As broad market indices such as the S&P 500 have set new record highs in recent weeks, many investors have become apprehensive. They fear another major decline is likely to occur and are eager to find strategies that promise to avoid the pain of an extended downturn while preserving the opportunity to profit in up markets.

A successful timing strategy is the fountain of youth of the investment world. For decades, financial researchers have explored dozens of quantitative indicators as well as various measures of investor sentiment in an effort to discover the ones with predictive value. The performance record of professional money managers over the past 50 years offers compelling evidence that this effort has failed.

Despite this evidence, the potential rewards of successful market timing are so great that each new generation sees a fresh group of market participants eager to try. Searching for the key to outwitting other investors may be fun for those with a sense of adventure and time on their hands. For those seeking the highest probability of a successful investment experience, maintaining a consistent allocation strategy is likely to be the sounder choice.

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