Psychology and Investing: Anchoring

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When estimating the unknown, we cleave to what we know.

Investors often fall prey to anchoring.

They get anchored on their own estimates of a company’s earnings, or on last year’s earnings.

For investors, anchoring behaviour manifests itself in placing undue emphasis on recent performance since this may be what instigated the investment decision in the first place.

When an investment is lagging, we may hold on to it because we cling to the price we paid for it, or its strong performance just before its decline, in an effort to “break even” or get back to what we paid for it.

We may cling to sub-par companies for years, rather than dumping them and getting on with our investment life.

It is costly to hold on to losers, though, and we may miss out on putting those invested funds to better use.

Overcoming Anchoring

It may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions about your stocks:

Would I buy this investment again?

And if not, why do I continue to own it?

Truthfully answering these questions can help you severe the anchors that may be a drag on your rational decision making.

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