When we think of the Olympics, we often think of athletes who knocked our socks off, such as the astounding Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the amazing U.S. men's hockey team of 1980, the elegant Greg Louganis, the surprising Nadia Comaneci, and the determined Abebe Bikila. These days, we probably also think of current contenders, such as Apolo Anton Ohno and Sasha Cohen.
We marvel at these Olympians' skill, and many of us wish that we were that strong, that fast, that graceful, that skilled. Well, when it comes to sports, if you haven't already been named to the Olympics team, you're probably not going to be competing there. Sorry.
All is not lost, though. You can compete in an arena even more important than sports -- your investments and your financial future. Here, you can strive alongside the superstars of investing, the great money managers of our time, to see how well you do. Better still, you can have some of these brilliant minds invest for you!
Investing by proxy
So what's the big secret? It's not so surprising. Simply identify the great money managers out there, and sign up with some of them. In some cases, this means you'll be buying certain stocks. If, for example, you're a big believer in the talents of Warren Buffett, who heads Berkshire Hathaway, you can buy some shares of his company. Do that, and you'll instantly be a part-owner of the company, sharing in its successes and failures. As your company makes money, big cheeses like Buffett will be deciding how to deploy it in order to get a good bang from the buck -- for you.
An even simpler approach to letting brilliant investors invest for you is to park your moola in carefully selected mutual funds. Consider, for example, the Legg Mason Value Trust
The beauty of fund investing is that once you invest, you don't have to make all of those decisions about what stocks to buy and when to sell. You'll have essentially hired the fund manager to that for you. He or she has plenty of incentive to do well, and when that happens, you'll get richer.
Let us help you
The only problem with this approach I'm suggesting (and even I have lately been gravitating more toward funds than individual stocks) is that so many mutual funds are stinkers. Lists of good performers don't always help, because today's hot fund can cool off quickly.
It's critical to invest in funds with managers whose philosophies you respect and admire -- managers who demonstrate real dedication, taking their reputation seriously and turning in eye-popping results. Seek out those few excellent funds with solid long-term track records and attractive prospects. They are out there, though they're in the minority. We'd love to introduce you to many of them, via our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter. Try it for free, and see which funds analyst Shannon Zimmerman is recommending. Together, his picks have nearly doubled the market's return, gaining an average of 21% (the last I checked) versus 10% in the same time period. Out of 35 picks, only one was underwater, and that was by less than two percentage points.
I'm tempted to brag about his performance some more -- one of his two December picks is already up roughly 11%, and a November pick has advanced by nearly 13%. But that's close to meaningless over such a short period. What really counts is the long run. So consider instead one of his first picks, from April of 2004. It's up about 35% in less than two years. (Even two years, however, is a short period from which to draw major conclusions.) Its top holdings include Valero Energy
Investors of Mount Olympus
So if you're looking for outstanding investment results, consider letting a top-notch investor deliver them to you. Whether you let us help you, or you find great funds on your own, you may end up looking back 10 or 20 years from now and marveling at how your $50,000 became $500,000 through very little effort of your own.
It may feel a little like you're wearing some gold medals around your neck, don't you think?
Here's to a happier portfolio! (And hey -- consider forwarding this article to anyone you care about. Just click on the "Email This Page" link near the bottom of the page.)
UnitedHealth is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.
Selena Maranjian 's favorite discussion boards include Book Club, Eclectic Library , Television Banter, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.