10 Investing Principles Fundamental to Successful Outcomes

by KenFaulkenberry

in Investment Basics

Investing Principles

Investing Principles

There are fundamental investing principles that apply to each of us whether we are seasoned portfolio managers or a novice investor. It never hurts to take time to periodically review these important principles and improve the foundations upon which we make investment decisions.

Here are 10 investing principles fundamental to successful outcomes. Notice many of these principles are inter-linked.

10 Fundamental Investing Principles

1. Embrace an Investing Strategy

It’s important to know what kind of investor you are and adhere to the principles of your investing strategies. What kind of investor are you; value, contrarian, growth at a reasonable price, growth, or momentum?

If you choose to be a value investor you are at the right place to learn more. I believe investment decisions should be valuation-based. Whichever investing strategies you choose, maintain a consistent approach. In other words, a value investor should not be participated in momentum investing.

2. Invest With a Margin of Safety

If you buy an asset for less than its real value you have a margin of safety. One of my favorite sayings is: Price Matters! The best plan to lower risk is to buy investments at a price that is lower than the real or intrinsic value.

A low price means greater upside appreciation if conditions are favorable. At the same time, a low price provides a margin of safety if circumstances are not ideal. Always plan on less than ideal conditions, something usually goes wrong.

3. Asset Allocation is #1

Your asset allocation, how you divide your portfolio among different asset categories, will be the biggest determinant of your investment returns. I find this is where many investors fail because they put little thought or effort into their asset allocation strategy.

If you place your money into overvalued asset categories you will experience poor long term returns. It’s important to overweight asset categories that are bargain priced and underweight or avoid asset categories that are expensive.

4. Diversification is Vital

Investment diversification in small numbers provides enormous benefits. In other words, five investments is much better than two, ten investments is better than five.  However, the marginal benefits of adding additional investments decreases as the numbers get larger until the costs become greater than the benefits.

Both under diversification and over diversification are common mistakes made in portfolio management. Most studies show optimization occurs somewhere between 15 and 30 individual investments.

5. Invest For the Long Term

Short term investing is one of the biggest downfalls of current investing strategies. The truly great investors realize if you buy an investment at a favorable price it may take time for the market to recognize its true value.

Long term investing is one of the most important investing principles because short term trading usually leads to poor long term performance. This is common because many investors let fear and greed cause them to make bad decisions. The long term will take care of itself if you make wise investment decisions.

6. Keep Expenses Low

Most investors don’t realize how much difference high expenses make to their portfolio. Take a look at the example I provide in Mutual Fund Expense Ratio – The Effects on Performance:


-$100,000 lump sum investment for 30 years.

-6.5% real rate of return less 0.4% expense ratio for self directed investor.

-6.5% real rate of return less 1.4% expense ratio for mutual fund investor.

=Real Rate of Return of 6.1% for self directed portfolio grows to $590,829

=Real Rate of Return of 5.1% for mutual fund portfolio grows to $444,715

The Difference is over $146,000!!!

In other words, over a 30 year period, an increase in expenses of 1% can cost your portfolio more than the original principle!

7. Use Compounding to Your Advantage

Compounding or exponential growth (they mean the same thing) is a powerful financial concept. Understand how it works for you and why dividend growth compounding multiplies the value of compounding.

It’s equally important to understand the devastation of reverse compounding. The more of your portfolio you lose the harder it is to make it back because you lose your principal.  A 10% loss only requires an 11% gain to get back to break-even. However, a 50% loss requires a 100% gain to get back to break-even.

8. Employ Risk Control Strategies

Because it is so important to not lose your principal you must employ risk control strategies. Portfolio volatility is an investment return killer. If you don’t control risk you will suffer greatly in bear markets. Avoiding large portfolio drawdowns should be one of your preeminent investing principles.

9. Anticipate Market Volatility and Make it Your Friend

Despise portfolio volatility but embrace market volatility. You can control portfolio volatility but you cannot control the inevitable volatility of investment markets.

Therefore, you should be prepared to take advantage of investment opportunities. At the same time, you need to be cognizant of overvalued assets and be willing to move to cash when conditions are unfavorable.

10. Control Your Own Destiny

No one cares about your money more than you do. Wall Street fraud, conflicts of interest, and outrageous fees make self-directed investing an attractive alternative.

Technology and the internet have brought down transaction costs and provide the means to get information and guidance at a very low cost. There has never been a better time period for the self-directed investor who is willing to put a little effort into investing.

I created the Arbor Investment Planner to provide the self-directed investor the information and guidance needed to successfully manage a portfolio. If you agree with the investing principles outlined here and throughout the AAAMP Value Blog you might want to consider one of my premium service plans.

Premium members receive the Arbor Asset Allocation Model Portfolio (AAAMP) presented in easy to understand percentages for each investment. Precise trade alerts are emailed directly to members.

Maybe you lack the time, resources, or knowledge to feel comfortable investing alone. The Arbor Investment Planner will give you the guidance you need to make your own decisions with greater confidence.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at kenfaulkenberry@aaamp.com or 281-719-8904.

Written by KenFaulkenberry


AAAMP Blog by Ken Faulkenberry
Ken Faulkenberry earned an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business with an emphasis in investments. Ken has 25 years of investment experience and is dedicated to helping people with self-directed investment management through the Arbor Investment Planner. His asset allocation strategies have an outstanding performance record.
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