At the business college that bears his name, financier and DePaul University alumnus Richard H. Driehaus shares with students one mantra for investment success: do things differently. Driehaus gave a lecture at DePaul this spring that offered students the following alternative advice to nine popular investment paradigms:
1. Conventional advice: Buy low and sell high.
Driehaus advice: Buy high and sell even higher. "You want to buy stocks that have already had good moves and are doing well rather than take the risk on investing in a stock that is already in decline and hoping it goes up."
2. Conventional advice: Just buy stocks of good companies and hold them so you don't have to pay attention.
Driehaus advice: Buy good stocks and hold them, but monitor daily and get rid of things if there are bad changes.
3. Conventional advice: Don't try to hit home runs; you make the most money buying singles.
Driehaus advice: No, you make the most on home runs—but you also need discipline.
4. Conventional advice: A high turnover strategy is risky.
Driehaus advice: It reduces risk if you're taking a series of small losses to avoid one big loss.
5. Conventional advice: Your investment process needs to be systematic.
Driehaus advice: True, investing requires discipline, but your process must be flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions. “Don't invest because of what you think should be happening—invest based on what actually is happening in the market."
6. Conventional advice: You must have a value-based process and uniform evaluation for all of your picks.
Driehaus advice: "The world is not that precise. I'm convinced there is no universal valuation process."
7. Conventional advice: Buy good research conducted by the best analysts.
Driehaus advice: He relies on the news and company reports to keep up to date
8. Conventional advice: The best measure of investment risk is volatility.
Driehaus advice: Not exactly. Volatility is only a risk for the short term, and much of discussing investment requires looking at long-term risk. What has the least short-term volatility may actually be the most long-term risk, so you have to watch out.
9. Conventional advice: It's risky to give you money to a star manager and safer to have it in a diversified group.
Driehaus advice: No, it's still smarter to go with a talented individual who really knows the market.
Read more about the course, Practical Investing: How to Make Money and Enjoy Doing It”, where Driehaus lectured.