The next several weeks are going to be challenging for advisors and investors. The reality of the scope and severity of the pandemic along with the associated economic and market damage will hit home raising fear levels to new highs. In these times, it will be hard not to overreact, panic or lose hope. Strong emotions and behavioral biases including, anchoring, loss aversion, cascading and availability bias can cloud our thinking and lead to poor decision making. Engaging in realistic and practical planning discussions along with relevant behavioral coaching can provide essential support during these challenging times.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as markets had several positive days. Don’t be surprised, however, if markets drop suddenly and test or breach previous lows several times over the next few weeks or months. Much like flying through a thunderstorm, there are likely to be some bumpy times ahead. No matter how many times you have flown, your heart jumps every time the aircraft drops. Fortunately, there is no need to time the bottom for long-term investors.
One of the biggest challenges for investors is staying invested as markets sell off. Every up and down swing creates strong emotional reactions and constant second guessing. Periods of high volatility can last for weeks or months and are emotionally draining. While it may feel like you are doing nothing by staying invested during these periods, you are likely avoiding costly mistakes by not compounding an already difficult situation.
Beneficial long-term decisions often feel counter-intuitive at the time, but don’t underestimate the value of a steady hand when things seem the most grim.
It’s only natural for someone invested in a poorly performing active equity mutual fund to wonder if it’s time to make a change. Should an investor sell a fund if it trails its benchmark for a year? Three years? Five years?
Investment time horizon is a critical concept in building wealth. Most investors have very long investment time horizons, typically decades or more.
We are experiencing a new peak in the rhetoric around trade, geo-politics, the economy and the business cycle. We have also seen increased market volatility.
“Now’s not a good time to invest,” or “I’m waiting for the right conditions” are familiar refrains we hear from investors and advisors alike. Fortunately for long-term investors who don’t take regular withdrawals from their portfolios, the sequence of returns doesn’t affect the ultimate investment outcome.
Investors, economists and the media spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to forecast the economy. The idea is that forecasting economic growth will give us an idea of where the stock market is headed. Surprisingly, no predictive relationship exists between current economic conditions and the current stock market.
With the recent market decline, increased volatility and the deafening media noise, it can be easy to lose track of the basics. Remember, recent activity doesn’t tell us much about market returns.