Behavioral Portfolio Analysis of Individual Investors
Existing studies on individual investors’ decision-making often rely on observable socio-demographic variables to proxy for underlying psychological processes that drive investment choices. Doing so implicitly ignores the latent heterogeneity amongst investors in terms of their preferences and beliefs that form the underlying drivers of their behavior. To gain a better understanding of the relations among individual investors’ decision-making, the processes leading to these decisions, and investment performance, this paper analyzes how systematic differences in investors’ investment objectives and strategies impact the portfolios they select and the returns they earn. Based on recent findings from behavioral finance we develop hypotheses which are tested using a combination of transaction and survey data involving a large sample of online brokerage clients. In line with our expectations, we find that investors driven by objectives related to speculation have higher aspirations and turnover, take more risk, judge themselves to be more advanced, and underperform relative to investors driven by the need to build a financial buffer or save for retirement. Somewhat to our surprise, we find that investors who rely on fundamental analysis have higher aspirations and turnover, take more risks, are more overconfident, and outperform investors who rely on technical analysis. Our findings provide support for the behavioral approach to portfolio theory and shed new light on the traditional approach to portfolio theory.
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