Our 9 Biggest Investment Lessons

What's the most important money lesson you've ever learned? Our Morningstar Teams reflect on the money lessons they would have wanted their younger selves to know

Ruth Saldanha 9 September, 2020 | 11:28AM
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Old Time Classroom

Save Early, Save Often

Susan Dziubinski, Director of Content, Morningstar.com

In my job interview at Morningstar in 1991, I was asked what a mutual fund was. I didn’t know—I’d been an English major! Thankfully, I was hired anyway, but I had a lot to learn. Almost thirty years later, what’s the most important lesson I’ve learned about investing? That’s easy: Save early and often.

Morningstar has always offered employees access to a retirement plan and still wet behind my ears and decades from retirement, I diligently tucked away as much as I could each pay cheque – after all, my manager said that was the smart thing to do. She said that I should let compounding work for me.

Sure, I made some questionable investment decisions back then (a little too much enthusiasm for emerging markets, for instance.) but I was saving rather than spending, no matter what was going on in the markets. Saving became a habit; I didn’t even think about it. Nearly thirty years later, that habit has given my family some financial peace of mind: our house is paid for, our three kids will be able to go to university, and my husband and I can retire someday if we so choose.

Let compounding work for you, too.

Successful Investing is a Long Game 

Paul D. Kaplan, Director of Research, Morningstar Canada

I started my career in investment research in 1988 when I joined a small firm called Ibbotson Associates in Chicago. Ibbotson was best known for its annual publication, the Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation (SBBI) Yearbook, which presented the monthly performance of major US asset classes with data going back to January 1926. The book contained a chart, which was also available as a poster, that showed how one dollar invested on December 31, 1925 in stocks, bonds, and cash would have grown if continually reinvested. The chart also showed that along the way, there were market crashes and recoveries - it's an exercise I have repeated recently, to show that the pain and rewards of equity investing have continued. 

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The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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About Author

Ruth Saldanha

Ruth Saldanha  is Senior Editor, Morningstar.ca