Learning you can't time the market

Two weeks ago, I started at Sharesies as a Summer Finance & Operations Intern. There’s been heaps to learn already, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on my experiences so far.

Becoming an investor

Despite three years of studying accounting and finance, it’s my first time as an actual investor. In the two weeks I’ve been working at Sharesies, the markets have mostly been down. At first, I was pretty reluctant to invest my hard earned cash when the markets weren’t looking so good. I noticed I wanted to buy more shares when the market was up (when share prices were high), and fewer shares when the market was down (when share prices were low). And then I learnt about dollar-cost averaging.

In simple terms, dollar-cost averaging is when you invest a certain amount on a particular investment, regularly, regardless of what the price is. This strategy is meant to average out the amount you spend on shares over time, rather than trying to time the market at a specific high or low point. But that raised a question for me—why not just buy ALL your shares when prices are low?

You can’t time the market

Every morning, I’ve been reading share market predictions from multiple analysts around the world and giving the rest of the Sharesies team an update on where I think things are heading. It’s been really comical seeing just how many times we (including ‘the experts’!) can get it wrong.

And as much as I enjoy the times I get it right, I’ve learnt that it’s actually really hard to pick the ‘low’ share prices with confidence. Investments can be volatile, so you’re better off just keeping your regular investments going—and trying not to worry too much when the markets are starting to dip.

After all, dollar cost averaging is a rubbish strategy if you’re only buying when the markets are going up!

All that finance theory at uni was really helpful...but the real world

At uni, I picked up some pretty awesome skills and knowledge about how money works—but only two weeks into my internship and I see that the theory doesn’t always play out like the textbooks say.

For now, I’ll stick with my regular deposits and make sure I don’t end up following the terrible investment strategy of only buying when the markets are going up. And unless you have the old crystal ball of what’s going to happen (please share), then I’d love to hear your stories of how you stick through this. The thing that makes me feel better every morning is how good it’ll look in five years’ time buying at all of these specials 😜!

Ok, now for the legal bit

Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written.