Are wise investors born or made?

Published: 27th March, 2014

My investments: Ajaz Ahmed, the co-founder of Freeserve
(this article first appeared in the Yorkshire Post 12th April 2014)

Q.        Are wise investors born or made?
You can learn the mechanics of investing but I believe acumen is something you are born with and you can also learn from previous mistakes.

Q.        Do you believe it’s become harder for entrepreneurs to make prudent
investments since the crash of 2008?

A deal is a deal and what happened in the past is irrelevant, you can make good investments even in a recession.

Q.        What’s the worst investment you’ve ever made?
I’ve invested in start-up companies that didn’t work out and lost all my investment.

Q.        Which sectors are most likely to offer handsome returns for business investors?
Some people like safe bets so they invest in stocks and shares, others like me prefer start-ups, which are a much bigger risk, but if it comes off you get a much bigger reward. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and some of the great new companies now seem so obvious but being able to spot and have the courage to invest in of those companies requires skill and a lot of nerves.

Q.       Which sectors are most likely to offer handsome returns for business investors?
Anything you don’t understand.

Q.       What lessons did you learn from your worst investment?
The lessons I’ve learnt are: Only get involved if I can influence the outcome, I don’t want to be a bystander. It’s got to be something that I understand. Spend more time at the beginning getting to know the people, its no good finding out in a years time that you can’t stand your partners.

Q.       What was the best piece of investment advice you’ve received?
When we are winning we don’t take many risks. When we are facing a loss we are more willing to take bigger risks, this is called “Loss Aversion.” You should look at each decision in isolation and not make the mistake of throwing good money after bad because you are looking at a loss. I wish I had learnt this early in my life.