Half of investors admit to making impulsive, emotional decisions, and many go on to regret it

15th February 2022
Close up of a man looking through some paperwork

While investment decisions should be based on facts, many investors find their decisions are sometimes influenced by emotions. Whether you’re excited about an investment opportunity, or worried about market volatility, keeping emotions in check can help you make better investment decisions.

According to research from Barclays, half of investors admit to making impulsive decisions based on their emotions. While these decisions can seem right at the time, 67% of investors said they go on to regret their choice. Worries during short-term market volatility are often associated with making knee-jerk decisions. If you see the value of your investments fall, it’s natural to want to make changes. However, the study found that other emotions play a role in impulsive investment decisions, including:

  • Excitement (34%)
  • Impatience (21%)
  • Fear (16%)

Letting emotions play a significant role in your decisions can mean you make choices that you wouldn’t normally or that don’t fit into your financial plan.

What can you do to reduce impulsive investment decisions?

While you can’t remove the emotions you feel when investing, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of you making impulsive decisions and recognise when emotions are affecting your thought process.

1. Keep in mind where you get information from

In modern life, you’re surrounded by news and information that could affect how you view your investments. It’s important to keep in mind how reliable the information is and how it relates to your circumstances.

When asked what influenced their investment decisions, 32% of respondents said “social media” and 31% said “friends”. While both of these can be useful sources of information, they can also lead to you making decisions that aren’t right for you. Such information may be inaccurate or biased. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when investing either. So, while a friend may have made an investment decision that’s right for them, it doesn’t automatically mean it makes sense for you too.

Taking a step back before you make an investment decision can help you review what it’s based on and how reliable the source is.

2. Have faith in your investment plan

Almost a third (30%) of investors said they’d made an impulsive investment decision due to the “fear of missing out” (FOMO). If you’ve heard of a great investment opportunity, it can be tempting to invest yourself. While some of these may be a good option for you, it’s important not to be impulsive and to weigh them up carefully. Having confidence in your financial plan can help you look at opportunities objectively and see how they’ll fit into your long-term goals.

3. Keep your long-term goals in mind

Investing can involve a lot of ups and downs. That’s why a long-term plan is important. Ideally, you should invest with a minimum time frame of five years with an investment strategy that reflects this. However, it can still be easy to let short-term market movements affect your decisions and how confident you feel about the decisions you’ve made.

The survey found that 6 in 10 investors feel like they need to constantly monitor their investments. Keeping an eye on performance can ease feelings of anxiety you may have if investments have increased in value or remained stable. However, it can also mean you’re more prone to reacting to short-term fluctuations in the market. While investment values may fall, historically, markets have recovered.

While guarantees can’t be made when investing, it’s important to review your investments with a long-term outlook. Reacting to short-term falls could mean you miss out on long-term gains and harm your overall plan. That’s not to say that you should never make changes to your investment portfolio, but, rather, these decisions should be based on information rather than emotions.

Working with a financial planner can help give you confidence in your financial plan. It also means you have someone to talk to if you’re thinking about making changes to your investment strategy, whether based on emotions or other factors. If you’d like to discuss your investments and how they can help you achieve your aspirations, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.