Go With the Flow Investing

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If this is your first visit to my website and blog, welcome! If you’re an old friend, well, you’ll likely notice things look a little different (hopefully better) than they used to, after my recent upgrade to a more contemporary platform.

Anyone who knows much about me knows that I am not afraid to speak my mind when the occasion calls for it. That said, even I know that there are times when it makes the most sense to go with the flow. Take my old website, for example. While it served its purpose well for quite a while, time and technology had moved on. It was time to surrender to the laws of the Internet and upgrade my site.

I find parallels in the way investing should work as well, as you seek to safely steer your financial interests through the backwaters and the rapids of our capital markets. Let me explain.

whitewater rafting

If you’ve ever gone river rafting, there’s one lesson you learn almost immediately. It’s tough to paddle upstream. Go with the flow, and you’ll find it much easier to steer around the obstacles and reach your destination. Plus, you get to enjoy more of the scenery along the way.

Your investment journey likewise is best made by observing the laws of financial nature. Our markets are a strong and wild force. A wise strategy for moving along is to harness that energy and direct it toward your personal goals, accepting what you cannot change and managing what you can. Try paddling upstream, and you’ll not only have to work very hard, but your efforts are likely to get you nowhere fast.

To invest accordingly, three sensible steps serve as good guides:

1.      Planning – Before you embark, you want to plan. Where do you want to go? How far away is it? How much time have you got to get there? For my clients, I put this plan in writing as an Investment Policy Statement that we both sign, to serve as a personalized map for their journey.

2.      Education – More than merely telling people what to do with their money, I want to help them understand why they’re doing it, so they can proceed with confidence, keeping their investing real and relevant to them over time.

3.      Application – You also want to be equipped for your financial journey with solutions that are right and fitting for you and your particular needs. In other words, don’t pack a suitcase if you’re planning to go for a hike.

As my clients’ advisor, I see my role as that of experienced travel guide, using deep discovery to help them properly plan, education to help them stay the course, and sensible application to maximize their odds for success. Together, we explore key questions such as:

How much risk? Market risks and their commensurate expected rewards are out there, whether you’re using them or avoiding them. The trick is to ensure that your exposure to market risk and expected rewards is best aligned with your personal investment goals.

How much cost? By strictly managing for unnecessary expenses such as excess trading costs or burdensome taxable transactions, you can maximize your expected net returns – the kind that remain in your pocket.

How much activity? Closely related to cost, there are actions you can take that will make a big difference toward achieving your financial goals. Then there are actions many investors take that at best have no effect and at worst become a costly drag on returns. It helps to be able to identify the difference between each, and act accordingly.

In upcoming posts, I’ll explore these and other “go with the flow” investment strategies in more detail. If that sounds like the kind of guidance you could use for your own financial journey, let’s stay in touch. Visit my blog regularly, connect with me on LinkedIn, or be in touch with me directly.


Mark Shelby is President of Vertical Investments, LLC., a Registered Investment Advisory firm offering fee only financial planning serving Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Mclean, Tysons Corner, Reston and Williamsburg Va. Vertical Investments helps successful individuals and families with comprehensive wealth management needs.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific investment advice tailored to an investor’s unique needs, risk tolerance, and investment objectives. Investing entails risks, including possible loss of principal. There are special risk considerations associated with value strategy investing, international investing (including emerging markets), and small company investing. Consider the investment objectives, risks, and expenses of any mutual fund carefully before investing. This information does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Vertical Investments is an investment advisor registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that stated results will be replicated.

Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.