Behavioural Finance and Common Investor Biases

Some of the biases we face as investors affect our decision-making. In this essay, we attempt to explain some of them and their impact on decision-making.

3 min read
As investors, we all strive to make informed decisions that will lead to the growth of our portfolios. However, even the most knowledgeable investors are not immune to biases that can compromise the quality of their investment decisions. Behavioural finance is a field of study that examines the psychological and emotional factors that influence financial behaviour. By understanding the most common biases and how they impact investment decisions, investors can use behavioural finance principles to overcome them and make better investment decisions.

Common Investor Biases

Overconfidence bias

This is the tendency to overestimate one's abilities, knowledge, and judgment. This can lead investors to believe that they have a better understanding of market trends and the potential of specific investments, causing them to make overly optimistic predictions.

Availability Bias

Availability bias occurs when investors base their investment decisions on the most easily available information. For example, if a stock has recently performed well, investors may be more likely to invest in it without conducting thorough research or considering alternative investments.

Anchoring Bias

Anchoring bias occurs when investors fixate on a specific piece of information, such as the initial price of a stock, and use it as a reference point when making investment decisions. This can lead to suboptimal investment decisions as investors may ignore other important factors that could affect the stock's performance.

Herding Bias

Herding bias refers to the tendency for investors to follow the crowd and make investment decisions based on what others are doing, rather than conducting their own independent research and analysis. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy as large groups of investors may drive prices higher or lower, regardless of the underlying value of the investment.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to seek out information that supports one's preconceived beliefs, while disregarding information that contradicts those beliefs. This can lead investors to overlook important information that could negatively impact their investment decisions.

Using Behavioral Finance to Overcome Biases

  1. Setting Investment Goals: The first step in overcoming biases is to have a clear understanding of your investment goals. This will give you a framework for making investment decisions and help you to stay focused on what's important.
  2. Developing an Investment Plan: Once you have a clear understanding of your investment goals, the next step is to develop a plan to achieve them. This plan should include a diversified portfolio, a timeline for reaching your goals, and a strategy for managing risk.
  3. Implementing an Investment Plan: Once you have a plan in place, the next step is to implement it. This may involve rebalancing your portfolio, adjusting your asset allocation, or making new investments.
  4. Monitoring and Reviewing Performance: Regularly monitoring and reviewing your investment portfolio is critical to ensuring that it is aligned with your investment goals and strategy. This will help you to identify any potential biases that may be affecting your investment decisions and make any necessary adjustments.
  5. Adapting to Changes: Finally, it's important to be flexible and adapt to changes in market conditions and your personal circumstances. This may involve adjusting your investment strategy, making new investments, or even selling positions that are no longer aligned with your goals.
Tips for Implementing Behavioral Finance

  1. Keep Emotions in Check: Emotions such as fear and greed can significantly impact investment decisions. By keeping your emotions in check, you can make more rational investment decisions aligned with your goals.
  2. Seek Diverse Opinions: Getting a second opinion can help you to avoid confirmation bias and get a more well-rounded view of potential investments.
  3. Keep a Long-Term Perspective: Investing is a long-term endeavour, and it's essential to consider this when making investment decisions. Avoid being swayed by short-term market fluctuations and instead focus on your long-term goals.
  4. Avoid Overthinking: It's easy to get bogged down by analysis paralysis and overthink investment decisions. Instead, make decisions based on reliable information and your investment plan.
  5. Stay Educated: Finally, it's important to stay educated about the latest trends in the markets and the principles of behavioural finance. This will help you to stay ahead of the curve and make informed investment decisions.

Behavioural finance provides a valuable framework for overcoming the biases that can compromise the quality of investment decisions. By setting clear investment goals, developing a plan, monitoring performance, and staying flexible, investors can use behavioural finance principles to make better investment decisions aligned with their goals and strategy. Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting, taking the time to understand and implement behavioural finance principles can help you to achieve your financial goals and make the most of your investment portfolio.

© Figg Africa 2022. All right reserved