Here’s part of a conversation I had last weekend with a friend who wanted me to help him out with his loss-making stocks. Let’s call him Rohan.
Me: Why are you so depressed?
Rohan: I hate my stocks.
Me: Oh, another member of the pretty big ‘I hate my stocks’ club?
Rohan: I’m sick of looking at my stocks. And given that the markets are falling, I haven’t looked at my portfolio for days!
Me: What stocks do you own at the moment?
Rohan: Don’t want to show.
Me: C’mon, let’s see what you own and where you stand as of now.
Rohan: Can’t we do something else?
Me: Like what?
Rohan: Like, not see my portfolio? As I said, I have not seen it myself for the past many days. It makes me sick!
Me: We could, but seeing that you want to get rid of your losers, it’s a good idea to look at those losers, know where you’re at before we start any kind of discussion on how to make things better.
Rohan: Okay, have a look at my stocks, but don’t tell me.
Me: Tell you what?
Rohan: How much losses I’m sitting at as of now.
Me: But your loss is your loss. Not knowing won’t turn them to profits!
Rohan: I don’t want to know. It will depress me.
Me: Or maybe it will help you step into reality?
Rohan: I’d really rather not.
Me: I know but let’s do it anyway.
Rohan: I’ll cry.
Rohan was totally serious.
Over the years, I have been privy to some very weird thinking, habits and behaviour around losing stocks and people who hold such stocks in their portfolios.
I’ve seen people who would check the stock prices up to fifty times a day expecting them to rise the ‘next’ time. Literally!
People who would buy and sell the same stocks repeatedly hoping to see a higher price next time around.
People who would average bad stocks to ‘reduce’ their losses.
In crashing markets, I’ve seen people who would only look at websites that showed them stock quotes that were delayed by 15 minutes, because ‘live’ quotes would’ve gotten even lower. (Yes, that’s ridiculous yet true!)
People who would practice superstition (like seeing their portfolios only after 12 PM) wishing that this would work and their falling stocks would rise!
People who would remove (and intentionally) those stocks from their portfolio trackers that were incurring them the biggest losses.
People who would get angry with me when I asked them to sell their bad stocks at deep losses.
People who wanted solutions from me but would not let me see their portfolios.
By the way, Rohan still doesn’t know how much losses he’s incurring on his stocks. Yet he’s waiting for me to help him as his last night call suggested.
Oh God! Why do we make simple things complex?
I don’t have the answer. Can you help?