VR Logo

Nothing is right

For most investors, most of the time, doing nothing is the right choice

Nothing is right

What does the activity of investment ideally consist of? A lot of people think that investing consists of actions like studying investments, choosing them, monitoring them, looking for new ones, and so on so forth. In other words, a lot of activity.

If I think of the actual activity that should take up most of the time of investors, then it should be nothing. For most--almost all--of the lifetime of an investment, you should be doing nothing about it. The bulk of the activity (if that's the word) of investing is waiting. Waiting for months and years while your investment grows, powered by the monthly drip-irrigation of your SIP instalments.

That's absolutely fine, except when investors think it isn't. Much of the investment information industry is busy giving the impression that investing consists of doing things, and investors who do more will earn more. In most activities in life, that is probably true. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a salaried employee, you will probably do better professionally and earn more if you have what is called a bias for action. Counter-intuitively, this is not true for investing. Investors who think that this is true act when they shouldn't and do worse than others. As someone said, a bored investor is a dangerous thing.

Right now, the Indian equity markets are near an all-time high. Most investors, especially those who have invested steadily in equity mutual funds, are sitting on humongous gains. It's the kind of time that provokes action, through optimism and a desire to fully take advantage of the situation. Resist the temptation. It's a time to do nothing different, nothing extraordinary.

There's a saying about travelling that getting there is half the experience. One could equally say about investments that doing nothing is most of the experience.