An attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” can be quite distasteful. It is generally a statement made in a tone of voice used in an argument or as a snide remark. However, I believe it has a place in our industry. I would not recommend this attitude toward a person, but it might come in handy when it relates to the day-to-day activities of the stock market.
The financial services industry does not want you to take an “I don’t care” attitude toward the stock market. We are bombarded with commercials and advertisements encouraging us to “take advantage of trends” and “be an opportunistic investor.” Whether it is a discount online brokerage firm or a large advice-giving firm, many center their value propositions completely on outwitting the stock market. They want you to be constantly researching stocks, making trades and obsessing over your account balances every hour of every day. They want money to be the complete and consuming focus of your life. They also want you to believe that you can consistently predict how the market will perform.
It seems clear to me that the financial advice industry is selling an illusion of control. They try to get us to believe that we can control, predict and manipulate the stock market to work in our favor and that the more we focus on money, the more of it we can have. It really is a ludicrous sales pitch.
At Master’s we define financial planning as focusing our behaviors on the things we actually can control. How much we save, how we react when the market takes a dive, what financial goals we set for ourselves and what strategies we use to achieve those goals are behaviors that we can control. Trying to “outsmart the market” is not on that list.
Prudent investing through diversification, proper risk assessment and asset allocation is an important part of reaching our financial goals, but it is merely a means to an end. It is a necessary discipline on the path to achieving our financial goals and living a life of fulfillment that is centered on something other than money. So the next time someone asks you what the market did today, whether you think China’s economy is slowing down or when you think the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next, reply with “I don’t know, and I don’t care” in the most polite way possible. We at Master’s will do the same.