Raja Ampat and the rewards of time rather than timing
Endowus Insights

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Raja Ampat and the rewards of time rather than timing

Mar 2022
May 2019

Raja Ampat lies on the edge of the Indonesian archipelago off the west coast of Papua. Apart from having the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet, magical coral gardens, and lots of fish, Raja is a stomping ground for the ginormous oceanic manta.

As a diver, making it to Raja is a dream come true - a selfish and indulgent act to try and capture a perfect memory.

Every morning, we woke at 6, had a quick breakfast, jumped into our wetsuits, and made our way out to one of Raja's famous dive sites. By 7, we were in the water, descending to unspoiled reefs teeming with life and colour.

After spending three to four hours underwater each day, dives start to converge, ears and sinuses begin to ache, and we humans become spoilt and numb to 'regular' beauty. Hunting for something 'special' becomes a feeling, first of anticipation prior to getting in the water, but usually followed by slight disappointment after getting out of the water.

Sometimes we get lazy and might skip a dive. Unfortunately, this almost always leads to further disappointment.

On day 4 we arrived at a dive site called Blue Magic. Cruising around in the current, things looked busy on the reef but nothing out of the ordinary. Halfway through the dive we saw her in the distance. We quickly descended to the ocean floor hoping not to scare her away with our bubbles. She made a leftward bank like an A380, and was headed straight over our heads.

image of a manta ray

Spanning seven meters wing to wing, the oceanic manta flew through the water with dignity. She was close enough to block out the light as she passed.

Experiences are fleeting; they require time, money, risk, and commitment, but the memories last forever. We would have missed capturing this memory if we didn't patiently stick to our dive plan every day.

Being consistent and systematic is important in achieving many of our needs and ambitions. Investment success is a good example of this: time in the market rather than market timing is crucial to our success.

We looked at the daily performance of the MSCI All-Country World Index (USD, net) from 2001 to end-April 2019 (as far back as this index goes). In the 4,730 trading days in the period, missing just 10 of the best days would have brought your return from +159% to+46%.

graph of MSCI All-Country World Index from Jan 2001 to April 2019
Source: Morningstar, MSCI, Endowus research

Missing just the top 20 days would have put you in the red at -0.3%.

Staying invested over time is important. We just don't know what will happen to market prices in the near future, and missing those few days can be very detrimental to your long-term returns.

It is tempting to time the market, with all the news constantly bashing our screens. But as Burt Malkiel, author of the 1973 classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street said:

"I have never known anyone who could consistently time the market. And in fact I've never known anyone who knows anyone, who was able to consistently time the market."

If you believe that humanity will continue making goods and services to serve humanity, you should believe that the market will go up in the long-run, as it has for as long as observable history.

I recently hosted a webinar as well, discussing how the events of late have kept investors awake at night, and have caused wavering of investment philosophies toward a black swan event as such.

But as with many things in life, I want to reiterate that making the commitment of time will lead to better outcomes.

The beauty of investing is that it can be done passively, while you live your life, hunting for memories.

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