If there was ever an unexpectedly positive year for financial markets, 2017 was it: U.S. equities broke record after record, while cryptocurrencies exploded into our investment psyche with huge gains.
Plenty of investors should be feeling some end-of-year cheer for those U.S. stock-market returns, whether tracked by the Dow Jones Industrial Average
the Nasdaq Composite
or other measure.
Of course, there were bigger returns out there, such as in Hong Kong
stocks or palladium, and then there were those runaway gains for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But no one can get everything right every year, and investors who fall short of perfection should know theyve got plenty of company, starting with author and politician Ron Pauls bear call this August.
Twitter is full of investors who are trading ideas, cheering their wins and licking their wounds. MarketWatch spoke to some of the biggest names about what they wish they had done differently in 2017. Heres how they answered:
Chris Ciovacco , founder & CEO of Ciovacco Capital: Fortunately, our models have been heavily weighted to stocks since the U.S. election. We added several positions in early November 2016, including regional banks. Our what would we have done differently answer relates to taking some profits earlier on some of those positions. For example, banks
gained over 30% between early November 2016 and early March 2017.
We did nail down some nice profits in May 2017, but reallocating some capital in March and April would have improved performance. While it was a frustrating period of consolidation and underperformance for banks, we did learn some valuable lessons that led to some significant research breakthroughs in our modeling process, he added.
Larry Tentarelli, founder of TrendTradingSignals: I have been completely long and did a good job of buying the pullbacks. I was underexposed in some of the China names and emerging markets, which I have caught up on recently.
Read: Michael Brush on 6 Chinese stocks to buy while theyre on sale
Ben Carlson, director of institutional asset management at Ritholtz Wealth Management: My investing philosophy is centered around regret minimization so I try not to worry too much about things I wish I would have done. Its always easy to kick yourself for not investing in the biggest gainers of the year, but investors have to remember that they are more likely to invest in big losers than big gainers. 2017 was a good year all around for global markets so if you didnt make money this past year, you should probably re-evaluate your strategy.
Adam Kobeissi, founder and editor in chief of The Kobeissi Letter: One thing I wouldve done differently this year is reassuring my subscribers that the markets would be OK, even during times of volatility around the election and events like Brexit. Even though The Kobeissi Letter has been long the S&P 500 since 1,900, there were times of panic, but the markets always find a way to work themselves out.
Read: Bitcoin $1 million, Amazon $1 trillion: Bold calls of 2017 are worth watching now
The list of regrets includes some cryptocurrency mentions:
Josh Brown, blogger at The Reformed Broker and CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management: In 2017, I wish I had been less timid and put 5% of my net worth into bitcoin
when I began buying in July. But I dont take risks like that as a rule, so I dont regret it that much. Having rules keeps you sane.
Raoul Pal, former hedge-fund manager and founder of Real Vision Group: I wish I hadnt sold my bitcoin for a 10x gain at $2,000, obviously. But I never have regret when taking profits when my thesis has changed.
Howard Lindzon, co-founder of StockTwits: In 2017 I wish I had HODLd the bitcoin and Ethereum I started the year with and bought every time I actually sold. I am a stock guy and not a currency/commodity person and I am trained to take profits on the way up and have never seen anything like this in 30-plus years of trading/investing.
Sven Henrich, lead market strategist at Northman Trader: My wifes brother told us to buy bitcoin when it was at $1,600. You can imagine the rest. Needless to say his Christmas stocking is full of bitcoin.
Stephen Burns, founder of New Trader U: I wish I would have learned more about bitcoin, cryptocurrency and block chain technology early in the year.
Read: Heed Warren Buffetts warning: Bitcoin is pure FOMO (fear of missing out)
Now that youve read the regrets, click here to see their big calls for 2018.