The Difference between Investment & Speculation

Investment is the low to medium risk art of conserving capital and protecting it against inflation, such that in the long run, capital appreciates. Speculation is the high risk art of trying to turn a small amount of money into a large amount.

Investment banks upon the power of compounding. It is an amalgamation of human, monetary and product capital, a combination that favours appreciation in the long run, not linear, but exponential appreciation, owing to the power of compounding. The key requirements are intelligence during scrip selection, patience and tolerance to allow multi-baggers to develop and blossom, and common-sense in handling one’s portfolio. Also, one needs to weed one’s portfolio at times, to remove poisonous scrips.

Speculation banks upon the power of leverage. This construct of finance is a double-edged sword. It can compound one’s profits, but also one’s losses. The speculator tries to cut losses and let profits run. This is easier said than done, because it goes against our natural instincts.

In the end, there are both successful and unsuccessful investors and speculators.

The key to deciding what line one should pursue here is a recognition of one’s own risk profile and appetite. What gives one sleepless nights? What is one’s pain threshold? How much loss can one bear without any effect on family life?

Such questions need to be answered before embarking upon either investment or speculation.