As I was listening to Fed chair Janet Yellen’s testimony in front of Congress last week, I was intrigued by a tweet from Morgan Housel: “Go back to 2008 and tell people that in 2016 our biggest headwind would be low oil prices and a strong dollar. Economics is hard. Not in a “things are actually good today” way. But in mid-2008 surging oil prices and a falling dollar were a big headwind.”
As a Financial Advisor, I read every piece of economic data available to me and follow the thought processes of the top thinkers at virtually all the key financial institutions so I can carefully invest money on behalf of our clients.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: none of them, and none of us, have been given a roadmap to what the future holds. They can watch and study the relevant economic indicators, but they cannot predict the financial future with absolute certainty. We all live with uncertainty while trying to make the best decisions we can with the information available.
Given the certainty of uncertainty, what can individuals do to best prepare for their financial future?
With all of the speculation about the upcoming elections, questions about possible negative interest rates, and concerns about international instability, it’s easy to feel anxious about the potential effects on the economy and on your savings and investments. Particularly because the airwaves and the Internet are full of news reports, commentary, blogposts and Tweets about how volatile and risky the markets are.
One thing that is certain: there will always be volatility and risk in the markets. That’s what makes the stock market the stock market. Even if we are currently experiencing a bit more than just normal market volatility, remember that the markets have historically rebounded extremely well after corrections (which are considered a drop of at least 10%). Don’t take my word for it, take a look at the chart below:
These charts show 27 corrections of at least 10% or more since 1987. All of those corrections had one thing in common: they all rebounded with a bullish rally. What history has shown is that, over the long run, markets continue to move higher.
What does this mean for individual savers and investors? No matter your age or experience with financial planning and investments, there is one universal “must” that applies to everyone. You need a financial plan: a carefully thought-out, customized financial plan, not just something you downloaded from Google. Once you have that plan in place, the next steps are to implement it, then put your head down and trust in that plan.
This current market in particular highlights the importance of having a financial plan that is both age-appropriate and risk-adjusted to your specific financial situation, goals, and needs. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, for instance, the correction we’re experiencing is a great opportunity. Why? Because you have the luxury of time on your side. With the market currently down significantly from where it was a year ago, this is a great time to implement a dollar cost averaging strategy and start saving and investing on a consistent basis.
One of the things that differentiates us at Sherman Wealth, however, is that we believe that no two people are alike and that everyone’s investment strategy and portfolio should be customized to suit his or her individual situation, needs, and goals. We get to know each client – or potential client – so we can analyze their actual risk tolerance in a holistic way, rather than just plugging their age and one or two other factors into a simple, one-size-fits all algorithm the way some of the Robo-Advisor platforms do. Then we create a plan that is designed to work for our clients.
I can’t tell you what the market is going to do tomorrow or six months from now – no one can. But with a well-thought-out financial plan – one that takes into consideration who you are now, where you want to be, and how much risk you can tolerate – you will feel much more confident about your own strategy and less likely to panic about what the next crazy pundit to pop up on the internet has to say.