Dear Investor,

Welcome to the complex yet fascinating world of investing. Like you, I am an investor and over the past five decades, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the intricacies of financial markets, making my fair share of mistakes, and, most importantly, learning from them. As you embark on your investing journey, I’m here to share with you the ABCs of investing, with a touch of wisdom gained through experience.

A is for Analyze: Invest in What You Understand: Early in my investing career, I made a mistake that stemmed from overestimating my own understanding of a particular industry. In the late 1960s, I invested in a technology company without fully grasping the complexities of the rapidly evolving sector. My lack of thorough analysis and comprehension of the business proved to be a costly oversight.

What I learned from this mistake is the importance of investing in what you truly understand. It’s crucial to have a deep knowledge of the companies you’re investing in, their industries, and the broader economic factors that may affect them. Blindly following trends or investing in businesses you don’t comprehend is a recipe for disaster.

B is for Bond: Partner with the Right People: One of the cornerstones of my successful investment journey has been my partnership with a competent & trustworthy financial advisor. However, even in this partnership, I’ve made mistakes in underestimating the value of aligning with the right people. In the early days, I hesitated to fully embrace a clear investment philosophy, opting for a more diversified approach.

My mistake was not fully recognizing the power of concentration in high-quality businesses. Over time, I learned that partnering with the right people and adopting a focused investment strategy can lead to more substantial long-term gains. Surround yourself with individuals who challenge your thinking and share your commitment to sound investing principles.

C is for Circle of Competence: Stay Within Your Limits Perhaps the most valuable lesson from my decades of investing is the concept of the “Circle of Competence.” I made a significant mistake early on by venturing outside my comfort zone and investing in complex financial instruments that I didn’t fully understand. The result was a substantial financial setback.

From this mistake, I learned the importance of recognizing the limits of your knowledge and expertise. It’s crucial to stay within your circle of competence, focusing on industries and businesses where you have a genuine understanding. This approach minimizes the risk of making ill-informed decisions and maximizes the potential for sustainable success.

In reflecting on my biggest mistakes, I’ve come to appreciate the profound lessons they imparted. Investing is not just about the triumphs but also the setbacks that shape our wisdom. As you navigate the financial landscape, remember to analyze, partner wisely, and stay within your circle of competence.

The journey of investing is an ongoing process of learning and adapting. Embrace the ABCs, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy the rewarding journey that is investing.


An Octogenarian Investor

We would love to discuss partnering with you no matter where you are on your investing journey. Please reach out by phone (864-293-7452) or schedule a meeting via our website.


Dave Conley, CFP