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Goodbye and good luck

I am writing this on the last day of 2015, when most people are looking forward to the New Year. But I am instead looking backwards and thinking about the lessons learned during my eight years as personal finance editor of Investors Chronicle. Next week I move on to a new job in journalism and I’ve spent some of my Christmas break flicking through almost 400 copies of Investors Chronicle to find my best articles - I've picked out three below.

It's been a real honour to help Investors Chronicle readers try to be smarter with their money. I feel privileged to have interviewed some of the most interesting characters in the investment world: Mary Buffett, Burton Malkiel, Nick Train, Hugh Hendry and Sebastian Lyon all stand out. And I have absolutely loved editing the Portfolio Clinic, where real readers share their investment stories and get tips from the experts.

From my time on the magazine, it's clear that more and more investors want to do it themselves rather than using a professional. And thankfully, we're no longer shy about sharing our experiences.

So a huge thank you to everyone who has written in to Portfolio Clinic. It's been an honour to see hundreds of your portfolios.

I think Portfolio Clinic is the most interesting section of the magazine because it is where investors learn from each other. Those who have had their portfolios featured in the section have received valuable tips from our experts but have also given to other investors by showing what is possible and sharing their experiences. Please continue writing in to portfolio.clinic@ft.com

I hope that my two initiatives - Top 100 Funds and Top 50 Exchange Traded Funds - have helped simplify things for investors. Because I believe that investing can be made as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, and most investors would be better off taking the simple route. Don't try to be too clever.

Good luck in building meaningful wealth for your future. If you want to keep in touch you can follow me on Twitter where I am @MoiraONeill.

 

My three favourite articles for Investors Chronicle

1. Dickens, compound interest and fund charges (February 2012)

Charles Dickens wrote a lot about money issues. But I think that this quote from Bleak House is the one that investors should heed most: "The father of this pleasant grandfather, of the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, was a horny-skinned, two-legged, money-getting species of spider who spun webs to catch unwary flies and retired into holes until they were entrapped. The name of this old pagan's god was Compound Interest. He lived for it, married it, died of it."

The message of the article is that compound interest is the friend of the long-term investor. It arises when interest is added to the sum invested, so that, from that moment on, the interest that has been added also earns interest. However, compound interest is also the friend of the product provider. If charges or commissions are taken each year as a percentage of the investment, then the effect of compounding increases charges over the years.

 

2. Three deep questions that could change your portfolio (December 2014)

This interview with George Kinder, founder of 'life planning movement' explored how investors can have a more emotional connection with their money. Here are the three questions that Mr Kinder advises you ask yourself about personal aspirations that have money consequences.

Q1. If you suddenly realised that you had all the money you need for the rest of your life, what would you do?

Q2. Imagine a situation where you go to visit a doctor and are presented with the news that you have a serious illness. You have five to 10 years left to live. However, you won't have pain or feel sick during that time. What would you do?

Q3. You go to the doctor and are told you have 24 hours left to live. What have you missed in life? What did you not do and who did you want to be?

Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can put in place an investment plan to achieve your goals.

 

3. Be focused, detached and humble (March 2009)

In this interview, legendary Fidelity fund manager Anthony Bolton explained how he feels about his amazing investing record.

"I'm a fairly unemotional sort of person," he says. "Being unemotional is very important." In fact he warns me to be wary if I meet a very emotional fund manager. He thinks very emotional people generally make poor fund managers. "Good fund managers should be humble (humility is an attribute that many portfolio managers lack) and happy to make mistakes; mistakes are an integral part of the job."

His key advice for Investors Chronicle's readers: "A private investor doesn't need to own lots of stocks. Warren Buffett says 10 stocks. I think I would go for a bigger spread but no more than 20. I couldn't have run very big funds without back-up from analysts. I couldn't follow 200 stocks on my own."