Creating Your Own Process For Long-Term Portfolio Success

by: Roger Nusbaum

For months now the US equity market has been churning violently in the same general range without having made much progress. This type of action can be a source of frustration for investors. Over the years the comments on my blog have been something of a sentiment gauge, although not infallible.

There have been times like late 2008 and early 2009 where a lot of frustration and even hostility showed up in the comments of the blog, in the comments on my articles at Seeking Alpha, or both. Lately the comments have taken a more aggressive tone than normal on the blog but interestingly not on my posts at Seeking Alpha (SA reruns the same posts).

I've generally been saying the same thing for seven years and sometimes I am a good guy for it and other times I am "deluding" myself. Sentiment is of course very volatile as fear of being broke, losing your nest egg and being out on the street is a core fear for many people and anything that makes those fears perceptually closer to reality, like a malfunctioning stock market, will evoke an emotional response.

Emotional responses can be an enemy of long term portfolio success. I repeatedly make the point about taking bits of process from many sources, including this one if you like, to create your own process. Your own process needs to be one that gives you a reasonable basis to think you are giving yourself a reasonable chance of having enough money when you need it. You also need to have a process that you can understand (as obvious as that sounds), and one that allows you to sleep at night.

It is important to realize that success can be had with any method but failure can also be had with any method. It makes sense to work on refining what you do but contrary to what one comment said, I also think it is valid to dissect other people's mistakes to learn what not to do--this is the reason for the Bill Miller posts over the last few years.

Given how long I've been blogging and the consistency of the posting, it is a good bet that I will keep at it, which means that although I am deluding myself now, I will be a good guy again soon. But then sometime after that I will be back to delusional (or worse, to judge by some comments).

As far as commenter sentiment being an anecdotal indicator for stock prices, the comments would seem to be saying stock prices will go higher but unfortunately there is no Seeking Alpha confirmation as there was in late 2008/early 2009.