Sunday, November 21, 2010

Life through the Lens of Wall Street (Behavioral Finance)

As mentioned in "What is Understand, Survive and Thrive," one should utilize financial market's behavioral analysis to improve his daily decision making process and to better understand the concept of life. Although it is a very demanding journey, it is a journey worth taking.

Recent confusing stock market activity: inconclusive patterns and indecisive indicators (please refer to stock market analysis for Nov 20, 2010), very closely resembles our daily life. Every day we face various choices and make numerous decisions. Each decision is like a gamble, because alongside the possibility of being successful, it always entails the inherent risk of failure.  

The word "possibility" is the key over here because any and/or every decision can either backfire or be immensely successful. For example, a person who leaves his job to start his own business with the hope of making money, might either be very successful or might lose everything in life. In real life, out of multiple new ventures only a handful businessmen, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates succeed.  On the other hand, thousands who are left behind, either lose their jobs, life-savings, family life or all of them. This point brings us across the concept of "Gambler's Ruin Problem" in probability theory, where a person might become infinitely rich, go broke or just walk randomly.

This fact of life forced many philosophers to come up with the notion of luck i.e. meeting the right person, at the right place, at the right time. In this regard, many successful investors might argue that luck favors the brave - a person who follows investing rules and manages risk. However, not every rule abiding trader thrives in the financial world, as it is rightly said on the Wall Street, "A trader is as good as his last trade."

In short, like investing, life is very complicated and needs careful analysis. Therefore in my opinion, one should always calculate risks associated with different life related decisions. Furthermore, after achieving success one should always be humble, ready to give back, share his knowledge and do not boast about his success. And one should always remember that no matter how successful he is, these successes can always prove to be fleeting. The rise and fall of Mr. Durrant, founder of General Motors or the great Steve Jobs - from being the father of Apple PC to being kicked out of his own company - are some of the best examples in this regard.

A great philosopher, sage and scholar - Hazrat Ali A.S. - once defined this world in the following words
"Be most wary and cautious of this vicious world at times when it allures and pleases you the most because it is an old trick of this world that when a man is most happy with pleasure of owning and possessing it, it suddenly deserts him and when a man is most confident of its protection, help and love, it certainly forsakes him."

When one analyzes this proverb in the broader scheme of the worldly life, it feels so true!!!

I will look forward to reading your replies and interaction on this interesting topic.

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