I am an active investor , where I take control of my decisions and investments myself, Where as people that have Managed Investments or through a Financial Planner and things go wrong, can always put part of the blame and responsibility on them.
So I alone must bare 100% fault or success, I prefer this, although by doing this I acknowledge that I don't have as much skills or access to different investments as some professionals.
The hardest thing is to keep a lid on success and not go crazy thinking I'm a unique, brilliant, free thinker in Investments. And the other part is to fully understand where I fail, and to acknowledge that and learn from it and most importantly DON'T REPEAT THE MISTAKES!!!
So what went wrong....
Global Commodity prices tanked
Hedging - the importance and risks
Global Credit Crunch
Tip sheet picks
High gearing in Margin Loan
Not understanding business models and profitability
High debt levels in companies
Bad company culture
Although many things in that list are beyond my direct control, I can choose to invest in any business so ultimately it is all my fault.
So what would I do differently?
Focus more on underlying profitability, less debt, good products, less gearing, and more individual research. Don't force or hope for certain returns in a set time frame. No matter how good the research, the exact eventual return will always differ from the original plan.
Even so good investments can turn bad, understanding that share prices do tank, but understand the difference between share price falls and fundamental changes in business conditions both external and internal to the company.
Be more selective with my stock/property investments.
Only invest in profitable cash flow positive investments
Have a loan set up so in emergency I have access to funds to see me over the worst of it, so I can re arrange my structures at my leisure, not by forced margin calls.
Ignore all hot tips and research notes and tip sheets (they can only be part of the background research)
Be more aware of macro-economic forces, both international and nationally .
If a company isn't cash flow positive in 1 year, it is a speculative investment and should never exceed 5%
If a company is struggling to manage it's existing projects be very careful
Companies that consistently take over others, should be ignored. Any take over should be carefully examined to see if it changes the fundamental's of why I invested. And should be fully bedded down before embarking on any other projects.
Pay down debts, to be ready when the economy turns around, to able to take advantage of opportunities.
Patience is the key, allow good opportunities to pass, there will be more!!