Ian Forrest, one of our Investment Research Analysts talks about how he got an interest for the world of investing.
Meet the team: Ian Forrest
My interest in the stock market began at the tender age of 13 when I was casually flicking through The Times one day and came across the pages showing company share prices. I was probably looking for the sports section at the time but was well aware that my Post Office investment account was paying me a miserable amount of interest once a year. So the revelation there were investments which moved on a daily basis was immediately appealing.
Since then, investing has become important to me for a number of reasons, not just to build up a valuable nest egg for future needs, but also because it means I’m participating in the system and enjoying the rights and rewards that come with that. A bit like voting in elections, I strongly believe it’s important that as many people as possible are actively involved in owning shares.
It’s not all serious stuff though; investing can be fun as well. My grandfather enjoyed meeting stockbroker friends for lunch to discuss stocks as well as the latest rugby results, and I spent several happy years as a member of a friendly investment club where the social aspect was every bit as important as debating the merits of potential additions to the portfolio.
My interest in investing has certainly been enhanced by doing a variety of jobs during my career. I’ve worked in financial journalism and business research, as well as tracking and analysing directors’ share dealings, before I began to manage client portfolios and advise private investors on equities. All of that has given me a wealth of different perspectives on how the City operates and enables me to make better decisions and judgements now.
In terms of my own personal investments, I’m now looking mainly for long term capital growth and I don’t need any income from my investments. I can still afford to take a few risks, but not as many as when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. As I move into my 50’s I’ll need to gradually reduce my exposure to shares and shift into lower risk assets, such as bonds and gilts.
As someone who’s been afflicted for many years with a fondness for the game of golf, I’m very conscious it teaches players both patience and self-discipline, which are also useful traits for investors. Just as you get bad bounces and difficult lies in golf, you also find companies suffer unexpected setbacks and are hit by unpredictable external issues. Being able to remain calm, continue to think rationally and not overreact to these events are the keys to success, whether on the course or when managing investments.
As I’m generally a long term investor, my approach to stock picking is based on fundamentals, which means I focus on the long term trends affecting different sectors and their future prospects, rather than dwelling on share price charts or the last quarterly figures. That mirrors the approach taken by most of the big institutional investors who dominate the market. Their decisions are based very much on forecasts of what they expect to happen three, four, five years out and further.
While investing in companies does mean doing a bit more research into the business and the sector, you don’t need to be a whizz with spreadsheets to get a reasonable understanding. It’s important to keep up to date with how your stocks are performing, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of watching them constantly and panicking if they drop a few percentage points.
That’s where the self-discipline kicks in and I try to restrict myself to a quick catch-up every few months. Of course, as an investor I don’t always get it right and the hardest thing to do is accept an investment has not worked out and you need to cut your losses and move on.
As in golf, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it’s important to be able to accept the reality of the situation and play the ball as it lies.
All information given including prices, yields and our opinion is correct at the time of publication. Our opinions on investments can change at any time and for our latest view please go to www.share.com. To understand how our Investment research team arrive at their views please read our Investment Research Policy.