Completeness

You don’t have to break down Gödel's completeness theorem to understand the satisfaction around a feeling of “completeness”.

I have no clue what any of this means.

I have no clue what any of this means.

Many investors seek a sense of completeness in their portfolios.

That’s one of the many reasons why becoming a Boglehead or efficient-market purist is such a draw for the logically-minded. It lends itself in practice to such a nice set of practical steps that are either complete or incomplete.

  • Did we establish a realistic risk tolerance?

  • Did we translate the results of that risk tolerance to a low-cost, tax-efficient, market-cap weighted portfolio of funds?

  • Will someone rebalance this to keep us on track?

These are rock solid, and absolutely necessary questions for any investor to answer.

(Also, a computer can answer them, which is useful.)

However, my experience tells me that a set of logical questions with simple yes/no answers doesn’t “scratch the itch” for many investors: to have a conversation of substance about their investments & plans.

A few less logical questions that tend to help most investors feel “complete” include:

  • What investments are we missing out on?

  • What is everyone else doing that I’m not?

  • Are my investment people doing their job?

  • When is the last time I thought about this?

  • What’s the story here?


Completeness is relative. One strange attribute of financial planning is that it’s rarely, if ever, complete.

Many prospective clients ask if we can complete a “check-up” where we do the equivalent of a physical at the doctor, and that is quite useful. I try to let those people know that even though we can accomplish quite a bit in a short period of time, we may end up generating more questions than answers.

Robinson Crawford