Managing your Investments is Like Baking a Souffle

I love to cook! A few years ago, I decided to try to bake the often dreaded souffle. NPR had a feature on The Science of the Perfect Souffle that made me crave the delicate and light texture of the aerated eggs for a nice brunch. There are a few challenges if you want a perfect souffle and NPR’s Joe Palca turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C, for the perfect souffle.

The really neat thing about souffles is they can be a main dish when the eggs are mixed with herbs or cheese or they can be an elegant dessert when fruit or chocolate are included. Either way, the texture and flavor of a souffle is well worth the effort, but, as the chef you must make sure to avoid two common errors or you will end up with a collapsed pile of eggs.

The first problem with a souffle is that it can be difficult to get the eggs to hold the air needed to keep the dish’s texture. The egg yolks must be removed before beating the raw eggs. Once you beat the air into the egg whites, you still have the risk of the souffle collapsing if you open the oven door or take it out of the oven too quickly. If you beat the air in and patiently allow the souffle to “set” before opening the oven door, you will be rewarded with a delicate dish worthy of the time and effort that are required.

Fortunately, my own experience with baking souffles has been successful. The process is similar to designing and maintaining an investment portfolio and the problems you may encounter are also similar.

There are two basic requirements that are critical to a well-designed and successful investment portfolio. The first is choosing the right ingredients and mixing them properly. This requires time and work prior to actually buying any single investment. You need to know the type of portfolio you want? Do you need income currently or is the purpose of the portfolio to grow and provide for your retirement many years from now? Without knowing your objectives, it will not be possible to select the right ingredients. Once you have chosen your objective, you must mix the different ingredients together to form an investment portfolio.

Many investors forget to take the advance time needed to determine their objective and choose their ingredients prior to buying the individual investments and mixing them together. This is a critical step and necessary if you don’t want your portfolio to collapse.

The second  requirement for a successful investment portfolio is patience. Opening the oven too look at a souffle can cause it to collapse. Looking at your investment portfolio too often may have the same effect. You also must have the patience to allow the portfolio to stay in the market until it is ready. If you take your portfolio out of the market, it may collapse and you end up with a disappointment far worse than the collapse of your breakfast souffle!

Photo Credit Flickr, some rights reserved, by David Turner

About Paul Puckett

3 Responses to “Managing your Investments is Like Baking a Souffle”

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  1. I need to work on the second piece. I have a tendency to over watch my money instead of letting it do its thing. It was good when I didnt have much but as it as grown it is more of a waste of time and cause for panic than anything else.

  2. Kevin Mzansi says:

    Love the metaphor!
    I also totally agree with KC, above: the second part is the hardest part: the patience required not to tinker with your portfolio before it has time to make your investment hypothesis and strategies bear fruit is very difficult to pull off.

  3. Paul Puckett says:

    The most rewarding part of writing is seeing someone really get the point that you, as a writer, hope is in your final piece. KC, thanks for picking up on the problem created by more money. Particularly that the more you have, the harder it is to handle.

    Kevin, you nailed the most difficult, in my opinion, part of investing – patience. It is extremely difficult for investors, professionals included, to have the patience needed to hold to a strategy long enough for it to “bear fruit”.

    Thanks to you both!

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