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Game, set, match

18 July 2019

5 minute read

Today, we have more data than ever at our disposal to draw on when investing. Here, we consider how to use this data to aid our investment decision-making rather than overwhelm it.

Who's it for? Confident investors

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek independent advice. Tax rules can change in future. Their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.

What you’ll learn:

  • How many kilos of strawberries and cream are consumed at Wimbledon.
  • Parallels in the way data influences tennis and investing.
  • The importance of psychology in tennis and investing.

Wimbledon, the oldest, and regarded by many as the most prestigious tournament in the world, has just graced us again. A fortnight of exciting grass court tennis, strawberries and cream, long evenings and (certainly this year) great weather is a familiar feature of summer in Britain.

Wimbledon is notable for its traditions; a tennis match this year did not look very different to one a decade ago. The strict all white dress code for competitors, the smart dress code for particular spectator areas, the snacks and drinks served (34,000 kg of strawberries and 10,000 litres of cream in 2017), and the absence of sponsor advertising except one brand have stayed constant.

The data age

The one big change has been the amount of data which is produced and analysed during a tennis match. Hawk-Eye was introduced into tennis in 2002, and for the spectator it is most visibly used in identifying whether a ball has bounced in or out when an official is challenged by a player.

Cameras, Hawk-Eye ball tracking systems and teams of analysts now scrutinise every moment of every game, producing a wealth of information about every aspect of a match, from the number of aces and double faults, to maps of where players are hitting the ball. For example, in the semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, spectators on the BBC were shown through Hawk-Eye how, after the first set, Nadal adjusted his distance behind the baseline when Federer served.

This data has provided commentators, coaches and spectators a wealth of match stats and real-time insights during matches, which can deepen the immersion and enhance the fan experience. For players and their teams, the data provides predictive analytics pre-game, real-time player performance statistics, and post-match information to understand what happened in a match and why. This means that players have more data than they have ever had before on both their own, and their opponent’s game, to be as prepared as possible for a match. The top players now have coaches whose focus is on performance data.

Holding your nerve

When Novak Djokovic walked on to the Wimbledon Centre Court to fight for the grand slam title last week against Roger Federer, despite all the data that his team will have had to create the best strategy to win the match, his nerve during the match was just as important to success.

A player’s mindset is a key factor in a tennis match, because mental resilience and a belief in oneself become crucial for a player to push through the difficult points in a match and stick to the game plan. Knowing what the data says may be of little use if a player is not able to stay in the right frame of mind to make use of it. With Federer two championship points up in the fifth set and the crowd firmly behind him, it took enormous effort, both mentally as well as physically by Djokovic to defend them and go on to win the final. At 4 hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final in history, with Djokovic calling it the most mentally demanding match he had ever been a part of.

The way data influences investing and tennis have close parallels. Investors have a seemingly infinite amount of data that they can use to support their decision-making. However, having additional data doesn’t necessarily make being a successful investor any better, just like having all this data available doesn’t make it easier to play tennis.

In the same way that tennis players must hold their nerve when matches get tough, investors must do too. In choppy markets when being invested feels uncomfortable and our emotions can get the better of us, a cool head is required for rational decision-making and sticking to our investment plans and strategies.

Does data help or hinder?

We have more data than we have ever had at our disposal to draw on when investing. This can aid our investment decision-making, but it can overwhelm us too.

Having too much data could make it impossible to determine what is actually important. In investing that could stop you ever getting invested – or worse, making some ill-judged choices from using the wrong data. Focusing on the data that matters, and filtering out that which doesn’t, can make this more manageable.

We’re always looking for ways to help you make your own informed decisions to reach your investment goals. In the same way that a tennis player doesn’t have to be the best data analyst as they have teams that crunch the performance data, you can delegate the day-to-day investment management to investment experts and take the complexity out of investing to help you succeed, e.g. through Barclays Ready-made Investments.

This provides you with a simple way to build and maintain a diversified portfolio with global exposure, taking into account the level of risk that you are comfortable with. This multi-asset fund invests across a range of asset classes and regions, offering a globally diversified one-stop solution for investors.

Alternatively, if you want help navigating the data but wish to choose your own investments, the Barclays Funds List may help you to narrow down the wide range available to invest in. These funds are selected by Barclays investment specialists and, based on our research, they’re the funds that we believe have the potential to generate consistent returns over the medium to long term.

These funds are designed for the long term so you should only consider them if you can stay invested for at least five years.

All of these investments can fall in value as well rise; you may get back less than you invest.

These are our current opinions but the future, as ever, is uncertain and outcomes may differ.

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