How to trade and invest when life returns to normal

Seek expert advice, follow the fundamentals and adopt a thematic investing approach

Teenager counting savings. Getty Images
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The Covid-19 pandemic has made us more content with what we have. Yes, you read that right. Thanks to the pandemic, the definition of wealth has shifted, according to financial services company Charles Schwab’s 2021 Modern Wealth survey.

An average of $1.9 million net worth is now considered wealthy – $700,000 less than the $2.6m required to be considered wealthy in the Charles Schwab poll last year.

A change in priorities has led to the decline in the benchmark to be considered wealthy. Added emphasis on mental peace, values and healthy relationships now trump the need to be rich. The value for money has also increased among individuals.

In the UAE, residents’ savings have increased during the pandemic, with bank accounts swelling to nearly Dh199 billion from Dh10bn from January to April 2021, according to the Central Bank of the UAE.

Now, wealth has less to do with how much you earn and more to do with savings. But is this a sustainable approach?

Easy money at your fingertips

Understandably, the Covid-19-induced movement restrictions and travel bans led to reduced spending globally. With fat bank balances, the willingness to earn money the traditional way seems to be fading.

As economies shut down, those fortunate not to experience job loss could tuck away discretionary savings or invest in a rebounding stock market. Many first-time investors ventured into trading during 2020, but without proper guidance.

Amateur investors, propelled by a social media frenzy and boredom, poured money into risky investments, such as special purpose acquisition companies and meme stocks. Thanks to the Reddit crew, the whiplash in meme stocks and cryptocurrency lasted much longer than expected.

The general population got too used to having easy money at their fingertips.

How to re-route?

Investors must think rationally with a long-term perspective. A minimalistic way of living is not the only option.

They also need to decide if they want to trade, invest or do both. None of the options are impossible with proper guidance and advice.

A thematic investing approach may be ideal to develop a macro-outlook on markets
Vijay Valecha, Century Financial

While staying at home, investors adopted traits such as panic selling, pessimism and taking higher risk as they tried to replicate previously profitable trades without having a view on the instrument. This approach will not work anymore.

Here are a few tips to maintain financial stability when life reverts to the old normal.

  • Don’t be embarrassed to seek advice. Naïve investors may succumb to emotions and not remain objective. Financial advisers often help investors develop the soft skills required to trade.
  • A thematic investing approach may be ideal to develop a macro outlook on markets. Observing trends and volatility levels lead to more educated purchases. For example, the technology and space sectors are in the limelight now.
  • As far as long-term investments are concerned, fundamentals lead the way. No matter how volatile times are, fundamentally strong companies are the ones that remain resilient.
  • Making the same trade may not have uniform consequences for all. The one-for-all strategy does not apply in trading.
  • Invest what you know, nothing more, nothing cliche. As billionaire investor Warren Buffet once said: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

If a trade makes someone rich overnight, it is most likely not a skill but just good fortune. Once pre-pandemic times return, along with increased expenses, you need to be more than just lucky to make the right investments.

Consistently making the right call is crucial because luck will not get you by.

Vijay Valecha is chief investment officer at Century Financial.

Updated: August 09, 2021, 4:00 AM