8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?


Do you tend to invest in a particular way? Identifying which type of investor you are can help you understand the potential pitfalls of your investment approach — and how to improve your chances for better investment returns. Which type of investor are you?

1. Automatic investor

The automatic investor is all about convenience. Everything related to investing is set on autopilot. Automatic contributions to investment funds come out of every paycheck or are withdrawn from the bank account on a certain day of the month. This type of investor doesn't spend much time or effort thinking about investing, and doesn't need to since everything is automatic. They don't have to remind themselves to invest; it's checked off their financial to-do list.

The potential downside for the automatic investor is losing touch with where investment funds are going and how the investment portfolio is performing. If you are not paying attention, you may not have investment selections that meet your current goals, and you may not identify and remove low performing investments or funds with high fees. If you don't check in at least occasionally, this hands-off approach may cost you. Rebalancing your portfolio once or twice a year by transferring funds to maintain your desired proportions of stocks to bonds should be sufficient to keep your investment portfolio on track. (See also: The Most Important Thing You're Probably Not Doing With Your Portfolio)

2. Daily Dow watcher

The Dow watcher is constantly up to speed. They know at any time if the stock market is up or down. The current market price and chart is only a tap away on their smartphone. This type of investor knows how much their portfolio is worth and worries about how much they are losing when the market has a bad day. Nothing goes over the Dow watcher's head.

The risk for the Dow watcher is that he or she can easily get stressed out by day-to-day ups and downs in the market. They may even get discouraged when the market is going down and decide to sell stock when the price is low — the worst time to sell! It's good to be informed, especially when it comes to your investments, but if you find yourself too glued to the Dow's daily performance — it might be a good idea to step away from the news for a bit. Checking in on the stock market and your investment portfolio quarterly is probably more than frequent enough, and you can use the time you save for something more productive and enjoyable.

3. Active trader

The active trader is a studious investor. This type of investor tries to time the market by figuring out that a stock is going up before other investors realize it — and then selling when it is near the peak price before most investors figure out that it is going down. This type of investor pores over market and economic data, reads business articles, and is well-informed about business trends and news. He or she is willing to take risks for a chance at big returns.

If you're an active trader, tread carefully; you can easily lose significant money if your timing is off. Trading fees can also get expensive if your investment approach requires making a lot of trades. You are much more likely to make money from buying good stocks and holding them for the long haul.

4. Conscientious investor

Conscientious investors put their money where their morals are. They have limits to what activities and products they are willing to be involved with in order to make a buck. For example, some conscientious investors invest only in socially-responsible or environmentally-responsible companies, and avoid owning shares in companies that promote values or products contrary to their moral principles. This type of investor is likely to exert economic influence through consumer purchasing decisions as well as through their stock picks.

This type of ethical investing unfortunately can limit a person's investment options, which may result in lower returns. But some things are worth more than money to conscientious investors. (See also: A Simple Guide to Socially Responsible Investing)

5. Property investor

Not every investor owns stocks. The property investor owns real estate, collectibles, gold, and maybe even bonds. He or she wants to invest in things that they can understand and control to some extent. This type of investor may not trust Wall Street and avoids the volatility of stocks.

Historically, however, stocks have had great investment returns compared to other investment types, so property investors who shy away from the stock market could be missing out. Large cap value stocks can be a relatively safe way to start off in stock investing for first-time stock investors.

6. Bargain investor

This is the kind of investor that pounced on GM stock when it was $1 per share in 2009. Of course there is risk that bargain stocks could become worthless, but there is potential for the stock price to bounce back. The bargain investor looks carefully at P/E ratios to check the share price relative to earnings per share when deciding what stock to buy.

Bargain hunters should be wary though — sometimes stocks with low prices are trading at a low price for a good reason. The bigger the bargain, the more research is merited into why the price is so low before you buy.

7. Company loyalist

The company loyalist owns a disproportionate amount of stock from an individual company. This could be a trendy stock that inspires loyalty like Apple or Tesla, or the company loyalist could own a large amount of his or her own employer's stock.

Owning a large amount of any single company stock can be risky. The company could experience a major scandal or product failure and the stock price could tank. Remember Enron? Owning a lot of stock in the company you work for is even riskier, because if something goes wrong you'll not only lose value in your stock fund, but you may lose your job at the same time. Some financial advisers suggest that owning more than 10 percent to 15 percent of your company's stock may be too much.

8. Portfolio tweaker

The portfolio tweaker is not really an active trader, but likes to adjust and fine tune his or her portfolio frequently by making transfers between funds to get the desired balance between large cap, mid cap, small cap, foreign, domestic, growth, value, and bond investment categories.

While it is good to adjust your portfolio occasionally to meet your investment goals, frequently selling investments that are performing well just to meet an arbitrary "balance" in your portfolio may not be the best move and could hurt your overall return. As we advised the automatic investor, portfolio rebalancing once or twice per year is a good interval for most investors.

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