How to tilt the investing odds in your favour

By Dan Hallett on September 21, 2010

My article in this morning’s Globe & Mail offers tips to help investors retain more of the performance available to them.  As I jotted down the first tip – write down your investment goals – I found myself writing down something to the effect of, “…many academic studies confirm the benefits of writing down your goals“.

Then it occurred to me that while I believed this to be true, I couldn’t think of a single study that actually confirmed this belief.  As I searched the Internet for a reputable reference, I quickly found that no big study exists.  A 1996 article in Fast Company magazine offers the best account of trying to track down the often-cited 1953 Yale study – concluding that it’s an urban myth.  But I did find one study.

It didn’t take my long to find a few references to Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor of psychology at Dominican University of California.  Dr. Matthews conducted a small, short-term study which supports the practice of documenting goals.  But a periodic review of goals and inserting some accountability (i.e. involving another person to hold you accountable) are important steps.  And it’s why working with a financial advisor can really help people and why so few do-it-yourselfers lack the discipline to invest successfully.

Dan Hallett

Dan Hallett is Vice President and Principal at HighView. With over 20 years of industry experience, he is widely recognized as an investment expert. His professional opinion is regularly sought by print, TV, radio, and online media publications. He has also contributed to several best-selling personal finance and investment books.
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