certainty as to what will happen.
If I had told you in 2019 that there would be a global pandemic, what would you have predicted?
The odds are, like most pundits, you would have predicted financial armageddon – I sure did! I held spare cash in my pension awaiting the ‘inevitable’ second dip in 2020…
In hindsight that was a mistake, my portfolio continued to soar throughout 2020 with that cash sitting on the sidelines.
I didn’t follow my own commandments and I paid the price.
Whilst tempting, try to avoid making predictions – the future is unpredictable.
Even worse than making your own predictions, please do not be swayed by others! Financial pundits constantly cry wolf.
Just remember, a broken clock is right twice a day. There is typically a 10% downturn each year, so they’ll eventually ‘be right’.
There is only one prediction I will make:
“Stock markets will be higher in 20 years time than they are now”
Feel free to quote me on that!
The reason I make this prediction is because the historical evidence shows us that it has always been the case:
Over any 20 year period the stock market has achieved positive growth, as detailed above!
To explain the graph, in any 1 year period, the S&P 500 is up 75% of the time. In any 10 year period, it is positive 94.28% of the time and once you hit 20 years, it is 100% positive across any 20 year period.
Those 20 year periods include, but are not limited to:
The great depression
World War 2
The tech bubble
2008 housing crisis
If you want to build real wealth, and not work forever, then your money needs to be working for you. Therefore, you need to avoid non-productive assets and invest in productive assets.
Gold has never worked a day in its life, it has just sat around for three billion years. It does not compound, it does not produce anything. It just sits around being scarce.
Equities, on the other hand, work for you 24/7. They are real life businesses offering products and services to real people.
Put your money to work. Don’t let it languish in non-productive assets.
This one should be obvious but I’m afraid people are emotional creatures. It is important to understand that being irrational is in our nature. Once you acknowledge this, it becomes easier to stop yourself making emotional errors.
As investors we are often our own worst enemy.
For example, I was working at HL during the crash of 2020 and spoke to multiple people who sold on the way down.
They all said something similar:
“I’ll sell now, then buy back in when the market recovers”
They acknowledged to me that the market would recover, but the emotional pain was too great! They would rather sell when the market was low and buy back in when it was higher.
It is completely irrational, but if you empathise with someone seeing their net worth plummet, it is emotionally understandable.
Whilst understandable, it is our job as investors to not allow our emotions to lead us towards financial ruin. Buying high and selling low is financially destructive.
If you find yourself wanting to sell during a crash, please take a step back and… breath.
Remember, all market declines are temporary. They are baked into the stock market. If you look back across history, you will see that a market decline is often followed by the stock market reaching new heights.
Hold tight. Don’t look at your portfolio. It will be OK.
We know this. Media companies are not on our side.
They all produce a negative news cycle that plays on our emotions. Delete their apps from your phone and generally avoid the negativity they constantly pump out. It will make your life more pleasant!
GameStop. Meme stocks. Crypto sh*t coins. Squeezing silver. Buying oil because the US bombed Iran. These are all trends which are financially destructive.
If you are chasing someone else’s past gains or acting on a third party tip then you are too late!
To quote Margin Call:
“Be first, be smarter or cheat”
That guy from Margin Call
The first two are hard to do and good luck with the third one – I wouldn’t recommend it!
If you chase every trend you are actually chasing financial ruin, and I’m afraid you might find it.
Ignore the noise. Don’t give in to FOMO. Stick to a sensible, evidence based plan for wealth creation.
Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog 😀 If you’d like to receive new content, please subscribe:
Enjoy the rest of the post 😁
Speaking of evidence-based plans for wealth creation, here it is!
Global equities = the best businesses in the world, producing real products and services for real people.
As we know, we cannot predict the future, so it is not wise to only choose a handful of companies to invest in. It is much smarter to buy a lot of them and hold for the long term.
The cream always rise to the top.
When you invest in equities you are setting yourself up to benefit from the magic of compounding (money making money). Einstein called compounding ‘the 8th wonder of the world’ and he was a pretty smart chap!
When investing in our global basket of equities, we want to keep our costs down. Equities compound, costs negatively compound.
If your fees are too high, then your investment growth will be stunted.
Luckily, there are lots of options out there to invest in a low-cost manner. You want to look out for:
Platform fee (the charge from the company holding your investments – eg HL, Vanguard etc)
Fund charges (there are a few, annual fee, transaction fees etc – check the KIID)
Dealing charges/other admin
Try and keep these charges as far away from 1% as possible! I think my ISA charges are about 0.35% all in.
Think decades, not days.
Once you have shifted your focus it is much easier to not worry about short term volatility, or the latest trends.
Investing is a long term game. It is about building wealth to generate yourself an income in the future.
My number one top tip for those looking to invest. Automate!
Set up a monthly deposit, ideally on payday, and then get on with your life. Check out my post, Automation is King, for more details.
The second step to this commandment is to increase the level of your contributions whenever possible – it will have a startling effect on your wealth creation!
Quick maths to demonstrate the importance of increasing your contributions:
Value After 30 Years
£200, no annual increase
£200, increasing contributions by 10% each year
*assumes 7% annual return
A mind boggling difference! And it isn’t hard to do. The first year you invest £200 a month, in the second year £220 a month and so on.
(In an ideal world your earnings will increase more rapidly, allowing you to invest more in a shorter timeframe).
I saved the most important until last, follow the above commandments and then get on with your life!
Do not waste hours of your life going over and obsessing over investing. There is more to life than money.
Money is simply a tool to help you live the life you deserve. Investing helps you ensure you have enough money to do so until your dying day!
Decide what a good life looks like to you then go and live it, with your investments ticking away in the background.
Knowing I have my monthly investments sorted means I fully enjoy the present.
Thanks for reading,
Financial Planner-in-waiting/Burning bush enthusiast
If you enjoy my content, please subscribe. You will get new posts straight to your inbox:
I made it. 30 laps around the sun! My twenties were a full of highs and lows. Great experiences and friendships. Love and failure. Nights of excess and periods of reflection. Here is a list of thoughts on life and investing in no particular order from me at the big 3-0.
I’ve been attempting to write this blog post for some time, however I have never been happy with the result. What I’ve come to realise is that Nick Murray’s words speak for themselves. Trying to comment on, review or explain his message just muddies the water. Nick is a talented writer. His ideas are well … Continue reading Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth: An Ode to Equities→
A problem we have as humans is our tendency to compare upwards. Especially with the advent of social media, it is all too easy to compare our situation with someone who is better off than us.
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid the fact that there will always be someone who is better off than you.
But, what you probably don’t think about is how much better off you are than others. It is not in our nature to compare downwards.
So, come with me on a journey of downward comparison.
What if I told you that, in all likelihood, you are within the top 10% for earned income worldwide?
Imagine this; your name is on a list of people who’s income outstrips 90% of the global population. So is mine and anyone who is likely to read this post. Welcome to the elite club.
How did you make it into this club? Most likely through the lottery of birth. Over half of the worlds population live on $10 or less a day, with roughly 1 billion people who live on less than $1 a day.
There are 30 countries, the UK included, with over 90% of their population falling into the global middle class.
To put this into perspective, let’s look at an annual income of £25,000. If you earn £25,000 then you are even more elite than the 10% club! You, you lucky chap, have breached the top 5% for global income!
At £25,000 per year, only 3.2% of the global population earn more than you. 96.8% of the population earn less money than you – that is over 7.5 billion people!
Now, before you say, ‘but the cost of living is higher in developed countries, £25,000 doesn’t get you far in the UK’, let me me tell you this; at £25,000 you are earning more than 70% of the UK population.
Feeling better about your situation? I hope so, otherwise this post isn’t doing its intended job!
Whilst upward comparison promotes jealously and envy, downward comparison is a powerful tool for generating gratitude – which is important for our personal wellbeing.
Next time you find yourself comparing upwards, being envious of another’s life or possessions, remember that there are potentially billions of people who would be envious of your life.
Now, I will concede that downward comparison may also prompt feelings of guilt, however I believe these to be unfounded.
We are all playing the cards we’ve been dealt, so do not feel guilty about where you land on the spectrum. Giving up your worldly possessions and moving somewhere to live on less than $1 per day wouldn’t help anyone!
Be grateful for your privileged position and use it as a catalyst for good, both internally and externally – I’ll leave it up to you as to how you go about that 😊
To finish, let’s leave income behind and look at how different UK households manage their assets. It should give you an idea as to where you are going right or wrong in your wealth building journey.
(The poorest households are on the left, with the wealthiest households on the right).
The striking difference is between physical assets vs business assets. The lowest percentiles have a huge chunk of wealth in physical assets, whilst the wealthiest of this nation own business assets.
Without going into too much detail, this is the key to becoming wealthy – you must own productive assets that make money for you. Check out my short post, Owner > Consumer to find out why.
Property makes up a large chunk of assets held, which isn’t surprising for the property-centric UK. Property has generally been great for most people, appreciating in value over time.
I’d like to see pensions making up a bigger chunk of overall assets, I believe the graph shows they are being under-utilised. A pension is a Wealth Creation Machine and should not be avoided.
The below graph again shows a huge disparity between the top and bottom households in the UK. It pains me to see zero-return assets and savings assets dominating the bottom half of the graph. Your money must be working for you if you wish to grow real wealth.
It is unsurprising to see the correlation between wealthy households and productive assets. Again, check out Owner > Consumer to find out more.
So, the moral of the story is:
Stop comparing upwards if you want to be happy!
Take a step back and gain perspective by comparing downwards.
Wealthy households hold a high percentage of their net worth in productive assets.
Poorer households hold their net worth in low or no return assets.
Put your money to work if you want to build wealth.
Want to see where your income puts you? Check out these calculators:
“Real returns are found on the other side of volatility” In the investing world volatility is used as a primary measure of risk. However, once you understand volatility, you’ll realise the real risk is not investing. Volatility makes for an excellent headline, but it is not a real risk over the long term – in … Continue reading Volatility vs Risk→
Here are the investing commandments I try to live by. The first one came to me in a dream 😄 I woke up at 5:30am and wrote the rest down straight away. Almost as if I was a vessel for a higher power! I am now on the lookout for a burning bush… Speculating is … Continue reading 11 Investing Commandments→
Investing turns you from a mere consumer to an owner. When you invest in the stock market you are investing in a collection of great businesses, which provide products and services to real people. Ones you and I interact with everyday. By investing in the stock market you are investing in our way of life. … Continue reading Owner > Consumer→