Throw it away Points of Interest – Spring 2016

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Look at that swing

This article, by Justin Baiocchi, was originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 21 May 2016.

There’s no doubt that every job has both its advantages and disadvantages. If you work for an airline in any capacity, you probably get as many cheap flights (good) and small packets of peanuts as you can bear (bad). Work at Bunnings for example, and you probably own a small fortune’s worth of power tools (which is good) that you never use (which is bad). My father’s chosen career was a professional golfer, which had the advantage of ensuring that we were never short of golf clubs to choose from (at one point I remember counting 50 sets of clubs stashed in various spots around the house), but the downside of having a professional golfer in the family was that we spent a lot of time at golf courses. If you liked golf that wasn’t too bad, but if you thought there were better things to be doing than spending 12 hours a day at the course, you were in trouble.

One benefit of hanging around so many golf courses however, was that you got see how differently people played golf, even the professionals. No golf swing is exactly the same, generally a result of the person’s body shape, height and coaching (or lack thereof). Some golf swings are beautiful to watch – smooth, balanced and rhythmical, think Tom Watson or Adam Scott here. Others are decidedly ugly and look like the golfer is trying to bash in a snake’s head with a shovel – I don’t want to be mean, but Jim Furyk and Craig Parry probably fall into this category. The thing is though, you don’t need the most beautiful golf swing to be a successful golfer. Jim Furyk, for example, has won 27 golf tournaments, including the US Open. Craig Parry has won 23 times and both golfers have made a pretty good living from golf (US tour earnings alone of $65 million and $8 million respectively).

Just like a golfer’s swing, in investing there is no one right or wrong approach. Everybody has their own needs, fears, feelings and objectives – there’s no single solution which perfectly covers every situation. For some people the stock market is a risky and dangerous place they need not enter; for others, an ‘investment’ in a fiery thoroughbred race horse is just perfect. The point is, your approach to your finances and the right solution for you is going to be different from everybody else. Just like golf, don’t worry about how it ‘looks’, rather judge your investment approach by its results.