'A fool's game': Investment company salesman says trying to time the market was a lesson learned

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© Supplied. Mint Asset Management’s David Boyle says it’s foolish to try to time the market. © Provided by Newshub

“Keep investing through good and bad markets. 

“Trying to time the market is a fool’s game. I can speak from experience regarding both.

“Paying yourself first and sticking to long-term goals is key, along with getting the mix of investments right for your circumstances.”

David Boyle, head of sales and marketing, Mint Asset Management.

Money. It’s the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?

‘Me and My Money’ is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make.  

Having worked in finance through the 1987 sharemarket crash, the year 2000 “tech wreck”, the 2007 and 2008 credit crisis, and COVID-19, David Boyle, head of sales and marketing at Mint Asset Management says a golden rule of investing is not to try to time the market.

He started saving as a 12-year-old “milk boy”, religiously putting away a percentage of his pay.  Seeing the power of time and compound interest making savings grow has been the most rewarding, he says.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

I’ve always been a saver. 

My Dad owned a milk run. I started as a milk boy when I was around 12 years old and had to get up at 4.30am most mornings.

When I received my first pay packet, Mum opened a bank account for me and told me to put half into the account and keep half for my pocket money. 

At the time, I must admit I wasn’t happy about it. But I quickly learned about compound interest, and got a lot of satisfaction from seeing my savings grow.  

I continued the same approach when I started my career at the Post Office Savings Bank. 

This (along with a series of second jobs), got me into my first home at 22 – something I’m still pretty proud of.

2. What’s been your biggest financial lesson? 

Keep investing through good and bad markets. 

Trying to time the market is a fool’s game. I can speak from experience regarding both.

Paying yourself first and sticking to long-term goals is key, along with getting the mix of investments right for your circumstances. 

Everyone should have a separate emergency fund. A savings buffer (normally three months’ wages or salary) is crucial for those unexpected events that life throws at us. 

Losing a job, the car breaking down or a health issue can really put pressure on family and financial wellbeing.

3. What was your last impulse or ‘fritter’ purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

A bluetooth speaker I bought six or so years ago. 

I thought it looked cool. The sales guy was excellent and at the time, I thought ‘I deserve this’.

As soon as I got it home, I realised it wasn’t that good (my kids also said it wasn’t which only made it worse)!

I was angry that I’d spent money on something I didn’t really need or want.

4. What’s your preferred form of investment and why?

I was pretty lucky that a number of companies I worked for offered employee superannuation schemes (essentially I’d put money in and my employer would add to my savings).  

I’m a strong supporter of KiwiSaver. For most New Zealanders, it’s the best way to get into the investment habit. 

I’ve been in KiwiSaver since its inception and it’s amazing how quickly it grows. I also invest in managed funds on a regular basis.  

Property has been good to me, but I’m mindful this is a difficult market to access for many at the moment.

A key investment principle I’ve always applied to my own financial wellbeing is spreading my eggs in many baskets. I think that is just as relevant today as it was when my Mum taught me the basics of money.

5. Why invest in shares over property?

Liquidity and diversification are the main reasons.

By putting money into different types of funds, managed investments allow people to dial their risk and return up or down. These funds invest in different assets (like shares, property and bonds) and allow access to money when needed.

Over a number of years, the property market has provided some pretty incredible results for those who can get into the market. But speaking from experience, there are periods of time when property values don’t go up.

Like any investment, property investment carries risk. Given some of the tax benefits have been taken away, the Government’s housing announcement may put property investment on a more level playing field.

At the moment for many younger New Zealanders, getting onto the property ladder is incredibly challenging. My fear is they won’t even try.   

This is where getting investment advice could be the best first step. It’s well worth people spending the time and money to build a plan that helps them achieve their goals.

6. A personal money habit you’re proud of?

Saving a percentage of my salary every payday and letting the power of time and compound do the rest. For me, this has been the most rewarding.  

According to Albert Einstein, ‘compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world’ – who’s going to argue with that?

Another is talking about money publicly to help Kiwis understand key principles and benefits.  As an industry we’re getting better at providing clearer information, but there’s still heaps of room for improvement. 

7. Does having more money increase happiness?

I thought it did. 

One of my main drivers in life was to be financially independent. To owe nothing, own my own house and give my children a good life, wonderful experiences and great education while having enough savings to enjoy a good retirement in my later years. I hated the idea of relying on others to help me financially. 

For many Kiwis, money is a constant worry every day: putting food on the table, paying rent, bills, holding down a job and bringing up families is just incredibly expensive and challenging.

Having enough money to cover those essentials brings relief more than happiness.  

However, there comes a time when having more money doesn’t make people that much happier. I know a lot of people who’ve sacrificed time with family and friends chasing the almighty dollar and prestige, only to end up with health issues and dysfunctional relationships. 

8. The best money advice someone’s ever given you?

A key principle for investing is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

My mum (who is 94) has always said, ‘if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything’ and she is bang on.

So getting the balance right is the most important thing. I say enjoy the journey, not the destination.

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.