4 unexpected investing lessons from 7-year-old learning to solve Rubik’s cube

Over the past month, my 6-year-old son and I have been learning how to solve the Rubik’s Cube – and here is something that got me thinking. It is incredibly difficult to solve the Rubik’s cube, much like navigating the complexities of investing. The cube has 43 quintillion combinations, and if you stare at it long enough, you will find it mind-boggling. Similarly, even investors with several years of experience and expertise find investing challenging.

A Rubik’s cube has multiple interconnected parts; one wrong move can take you back to square one. Investing is similar – myriad factors, such as inflation, currency, interest rates, company profits, company management, etc., hold sway over investment success, and one wrong investment decision may lead to significant losses. No wonder those who crack the code, i.e., solve the cube or become successful investors, are raised to a pedestal, and treated as geniuses.

Does this mean that if you are not a genius, all your attempts at solving the cube or investing are in vain? Fortunately, no.

Here are some parallels that I figured between investing and solving the Rubik’s cube:

Building muscle memory is essential to succeed: Practice. Practice. Practice. Solving the cube on your first try would be nearly impossible. You need to keep practising, learn tricks along the way and build muscle memory such that it eventually falls into place.

Investing world parallel: The same principle applies to investing. Investors and advisors who spend decades investing develop muscle memory that makes them better investors. Their expertise stems from having gone through similar trends multiple times over decades – and they can leverage this experience to distil noise while advising clients.

Rule-based approach: In the Rubik’s cube realm, there is a stark contrast between a structured approach—often termed ‘algos’—and haphazard, erratic steps. Unsurprisingly, the structured approach is a clear winner. These ‘algos’ offer a streamlined path, enabling swift progression through the cube’s complexities and eliminating tedious backtracking. Over time, these algorithms become ingrained, eventually becoming second nature in solving the cube.

Crafting strategic foundation: Investing success also involves a series of processes with multiple checklists, protocols, and sub-activities that can institutionalise the process of investing. Jumping between steps or being haphazard is a recipe for disaster. Steps such as creating a detailed plan or an IPS (Investment Policy Statement), focusing on asset allocation, strategy around security selection, a stringent review mechanism and being vigilant on cost, can form a foundation on which to build your investing success. For experienced advisors, these steps almost come naturally, almost like Rubik’s Algos.

Role of imagination, innovation, and honing the cutting edge

The record time to solve the cube has come down from one month (1974) to 23 seconds (1982) to today’s world record of 3.13 seconds. This staggering reduction in solve time is due to profound innovation in three areas:

a) Physical attributes of the cube, for example, drift, speed cubes, etc., b) Worldwide acceptance and availability of resources and training, and c) Intuition-driven speed-solving algos such as F2L, CFOP, ZZ.

Transformative Shifts: Pertaining to the investment landscape of India’s sophisticated investors, we are witnessing transformative changes driven by innovation, deepening of talent pools and implementation of global best practices and supportive regulations. Consider this:

Innovation: Innovation in products and platforms such as REITs, private equity, AIFs, large value funds (LVFs), are expanding the HNI and UHNI investment landscape. Investors can choose from a wide range of portfolio managers, advisors or distributors that are the ‘right fit’ for them. This rapid innovation is unlocking phenomenal opportunities for sophisticated investors.

Talent pool: Enabling regulations such as the IBC Code, RIA regulations and more lowers entry barriers for talented managers, creates a level playing field and protects the rights of investors. This opens a large segment of the talent pool which looks at investing as a viable career – leading to greater innovation and better investment frameworks – a virtuous cycle!

Global best practices: India is embracing global best practices across Mutual Funds, PMS, AIF and RIA regulations. Through the GIFT City initiative, we are becoming a jurisdiction of choice, both for Indian investors to access foreign markets or for foreigners to invest in India. Not surprisingly, we are seeing ever-increasing flows into financial investments from across the ecosystem, including mature investors such as family offices and institutions.

Although there is no hidden formula for mastering the game, adhering to a consistent and disciplined approach can be the key to attaining the ultimate prize in both conquering the cube and excelling in the art of investing.

Himadri Chatterjee, Head, Advisory & Key Clients Group, 360 ONE Wealth

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