In the world of Major League Baseball, a perfect game is a rare and remarkable achievement. It’s a feat that requires a pitcher to retire all 27 opposing batters without allowing a single one to reach base. This has only happened 24 times in the history of Major League Baseball, which spans over 140 years and includes more than 235,000 games. The most recent perfect game was pitched by Domingo German of the New York Yankees against the Oakland Athletics on June 28th. He allowed no hits, no walks, and no baserunners on 99 pitches in an 11-0 win.1
In the “game” of investing, the equivalent of a perfect game would be creating the perfect portfolio. This is a challenge that many investors strive for, but it’s not easy. In fact, it is likely impossible. It is, however, a worthy goal to the extent that it involves making well-informed decisions to optimize returns while minimizing risks, selecting the right mix of investments, diversifying across various asset classes, and adapting to ever-changing market conditions.2 But when it comes to investing for the long-term, remember the old adage: “perfect is the enemy of good.”
Total Control? Not So Fast
Just as a pitcher must analyze the strengths and weaknesses of opposing batters, an investor needs to assess the potential risks and rewards of different investment opportunities. Both pursuits involve dealing with uncertainty and external factors beyond their control. In baseball, a perfect game can be ruined by a lucky hit, a fielding error, or a even a close and controversial call by an umpire. Similarly, an investor’s portfolio can be impacted by unexpected economic events, market volatility, or geopolitical upheavals.
Both a pitcher and an investor need to have a deep understanding of their craft to succeed. A pitcher studies the opposing team’s lineup, analyzes their tendencies, and formulates a game plan. They must execute pitches flawlessly and adjust their strategy as the game progresses. Similarly, an investor must conduct thorough research, analyze financial statements, evaluate market trends, and develop an investment strategy that aligns with their goals and risk tolerance. If you imagine retirement years starting in one’s early sixties, think of the pitcher going into the seventh inning. There’s still a lot of game to go, and the pressure is mounting to do everything right.
Staying in The Game
Perfection is, of course, elusive in both baseball and investing. Even the most dominant pitchers can have bad days or, during their rare gems when they’re flirting with history, face exceptional hitters who can spoil their bid for a perfect game. It’s the same way with even the most well-crafted portfolios, which can be impacted by unforeseen events or market downturns. For an investor, the heat of market volatility tricks many into making quick decisions that can almost cost them their retirement game. Thinking and investing based on a long-term approach might not lead to perfection, but it’s a much safer strategy to at least stay in the game.
Despite these challenges, the pursuit of perfection is valuable in itself. Pitchers who come close to throwing a perfect game can still achieve greatness and leave a lasting impact on their sport. Similarly, investors who diligently construct and manage their portfolios, often with the help of their financial advisor, can affect their chances of enjoying significant financial success and, hopefully, achieving their long-term objectives.
When it comes to building your portfolio, remember that perfection is subjective and only a high-bar goal. The true measure of your “perfect” portfolio lies in its ability to help you achieve your personal goals. Whether you’re aiming to fund higher education, retire comfortably, start a business, or support charitable causes, your portfolio should serve as a catalyst for your personal dreams.
The Takeaway: Coaching Counts
There’s nothing wrong with falling short of a perfect game. After all, throwing a no-hitter or even a shutout are still major accomplishments. And behind the scenes of all great careers: experienced coaching that can elevate one’s strengths and minimize weaknesses.
When it comes to investing, retirement planning, and other financial areas, it might be helpful to think of a financial advisor as your coach. They can provide guidance and support as you navigate the complexities of investing and work towards achieving your financial goals. Just like a baseball coach helps their pitcher strategize for each game and for a successful career, your financial advisor can help you develop an investment strategy that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. So, while there’s actually no such thing as a perfect game in investing, there really is the more familiar goal of having a successful financial career. For that, it’s good to seek all the help you can get!
2 The Quest for Perfection: Baseball and Investing - A Major League pitcher’s perfect game and an investor’s perfect portfolio; FMeX
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