“Don’t Touch It, Don’t Even Look At It!”

Back in 2009 one of my favorite comedies, The Hangover, was released. The groom and his three groomsmen, who consist of two buddies and one odd ball brother-in-law, head off to Las Vegas right before the wedding. To arrive in style, the groom’s soon to be father-in-law let’s him drive his precious 1965 Mercedes Benz convertible. One of my most memorable movie moments of all times happens when they stop to refill the gas tank. The odd ball brother-in-law, Alan, is outside reading a book on counting cards when an elderly gentleman walks up to the car, whistles, and then says innocently “Well you got a sweet ride there.” Without even lifting his nose from his book, Alan replies with pure contempt, “Don’t touch it, don’t even look at it. Go on, get out. You heard me. Don’t look at me either.” A few seconds later Alan adds “I’ll hit an old man in public” as the man walks away out of sight.

I use this line all the time with my children. They come storming into the house, shoes on, unwashed hands, racing towards some treat on the kitchen island. I’ll quickly shout out, “Don’t touch it, don’t even look at it. Go on, get out!” It doesn’t always work, but it does give me a little chuckle every time.

Starting in August, the stock markets around the world have had an uptick in volatility, and I am again reminded of this line. Inside of a portfolio that has been constructed with intent and a long term discipline/timeline, often the best thing to do is to let the gears turn without tinkering or messing with them. The investment company Fidelity did a study years ago about which of their accounts were the best performing. The results, which were surprising, led them to the realization that many of the best performing accounts were actually from clients who had passed away and no one was authorized to make any changes to them. They just sat there, portfolio construction intact, ebbing and flowing, but all the while marching higher over time. This is not to say that there do not exist many practical and prudent reasons to update and alter your portfolio’s course, but most often, the words of crotchety old Alan hold true. ““Don’t touch it, don’t even look at it. Go on, get out. You heard me.”

Happy Friday! Please stay healthy and be safe!

If you want to see the scene from the movie, see below: