Another day, another circuit breaker.
So, remember all those times we’ve said that investment risks and expected rewards are related?
Coronavirus-fueled fears, driving economic insecurities, aggravating a host of simmering global sore spots, spiraling into stomach-wrenching market sell-offs …
Be it confirmed. Today’s unfolding news is the realization of those risks we’ve been talking about all along.
In case you’ve forgotten – or never experienced – what investment risk feels like, we reach out to you today with three encouraging thoughts, to help you face any challenges ahead.
- For Real: Risks DO Drive Expected Returns
First, be assured, our advice on how to invest during volatile markets remains the same:
As a train needs its engine to move, markets require risks to drive them onward and upward.
Rather than spending too much time tracking passing headlines or watching every market move, consider reading a good book. For example, there’s Ben Carlson’s recently released “Don’t Fall For It: A Short History of Financial Scams.”
Carlson describes how the U.S. stock market (the S&P 500) has delivered a satisfying 9.5% annual return from 1928–2008. But during that time, there were only 3 years when returns hovered tamely between 9%–11%. Usually, annual returns deviated wildly from their norm.
So, yes, markets are risky. But here’s the reward to be expected in return: Most years (66 out of 91), steadfast investors earned positive returns, usually in the double-digits. Carlson concluded:
“Every successful investor must understand there is a sacred relationship between risk and reward. There is no proven way to earn a high return on your capital without taking some form of risk nor is it possible to completely extinguish risk from your investments.”
- Preparation Beats Panic
It’s one thing to embrace abstract risk. It’s quite another to endure it for real. So, second, remember this:
You have never been more prepared than you are today for whatever happens next.
In other words, if you’re worrying that NOW is the time to do something about the markets, consider what we’ve already been doing all along.
We’ve already been helping you identify the right balance between your willingness, ability, and need to tolerate risks. We’ve already been working with you to create your own investment plan, with your assets allocated accordingly. We’ve already been building and managing your evidence-based, globally diversified portfolio to capture the market’s long-term expected returns.
In other words, you’re not only already “doing something,” that “something” is expected to remain your best strategy for riding out any bad news to come.
- In the Face of Market Risks, We Have Your Back
Now that investment risks are being realized, you may also be realizing your risk tolerance isn’t what you thought it would be. No shame, no blame. How could you have known in theory what your tolerances are for real? If you’re second-guessing yourself today, there are two possibilities:
You may be right. You may not be cut out financially and/or emotionally to withstand sustained risks to your investments. If this is the case, let’s revisit your plans, and talk about how to prudently adjust your risk exposures without sacrificing too many of your financial goals.
You may be wrong. It’s possible you are experiencing blind spot bias. That is, while we can often see when someone else is succumbing to an ill-advised behavior, such as fear or risk aversion, we often cannot see it when we’re experiencing it ourselves. Carlson addressed blind spot bias in his book. He pointed to research that has suggested, even once you know you have a blind spot, you still may not be able to overcome all the damaging biases you’re still not seeing.
What AMDG Financial Is Doing for Clients Right Now
Since we can’t predict the future, our strategy — as always — is not to try to time the market. Instead, we’re focusing on what we can control. Except in cases where we have received specific direction, we are taking several steps to help our clients ride out this period of volatility:
- For some clients, we are encouraging the acceleration of IRA contributions, and making Roth conversions on their behalf.
- For most clients, we are rebalancing portfolios and will continue to review accounts periodically. If necessary, we may rebalance more than once.
- As a result of rebalancing, some clients will likely be in a position to take advantage of tax-loss harvesting. (Tax loss harvesting involves selling a security that has lost value, and using the loss to offset capital gains taxes.) We will help you take advantage of any opportunities in this area.
Remember, each client’s situation is different, so while these steps generally describe what we’re doing, our actions may vary depending on your portfolio, time horizon, and risk tolerance.
Interpreting new information and guiding you to the appropriate action are two of the primary reasons you’ve engaged us as your fiduciary financial adviser. If the breaking news is leaving you feeling strained to a breaking point, here’s one fast action we recommend: Please be in touch with us immediately. Together, we’ll take an objective look at your thoughts, hopes, and fears. Together, we’ll continue to chart a sensible course forward.