After finishing my 4th triathlon recently, I’ve come to realize that triathletes are a lot like investors. How on earth can I compare sweaty athletes in Lycra to well groomed investors sitting in front of their computers? If you think about it, I believe you will agree that being in a triathlon and investing have many similarities.
The Elite Athlete/Investor
If you have ever done competitive events like races or triathlons, you’ve seen the elite group. You know the type. They have the correct clothing and gear. They have 2% body fat and seem to be made solely of legs and lungs.These people train for events for many hours a day and are the ones that finish in the top 10%.
Elite investors are also a rare breed. Warren Buffet or Donald Trump come to mind. These type people are smarter than the average bear either by a combination of luck, study and/or natural talent and personality. They have huge sums of money and seem to rarely make mistakes. When they do, they are able to use the lesson learned to produce positive results.
The Weekend Warrior
In every event I’ve ever done there are a few people who should have never entered. These are the ones who maybe were athletic in high school but haven’t done much since. However, they still think they are better athletes than most of the population and sign up for events like the 4th of July triathlon. They don’t train other than doing 12 oz curls with a beer while watching Ice Road Truckers on TV. These are the ones who end up pushing their bikes up the biggest hill or walking most of the running portion.
You also have this type of investor. They take no time to study the markets or how to pick the best funds or stocks. They don’t look for the investments that will make the most money with the lowest fees. These folks are looking to get rich quick. They think they have a hot tip or follow the advice of the snake oil salesman only to find out that their money is gone and they somehow did not beat the market.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
In most races, you find competitors, like myself, who are athletic and work out routinely, but are not at the front of the pack. We train for events, but not excessively so. We are well rounded athletes who might have a favorite portion of a triathlon, but can handle the other two events as well. We might be really slow runners, but ride the bike portion really fast to make up for it. We might not place, but we do finish without having to walk with a limp for the next week.
I think most investors also fall into the same type of category. Maybe we aren’t financial geniuses, but we’ve done enough homework to understand the power of compound interest and the tax advantages of various investment strategies. We are well diversified. We might have more experience with one type of investment, but realize that you have to spread your money around to keep balanced in the case of a bad economy. While we probably won’t ever be elite, and we certainly won’t blow all of our money on one deal, we will reach retirement with a good balance to carry us through. We also make sure we have different streams of income to keep us afloat if something else fails.
There are also far too many people who never exercise or invest money. I could only assume, but I bet most get to a point where they certainly wish they had. I don’t want to have any regrets, so I’ll continue to be slow and steady in my athletic and investment endeavors, and I’ll continue to think up crazy analogies while spending two hours in a triathlon. You have to do something to pass the time!
Which athlete/ investor type are you? Are you a better swimmer, biker, runner, or investor?