About the choice for the Forum's profile image.
It's a well known story in finance courses offered in colleges and universities that a challenge was posed where a drunken monkey throwing darts at the stock listings pages of the Wall Street Journal could do better at building a Portfolio than the top paid money managers in the industry
. Depending on when you decide to stop the trials is the main determining factor for who's winning. It's about a coin toss between the record of a random selection and the top managers.
The main reason for this comical outcome is commonly referred to as the Efficient-Market Hypothesis
; in brief, about 1,000 analysts (minimum) per stock study that stock daily as their only job, so if anything could change the pricing of that company thousands of people would immediately react to it so the price a ticker is listed at is correct at all times. The Efficient-Market Hypothesis can't prevent catastrophic changes to a company, like unforeseen health side effects from their product, failing health of a CEO, legislative changes that alter a market, and so on. It also can't stop big positive changes to a security in a short period of time.
I tried it once with a friend of mine who worked at UBS. I made a spreadsheet that was putting together randomly selected characters of lengths 1 to 5 and the first 12 that were real companies were mine. He laughed so hard at my choices. For 2 months he was winning the competition. For multiple years after that I was ahead, and by a large margin. He got sick of talking about it.
If you currently have a person managing your money and they don't have a legal "Fiduciary Duty
" to you as their client, then you cant really trust their motives for suggesting what you put your money into. Generally, the house they work for has a set of products that they want your Financial Advisor to push onto you, and your personal financial advisor may believe they are the best choices, but chances are they aren't. Because of this information gap, you should learn something about picking stocks. Stock Picking is something that most people can do safely and successfully with a reasonable amount of learning and effort.
Also, some people like to say that the Stock Market is just gambling. This is a fallacious statement for a couple reasons. First, in gambling you are generally expecting to loose everything invested or get a big return at every moment; with a stock you are expecting to have a small gain over time and if it's down you can stay in and watch it go back up again or pull out with a small loss. Secondly, in gambling, you are putting your hopes in a truly random variable that is heartless to both the bettor and the house; in the stock market you're putting your hopes in a collection of human beings who are engaged in an existential battle for survival and they care about what their investors think. That's what the normal state is. Sure the sensational stories of debauchery like Enron, Madoff, and other criminal activities are perversions of the system, but just in the USA theirs about 9,000 securities you can invest in and in the last decade their have been about 5 catastrophically dishonest companies. Planes crash, buses hit pedestrians, peanuts kill children and so on, but most of us persevere.