Are You Following the Financial Herd?

July 2, 2024

Herd mentality is the tendency to follow the actions of a larger group, even when those actions might not be in one’s best interest. When it comes to finances, herd mentality may have significant implications for your investments and retirement planning. The first step to avoiding this common bias is understanding its prevalence. Second, is identifying specific ways to curb the behavior.

Why Do We Follow the Herd?

According to a survey conducted by CFA Institute, herding was identified as the most significant behavioral bias, affecting 34% of investment decision-making among respondents​.[1] There are several reasons why people succumb to this behavioral bias:

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): When everyone is talking about a “hot” stock or investment opportunity, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out if you don’t join in.
  • Safety in Numbers: It feels safer to follow the crowd, especially in uncertain times. If everyone else is selling their stocks, it may be tempting to do the same.
  • Social Proof: We often look to others to determine the right course of action. If a large group of people is making a particular investment decision, it may seem like the correct choice.

Impact on Investments and Retirement

Herd mentality may have negative effects on your investments and retirement planning. Here are a few ways it can manifest:

  • Buying High, Selling Low: One of the most common mistakes driven by herd mentality is buying stocks when prices are high and selling when they are low. For example, during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, many investors rushed to buy tech stocks at their peak, only to see their investments plummet when the bubble burst.
  • Increased Volatility: Following the crowd can lead to increased market volatility. When many investors buy or sell at the same time, it may cause sharp price swings that make it difficult to predict market movements.
  • Missing Long-Term Goals: Herd mentality may lead to short-term thinking, causing you to deviate from your long-term investment strategy. For instance, panic selling during a market downturn may result in missing out on subsequent recoveries, affecting your overall retirement goals.

How to Avoid the Herd Mentality

As your financial advisors, we encourage you to take a disciplined approach to investing. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of herd mentality:

  • Stick to Your Plan: Develop a well-thought-out investment strategy and stick to it, regardless of market fluctuations. This may help you stay focused on your long-term goals.
  • Diversify Your Portfolio: Diversification may help reduce risk and minimize the impact of market volatility. By spreading your investments across different asset classes, you may avoid being overly influenced by the performance of a single investment.
  • Stay Informed: Make informed decisions based on thorough research and analysis. Don’t rely solely on what others are doing or saying.
  • Consult with Your Financial Advisor: Regularly meet with your financial advisor to review your investment strategy and make adjustments as needed. We can provide objective guidance to help you stay on track.

Remember, we believe the key to successful investing is to remain calm and rational, even when the market is anything but. By avoiding the herd mentality and focusing on your long-term goals, you may make better investment decisions and build a more secure retirement.


If you have any questions or need personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of investing.

[1]Cipm, S. K. C. (2017, June 13). The herding mentality: behavioral finance and investor biases. CFA Institute Enterprising Investor. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2015/08/06/the-herding-mentality-behavioral-finance-and-investor-biases/

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