We heard from many people that they had a strong interest in investing, but were uncertain of how to get started, or what kind of “homework” they needed to do. In this segment, Kelly McShane, CFA, of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group explains that it’s not necessary to dive headlong into the details—and breaks down the broad fundamentals that lead to long-term investing success.

“Women and investing: Unique situations, practical suggestions” webcast

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Rebecca Katz: I’ll start with you, Kelly. The first question will go to you. It’s from Mariana in Boston, Massachusetts. And she says, “Are there techniques to help prevent the tendency for me and many other women to avoid the details of money and investing? I’m consistently shocked that I and so many women I know are smart, very ambitious, and accomplished but fairly ignorant about investing.” So what would you suggest?

Kelly McShane: Absolutely, and I love that we’re starting with this question because this is something that we see around the globe with both women and men, this tendency to not dive into the details of investing.

And what we like to remind investors though is there are really two ways to think about investing. You can dive into the details, but you don’t have to. We actually believe that there are these broad fundamentals. We call them our investing principles—that’s a good place to start. And they’re the things, if you focus on them, that actually lead to that long-term success. So I encourage investors to start there.

The first is establish goals. So clear, appropriate goals. What are you saving for? What are you looking to do with your investments? The second piece is focus on balance. So creating a diversified portfolio that balances risk and return. Number three, focus on minimizing your costs. So every investment has a cost. The more you pay, the less that you get in returns. And number four is maintain discipline. So whatever your goals are and how you’re investing, stick to that and continue to focus on that for the long term. And from there you can dive more into the details or really choose how much more you want to go. But we really do believe that those four fundamentals are what lead to long-term success, so we encourage investors to start there.


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