Twelve Investment Contradictions

The investment industry is a breeding ground for contradictions; our words, beliefs and behaviours are often in conflict with each other and sometimes themselves.   The causes of such discord are countless but include our unconscious biases, noise, insufficient knowledge and skewed incentives.  Below is a list of my current favourites, which will no doubt be different by tomorrow:

‘Data mining is a major problem for most quantitative investment strategies, machine learning is the future’

‘Volatility is a poor measure of risk for illiquid assets, but have you seen the Sharpe ratio impact of adding them to our portfolios?’

‘Diversity is at the heart of our culture, it just so happens that all our leadership positions are filled by white men’

‘We only want invest in high conviction, distinctive active managers…who consistently outperform’

‘We are acutely aware of the problem of return chasing in mutual fund selection …the first stage of investment process is a performance screen.’

‘We want to find investors who consistently apply their investment process and have the courage of their convictions, unless they perform poorly, and then we want them to do something about it’.

‘I expect to be making growing pension contributions over the very long-term, but want markets to increase in the short-term’

‘I am investing for the long-term, but like to check my portfolio valuation on a daily basis’

‘I want our non-equity positions to diversify our portfolio, unless equities are going up’

‘We are long-term investors but have 23 TVs showing financial news in our office’

‘I am happy to hold higher risk / higher return assets for the long-term, unless they go down in the short-term’

‘It is crucial to accept that randomness inherent in investment markets and take a probabilistic approach to any decision you make, but enough of that, let’s review three month performance’