The classic, though now dated, ‘right answer’ to the job interview question, “what is your biggest weakness?” is to say that you are a perfectionist. The thinly-veiled subtext is that perfectionism is actually a strength, though perhaps one that has been taken a bit too far: “I’m just so focused on making sure I get everything right all the time that sometimes I work too hard (sigh).”
Of course, attempting to achieve the unachievable can lead to harmful outcomes for you and those around you. But there is more to it than that. The underlying drivers of perfectionism affect pretty much everyone and can interfere with your ability to make rational decisions. In investing, where so much is about maintaining Spock-like rationality, this is probably one of the most common and important psychological issues investors face.
The stock market seems to be brimming with optimism at the moment. After the assassination of Iranian bad dude Qasem Soleimani led to an extremely short-lived panic on Monday (which only seemed to affect the US market after hours), the markets are buoyant now that further escalation is looking less likely. At the moment I’d guess that we’re probably in for another good year with the likely re-election of Trump and a likely improvement in global economic growth in the horizon.
The much hoped-for Santa Rally did indeed materialise, to round off a decent final quarter of a decent 2019. This is especially welcome following a difficult 2018 for equities. I’m fairly happy with my portfolio’s performance of 33.5%, though this has been achieved in the context of strong performances from the market as a whole. The FTSE 100 was up 12.1%, the FTSE 250 up 24%, the S&P 500 up 32% and the Stoxx Europe 600 is up 23%.