I got into cycling about a year ago. I’ve been riding every week and have completed a 100km event, but I still know almost nothing about bikes.
“Proper” cyclists talk in a practically foreign language about gear ratios, chainset setup and output wattage. But to enjoy the benefits of cycling, you just need to point it in the right direction and turn the pedals – then train yourself to go gradually faster and further over time.
Investing is no different. “Proper” investors talk in a practically foreign language about PEG ratios, support/resistance levels and precise allocations between assets. But to enjoy the benefits of investing, you just need to keep putting money into a diversified product and wait.
It’s intimidating to be a newcomer to either of these fields – or countless others – because you assume that if everyone is talking about these highly complex and specialist things, they must be important.
But here’s the secret: most of the people writing about any topic are, by definition, true enthusiasts. They love the extreme detail: there wouldn’t be much for cyclists to talk about if all they said was “I pointed my bike in such-and-such a direction and turned the pedals for a couple of hours last weekend”.
Does any of the detail make a difference? Eventually, yes. If you’re a Tour de France contender, making a minor adjustment to add 1% to the efficiency of your pedal stroke could give you the edge you need to win. Similarly for investors, little tweaks to your asset allocation might give you a portfolio that performs a bit better in good years and suffers a little less in bad ones.
But until you get to a pretty advanced level, it doesn’t mean anything. And it’s actively unhelpful if it intimidates you and stops you from doing the basics that make 99% of the difference: consistently turning the pedals, literally or metaphorically.