• Margaret Curtis, MD

Confidence and Investing

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

A residency classmate of mine placed a SC line by himself. Without an attending present. As an intern[1]. When I was an intern, I had to check my sources before entering “low salt diet please” in a chart.

Overconfidence is not a quality I associate with women, even physicians with years of training and education under their belts. Women often assume that someone who claims proficiency in the financial world (and there are plenty of them) is better qualified to invest their money than they themselves could ever be. This is just not true.

In fact, overconfidence is actually associated with really poor investing results. Those who think they are the smartest person in the room also tend to think they can game the system. Speculative investments like exotic currency exchanges, bundled derivatives that no one can actually explain – these were invented by really, really confident people.

Historically, the best investing returns have come from buying simple, straightforward investments such as stock and bond index funds, and messing with them as little as possible. Every time you tinker with your investments by buying, selling, or trading you incur fees which eat into your returns. Buying speculative investments has brought down entire investment firms. Trying to game the system can be really expensive.

xray of a lightbulb in rectum

Not all ideas are good ones.

By all means, learn the financial basics. You are plenty smart enough. You will find it doesn’t take much to make you feel confident of your ability to manage your own money. In the meantime, think of your hesitancy as discernment. Think of it as savvy. When it comes to your money, you are already the smartest person in the room.


[1] This shows confidence but poor judgment. If you are a student or resident reading this: please don’t do what he did.

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