Strategic Wealth Partners was acquired by Kovitz Investment Group Partners, LLC ("Kovitz"), a registered investment adviser with the SEC on May 1, 2024. Strategic Wealth Partners is now a division of Kovitz and its registered investment adviser. Materials created prior to this date were created by Strategic Wealth Partners and are accurate as of the time of publishing.

The Illusion of Choice

I recently finished a great book by Trevor Moawad titled It Takes What It Takes. Trevor has coached myriad successful individuals – from Navy SEALs to CEOs to elite athletes – so I was interested in his philosophy and approach. Several messages resonated and could be broadly applied, but the most profound was the section dedicated to “the illusion of choice.”

Trevor tells a story about his work with professional basketball legend Vince Carter. Vince was the only player in NBA history to play 22 seasons and in four different decades. That kind of longevity can only be the product of great choices. Vince stretched more, drank more water, worked out after games, avoided fried foods…the list goes on. Vince built his career making choices and being disciplined, which led to behaviors that helped him reach his goal: to keep performing at a high level in the NBA for as long as possible. It seems unlikely that Vince could have sustained his long and successful career had he done everything he wanted to do; he did what was required.

In other words, it takes what it takes, and choice is merely an illusion. As an advisor, my mind went to how this insight could be applied to wealth management. What follows are my thoughts.

There are a handful of foundational pieces that are the common denominator to good planning and investing, including: establishing (and sticking to) a well-designed financial plan, asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing. While the financial industry inundates people with the illusion of choice (investment A vs. B, the next hot trend, market timing, etc.), the reality is we don’t have many choices – it takes what it takes.

To that point, let’s dig a little deeper on the topic of rebalancing, which is timely given the impressive and continued rise of the stock market.

Rebalancing is a bit of a mind twist because it inevitably feels like the wrong thing to do at the moment – trimming investments that have appreciated and adding to investments that have underperformed. Essentially, rebalancing serves as a governor for risk management.

The point of thoughtfully allocating money to different asset classes and investments is to create a risk-return profile that balances your objectives and comfort level. Deviating from that risk-return profile – the illusion of choice – can be a behavioral risk if you’re not aware of how it can change the composition of your portfolio.

Rebalancing is a decision we don’t want to overthink. Unfortunately, perfection will never be achieved and therefore should not be the goal. By continuously monitoring a portfolio relative to asset allocation targets and employing a disciplined rebalancing approach, emotion and choice can be removed from the decision-making process.

In the end, good choices can lead to good behaviors, and good behaviors tend to enhance the odds of successful outcomes. By contrast, bad decisions are the lifeblood of the average, and fear and greed can encourage sub-optimal decisions when it comes to wealth management. Choice is the ultimate and fiercest competitor we face. And while good outcomes are never guaranteed, disciplined decision-making can help improve our odds of success.

As always, please contact your advisor if you’d like to discuss your situation in more detail.

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