Investing Mistakes to Avoid


Investing can be a complex and challenging journey, even for the most seasoned investors. Mistakes are inevitable, but they also serve as valuable lessons, offering insights that can help build more resilient investment portfolios. The CFA Institute has highlighted the top 20 investment mistakes that individuals should be aware of to navigate this journey more effectively. Here’s a closer look at these common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

  1. Expecting Too Much

Setting realistic return expectations is crucial. This helps maintain a long-term perspective and prevents emotional decision-making.

  1. No Investment Goals

Investors often get caught up in short-term trends or fads instead of focusing on their long-term objectives.

  1. Not Diversifying

A well-diversified portfolio can prevent any single stock from significantly impacting its overall value.

  1. Focusing on the Short Term

Short-term thinking can lead to second-guessing and impulsive decisions, straying from the initial strategy.

  1. Buying High and Selling Low

Emotional responses to market fluctuations often lead to this counterproductive behaviour.

  1. Trading Too Much

Frequent trading can lead to underperformance. A study in The Journal of Finance found that active traders lagged behind the U.S. stock market average by 6.5% annually.

  1. Paying Too Much in Fees

High fees can significantly erode investment returns over time.

  1. Focusing Too Much on Taxes

While tax strategies like loss harvesting are beneficial, decisions should not be based solely on tax implications.

  1. Not Reviewing Investments Regularly

Regular portfolio reviews are essential to ensure alignment with your goals and to rebalance as needed.

  1. Misunderstanding Risk

Balancing risk is key; too much may be uncomfortable, while too little could lead to inadequate returns.

  1. Not Knowing Your Performance

Tracking your investment performance, considering fees and inflation, is vital to assess whether you are meeting your goals.

  1. Reacting to the Media

Avoid making decisions based on short-term media reports; focus on your long-term strategy.

  1. Forgetting About Inflation

Inflation, which has historically averaged around 4% annually, can significantly reduce your purchasing power over time.

  1. Trying to Time the Market

Market timing is challenging and often less effective than remaining invested over the long term.

  1. Not Doing Due Diligence

Always verify the credentials of financial advisors, for instance, through resources like BrokerCheck.

  1. Working With the Wrong Advisor

Take the time to find an advisor whose approach aligns with your investment goals.

  1. Investing With Emotions

Stay rational and avoid making decisions based on emotional reactions to market changes.

  1. Chasing Yield

High-yield investments are often riskier; assess them in the context of your risk tolerance.

  1. Neglecting to Start Early

Starting to invest early can have a substantial impact on the eventual size of your portfolio due to compounding.

  1. Not Controlling What You Can

Focus on consistent contributions over time, rather than trying to predict market movements.

One notable point is the significance of diversification. A study suggests that holding about 15 stocks in a large-cap portfolio is optimal for balancing return and risk. For small-cap portfolios, this number increases to 26. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and seeking tailored financial advice is often beneficial.

Additionally, avoid the trap of excessive trading. Each trade incurs fees, which can cumulatively dampen your portfolio’s performance. Regularly monitoring your investments is also crucial, especially in changing market conditions. This ensures your investments align with your goals and accounts for external factors like inflation and changing personal circumstances.

In conclusion, by being aware of these common investment mistakes and actively working to avoid them, investors can significantly enhance their chances of achieving their financial goals. Remember, informed decisions and a disciplined approach are key to successful investing.


A recent study from Investment Planning Council (IPC) found that almost 75% of Canadians believe they need financial planning advice to be successful in the future. The appreciation for planners is on the rise amid the uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are individuals leaning more on their planners, but they believe the fees they are paying are worth it.

Some of the survey’s findings included:

  • Participants said they have increased their communication with their planners since the pandemic started.
  • 93% said it was important to work with an advisor who is familiar with their personal needs
  • 75% who work with an advisor were prepared for retirement

 Chris Reynolds, the CEO of IPC noted in the report that “people want someone who knows them, their family, their unique situation and what they want to accomplish”. It is clear that “this cannot be solved by a robo-advisor or some algorithm”.

Other reports are showing similar findings, where the willingness to pay for advice has been growing and the desire of individuals to increase the amount of planning advice they are receiving.

Encouraged by the positive sentiment, planners are taking advantage to develop and deepen long-term, trusted relationships with clients that prove their worth, especially when compared to robo-advisors and other DIY investing options. Planners should look for opportunities to expand the role of truly comprehensive financial advice relationships. Planners have never been more valuable than in the midst of COVID-19, and individuals are realizing that value goes beyond simply selecting and managing investments.

 Whether it’s the technology crash of the early 2000’s or the 2008 global financial crisis, markets at times can get very volatile as they did this year with COVID. Even though the event is different, the markets reaction isn’t, and this is where a planner can offer tremendous value.