The value of my investment portfolio was at its highest in October 2021, during the peak of the bull market.
9 months later, as I’m writing this in June 2022, my investment portfolio has since gone down by 60%. Sixty. Percent.
This article compiles the thought processes I have at this time. What use is having a personal finance blog if I don’t use it as a cathartic outlet 🙂
Obligatory disclaimer: Nothing in here should be taken as financial advice. I am talking about MY decisions for my own investment portfolio, which are reflective of MY goals, MY risk tolerance and MY preferences. For personalised advice, please consult a financial planner.
First up, I’m alright
Losing money sucks, but before I lost 60% within 9 months, my investment portfolio has gained xxxx% in 10+ years. So while I may complain about losing money, I’m still way ahead than when I first started out.
Here I’d like to thank my friend Adam for sharing the image below with me, because this is the most accurate representation of my situation right now.
My pain level is tolerable
On scale of 1-10, with 1 being lalala not affected at all, what bear market? and 10 being maximum pain, hugging crying myself to sleep, my pain level is around… 4.
This is due to two main reasons, namely:
- The fact that I have a healthy amount of savings, and
- The fact that I can still earn money
If I didn’t have savings nor work, my pain level would be higher. All my risky investments – crypto, stocks (via unit trust/mutual funds/ diversified portfolios in roboadvisors) are play money, not survival money.
The truth is I should have rebalanced my portfolio, but…
Rebalancing portfolio is easy in theory but hard in practice
Here’s an oversimplification of ‘rebalancing portfolio’:
- Say you have RM50,000, and your monthly commitments add up to RM3,000 per month
- You set aside 6 months’ worth of savings or RM18,000 in savings instruments*. You NEVER touch this money if you can help it. You don’t have/paid off credit card and personal loan debt
- For the remaining RM32,000, you allocate 90-99% in long-term investments that suit your risk appetite and 1-10% in a fun investment of your choice (stocks-trading, crypto, forex, whatever that gives you the doki doki)
- You got lucky! Your fun investment 10x-ed! You turned RM3,200 into RM32,000!
- (P/s – It could also go the other way, and your fun investment goes down to zero)
Now you have RM64,000 (initial RM32k + RM32k you 10x-ed). A disciplined person would rebalance their portfolio to maintain the same 90/10 ratio. Your new ‘play money’ amount is up to RM6400, not the whole RM32,000.
But here’s where it gets tricky. Emotions will take over. I know I should rebalance, you thought, but what if I can pull it off again? Why 10x just RM6400, when I can 10x the RM32,000?
This is what’s happening to me. I have the ‘what if’ syndrome, big time. No doubt about it.
The ‘what if’ syndrome
Do you have the ‘what if’ syndrome as well? You might, if you have said any of these things:
- I should have bought earlier
- I should have sold at the time
- I should have kept it
- I should have bought more
You see, my previous experience in selling some of my bitcoin years ago, when it was in the 4-digit range is STILL haunting me to this day. I wish I didn’t sell, I wish I kept it.
And this is what’s stopping me from taking profit during the bull market and rebalancing. I didn’t want to feel regret again.
And the thing is, you could be educated in financial planning and still be afflicted with the ‘what if’ syndrome. Roshan Kanesan (previously Ringgit & Sense at BFM Radio, now Senior Financial Planner at RinggitPlus) also talked about it.
(P/s – Btw at the time of writing, $Zoom is back at $110 per share)
As for me, I freaking took and completed all four Certified Financial Planner modules myself, so it’s not like I don’t know what I should rationally do.
I don’t regret it
It hurts, but I don’t regret not rebalancing my portfolio even if it fell by 60%.
The thing is, I am 34 years old. My investments are mostly comprised of high-risk investments: crypto, unit trust and roboadvisors (Aggressive portfolios). The way I see it, I only have a few more short years to be a high risk investor before I have to shift into a more moderate style of investing. If not now, when kind of thing.
I’m not pulling this out of thin air. This is the basis of the asset allocation rule (actually more of a guideline than a rule), which states that the younger you are, the more risk you can take with your investment portfolio.
(Although admittedly, I am taking more risk than I should. Do as I say, not as I do kids)
And secondly, and this is my opinion, I like that my portfolio is bitcoin-heavy. Volatility is the price I pay for a global asset that is permissionless by design and promotes self-autonomy.
You see, Bitcoin isn’t just an investment for me, it is an ideology. For better or for worse, my conviction is strong. It’ll take a few decades to know if I’m on the right or wrong side of history 🙂
For now, I’ll ride it out
For now, until I learn how to manage/overcome my ‘what if’ syndrome, and until/if I lose trust in Bitcoin, my main strategy is earn more. I can’t control the market, but I CAN control my income. The more effort I put in, the more I’ll earn.
Either way, live and learn. The good thing is I’m still young and have a lot of working years left. I have time to rebuild wealth, and I’m not starting from zero.
As for the pain? Meh, I’ll get over it; this is one of the many bear cycles I’ll experience in my lifetime. Might as well get used to it.
I know that many of my readers also experience investment losses at this time. I can’t offer any advice (not qualified), but just know that psychologically speaking, the human brain is wired to amplify losses more than gains.
All we can do is acknowledge these feelings, learn how we react to it (do you panic sell? do you stay the course and continue monthly investment?) and hopefully be better investors from here onwards.
Thanks for reading this post of mine. Let me know how your portfolio is doing, and what you plan to do.
For those of you who are made of stronger stuff than I am and ready to seek professional advice to get the best possible course of action instead of hoping everything will work out, go ahead and hire a financial planner. All the best 🙂