4 Sept 2021

Confused about investing in a bull market (or a bear market)?

Many years ago, I watched a video on riding motorbikes. That video said that a rider should always be willing to fall. They didn’t say the rider should want to fall, because no one wants to fall. Rather the rider should be willing to fall because falling off a motorcycle is a question of when, and not a question of if.

The same advice is appropriate for investing too.

If you’re investing in the share market, you should be willing to lose money. Notice that I am not saying you should want to lose money, because no one really wants to lose money. Rather, you should be willing to lose money. That means being prepared for when the investment does inevitably go down in value.
Image source: pixabay.com

Today we are in the middle of a raging bull market, and the price of equities is going up almost on a daily basis. What is the narrative that we hear in the media? “The market is overheated.” “The market is expensive.” “The valuations are too high.” We often hear advice to not invest large sums into equity now because the bull run can end any day. That sure sounds like sensible advice.

I haven’t witnessed a bear market yet, but I can imagine what the narrative will be in a bear market. “Don’t invest large sums into equity now because we don’t know how much further the market will fall.” “If you wait a few days/weeks/months, you can get more shares for the same money; why invest now?” Again the same advice despite the inverted market trend.

Thinking critically will reveal to us that waiting with liquid cash runs counter to the more fundamental investing advice: “don’t try to time the market, because it’s a very very hard thing to do.”

But what’s wrong with waiting? We all like a good deal, and why not wait for a bit if you can get the same asset for a better price tomorrow? Because we don’t know when we’ll get that better deal or if a better deal will ever come at all. Waiting for a better deal is actually predicting the future. Predicting the future can be a fun exercise, but do you want to bet your money on such predictions?

If you have the money today, invest it today; don’t wait for a better time that may or may not arrive. Rain or shine, continue your SIP, because the best time to invest is when you have the money to invest. Rather than trying to find the right time to enter or exit based on market conditions, spend your energy in finding the ideal asset allocation for you so that you are systemically buying low and selling high without taking too much (or too little) risk.

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