This article, by Justin Baiocchi, was originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 25 April 2015.
This week my wife and I had to face the reality that our two year-old daughter is smarter than us. And not just smarter, but more cunning too. It happened during an everyday situation – it was breakfast time and we were sitting with the kids, supervising them as they ate breakfast (soft-boiled eggs and toast is the current craze – it’s been that way for nearly two months and will probably be so for a few more until some inexplicable event causes both of them to declare that never again will another soft-boiled egg pass their lips). Kate began hitting the table with her hands, an act which was bound to create a mess, so I gently admonished her and encouraged her to go back to eating breakfast. She obviously interpreted this as an act of weakness on my part, for she started hitting me on the arm instead. Keeping my cool, I said to her “Please don’t hit me Kate, I would much rather you gave me a cuddle”, whereupon she reached her arms out to pull me in for a big hug. As I leant gratefully forward, she wrapped her little arm around my neck, pulled me in tight for a cuddle and with her free hand whacked me on the side of my head with as much force as she could muster. Needless to say, I was a little surprised.
It was one of those moments where as a parent, you try your hardest to appear annoyed, but have trouble fighting back the laughter. Clearly that whole ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look was not to be believed. In some ways, Kate’s behaviour is not unlike the experience some investors have when dealing with the stock market. It’s easy to become swayed by the meaningless superficialities of a potential investment: you may like their flashy website; you may enjoy using their products; you might be influenced by the snappy advertising campaign on TV or you might know somebody who knows somebody who thinks that you can’t go wrong by putting your hard-earned savings into the company. From the outside, everything may wonderful, but really, it’s what goes on inside the company about which you should be most concerned. And unfortunately, short of knowing the CEO’s brother, the only way you are going to find out is by analysing the company’s financial reports. That’s the 200 page document they send you once a year which usually goes straight in the recycling bin. This year, try and avoid the smack on the head by spending some time reading through the report – because when it comes to money, it’s no laughing matter.