One Big Lesson from the Wolf of Wall Street!!

A few days back, I saw the Hollywood flick Wolf Of Wall Street. And since I am no pro in writing movie reviews, I decided to share with you guys what I believed was the most important thought of the movie for a long term investor.

wolf of wall street
Still from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)


Though the movie is all about brokers and short term trading, it had a dialogue which should be recited by a long term investor everyday!

By the way, if you haven’t, then please go and watch this movie. It is almost three hours long, but totally worth it. And rest assured, you will not get bored for even a moment.

The following statement was made by the character of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo Dicaprio to a Swiss guy while discussing laws of banking:

“I’m a student of history, and I’m a firm believer that he who doesn’t study the mistakes of the past is doomed to repeat them.”

So the thought which I am referring to is:

Learn From The Past

And if you think deeply, this statement by Jordan Belfort is indeed a powerful one. And it is not only applicable to stock markets, but to other areas of life too. Studying past events tells you why some people succeeded while other failed.

For example, unless and until you are aware of the carnage of 2008-2009, you will never be ready to face the next market crash. And unless and until you know that there is a definite relation between market P/E multiples and long term returns, you will not be able to take advantage of such situations.

Just imagine the money made by people who invested in 2009. Ten times….Fifteen times their initial investment in next 2-3 years!! And that too by investing in safe and stable businesses!

And these were no extra ordinary people. These were normal people who were aware of the fact that such opportunities come once or twice in a lifetime and hence, took bigger bets which eventually paid off.

And for those who thought that this movie was a work of fiction, please be informed that it is not. There was a con-man named Jordan Belfort and I would advise you to read more about the real Jordan Belfort here.

Jordan Belfort Wolf of Wall Street
The Real Life Wolf of Wall Street 

And don’t forget to watch the movie and share your thoughts.

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Long Term Investing Vs Short Term Trading

Do you believe in long term investing? Or is it that you do not believe in short term trading? 
 
Irrespective of what you and I believe in, the fact remains that it’s a big mistake to simply ignore short-term(ism). Short term trading can deliver quick returns. Period. But are these (eye-popping) short-term performances sustainable over long term? And why is it that after every crash (2000, 2008, etc), it is the traders who are wiped off and it is the long term investors who are not? There must be some reasons why traders have such high (market) mortality rates?
Lets look at it from another perspective. When we talk about investing or trading, what we are indirectly referring to are the time horizons. Now these time horizons are relative. Your long term can be short term for someone else. One of my close relatives has been investing for last 30 years. According to him, anything less than 10 years is short term!! And just one of the stocks in his portfolio happens to be HUL (Hindustan Unilever Ltd). After adjusting for bonuses, splits and dividend re-investments, his average price per share works out to be Rs 2.00/- (No…it’s not a typo); and HUL is currently trading at around Rs 570. Add to it the current annual dividend of Rs 7.50 per share. i.e. He has a capital appreciation of 28,400% and earns 375% (on his original investment) in form of dividends every year. Now can a trader match that? That too, year after year? One may argue that one can. But figures like 28,400% & 375% make it really hard for traders to challenge this long term investor’s approach of terming anything less than 10 years as short term. 🙂
Now these time horizon also depends on one’s risk appetite. It is a known fact that in short term, markets are volatile i.e. risky. So if one cannot take much risk, then he is not suited for short term trading. He is better off investing for long term by picking up good, solid companies or investing systematically in mutual funds. The longer you have to invest your money, the bigger risks you can take. If you need money in next few years, you should take a more conservative approach and put it in banks or other safer investment products like Bonds, RDs, FDs, etc.
For an average investor like you and me, anything more than 5 years can be termed as long term. Five years is a long enough time to assess whether a company is doing good or not. I personally define my long term as more than 10 years. What about you?
 
Disclosure: No positions in shares of companies mentioned above.