Greed - The Ugly Duckling of Investing

Let's stay focused everyone! The election is over and the economy is still at the front of our minds and our wallets. Today I've asked Branden Moskwa B.ASBE founding Partner, to come and give us some help and a look into greed!


Ah, yes, that evil five letter word can get one into a some hot water when it comes to investing in the stock market now can't it? I'm sure we've all been there, at one time or another, where the evil has overcome and we think; hold on for a just a little bit longer and I can make even more money than I could if I sold right now. Greed can be defined as an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth. Yes, that sounds just about right, certainly relates to stock market investing now doesn't it?

Keeping Greed out of Your Investing

We all have our own investment strategies, I'm not here to tell you what works best and what sucks wind, but one thing I do know, if your investing strategy involves greed you will probably 'lose' more often than you 'win'. It's certainly not always an easy thing, to keep greed out of your investments, especially when you're in a stock that's on a nice uphill ride. Any prudent investment approach should contain some form of an exit strategy, simply put how you plan on getting out of (selling) the stock you hold. This would be one way to avoid greed, have a set price at which you intend on selling the stock, walk away with the money in your pocket and move on to the next investment. Not always as easy as it sounds though is it? Prior to buying into a stock you should have some sort of idea at what price you would like to sell it, hopefully you don't have to hold it for 10 years in order for it to reach that price. Sometimes you buy into it and if you timed it just right, you start to see the price go up sooner rather than later. When you start counting the dollars you are making seems to be when the exit strategy flies out the window and greed comes creeping in. I mean, gee, who knew when you bought it that the stock was going to rise so high, so fast, why sell now when you could make so much more money? It would be downright silly to get out now when you could clearly make much more cash if you held on to it. Somewhere deep within your being, there should be something rejecting this argument, and reminding you of your exit strategy and how you've gone past the price you told yourself you were going to be out of that stock and onto the next one.

Take your profits when you can

Discipline is a big factor when investing in the stock market. By employing some self-discipline you can keep your head about your initial investment strategy and keep greed from banging down the door. If the stock you invested in has made a nice move, and you have made the money you hoped to make off of it, then get out of it while the getting is good. If it seems as though the price is going to continue to increase, then why not take out your original investment plus a small profit (if possible) and leave the rest. At least you wouldn't be losing any money by taking your profits when they are presented to you. You could have the best of both worlds if you chose to employ this strategy, you made your money (or at least didn't lose any) and if the stock goes to the moon you'll be laughing all the way to the bank, or at least to your next investment. The other option, let greed take the wheel, you could make way more money if you don't take any profits and let the whole thing ride up the hill. Sure, you could stand to make a lot more off of your investments and I'm sure many people do, but the problem with this approach, where is the top? And when it reaches the top is it going to stay there for a while or come crashing down at record speed? What if it reaches this peak while you're on vacation, or sick and can't get to your computer to make the all important trade? It's amazing how fast all those profits can disappear and you are no further ahead then when you first invested in the stock.

The main point to all this? Greed has a home and a mother, just like the ugly duckling, just perhaps not in stock market investing. Obviously, investment strategies vary from person to person, and if you find one that works, and greed is a big factor, well, kudos to you, personally, I've never gained off my greediness, it's always hurt me more than helped me. Anyways, now back to my point. No one can predict with 100% certainty (no one I've ever heard of anyways) what is going to happen with a particular stock or the stock market in general. If you are able to keep your head about your investments and keep greed out, you could stand to make some tidy profits so that you can keep investing, employing your investment strategy and hopefully making some decent money at the whole thing.

Branden Moskwa B.ASBE founding Parter,

4 thoughts on “Greed - The Ugly Duckling of Investing

  1. I can see it both ways - perhaps he's trying to protect against whipsaws and price gaps. Too, a stop could interfere with retracement patterns for those investors who have iron stomachs.

    Love the quote Vladamir, yet it's no more or less probable than what Branden wrote is it? :^D (Isn't the author LeFevre?)

    The criticisms have merit yet, for me, don't discount the value of the message. I suspect he was more focused on the topic of greed than on mechanics, so that's how I took it.

    As always, I enjoy and learn from the comments as much as the article.

  2. On a rising market, a cautious approach might be to protect the gains by placing a stop loss at a safe level below. As the stock rises then continue to raise the stop loss to keep protecting the higher gains. As long as there is not a huge bounce, this should keep one in play and when the run is over and you get taken out by the stop loss, you have likely maximized the run.

  3. What happened to the market adage "limit your losses and let your winners run"? Greed and fear are the generating energies of the stock market, but they need not be the controlling factor. Almost all online investment sites allow for a rolling Stop Loss to be placed so there is no need to take out profits. Brad's advice seems to me outdated and ill-suited to a modern investor. Perhaps widows, orphans and stock brokers are the natural target of this advicette.

  4. A lot of words, but not a single good solid idea. And here is my proof of cherrishing the solid risk management plan and greed.

    Quote from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (Jesse Livermore):
    "For instance, I had been bullish from the very start of a bull market, and I had backed my opinion by buying stocks. An advance followed, as I had clearly foreseen. So far, all very well. But what else did I do? Why, I listened to the elder statesmen and curbed my youthful impetuousness. I made up my mind to be wise carefully, conservatively. Everybody knew that the way to do that was to take profits and buy back your stocks on reactions. And that is precisely what I did, or rather what I tried to do; for I often took profits and waited for a reaction that never came. And I saw my stock go kitting up ten points more and I sitting there with my four-point profit safe in my conservative pocket. They say you never go broke taking profits. No, you don’t. But neither do you grow rich taking a four-point profit in a bull market."

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