The financial markets have seen increased volatility lately, marking their worst slide since the pandemic decline in March of 2020. (1) The S&P 500 at one point in January was down over 10%, which is officially called a “correction” on Wall Street. (2)
In addition to the stock market decline, inflation has been causing concerns. Because inflation is reaching 40-year highs, it is expected that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates in the spring, which could potentially slow the economy. (3)
Some may be understandably nervous about their investments and their purchasing power. If you are worried about your portfolio, you’re not alone. But during stock market volatility, it’s important to keep a level head to avoid financial mistakes and remember that these corrections during your working years allow you to buy more shares at a lower price.
At times like these, it’s important to put current conditions into perspective. This is not the first time the market has taken a tumble and it won’t be the last. Declines in the Dow Jones Industrial Average are actually fairly regular events. In fact, drops of 10% or more happen about once a year on average: (4)
Ride Out the Uncertainty Storm
It’s important to remember that the stock market dislikes uncertainty. Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the continued coronavirus pandemic, inflation, interest rate hikes, tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and earnings reports due out for several large technology companies.
With so much uncertainty, volatility over the past few weeks has been unusually high. The VIX, or the market volatility index, has recently reached its highest level in nearly a year. (5) As we gain clarity on each of these subjects, it is fairly likely that day-to-day market fluctuations will decrease.
There’s an old saying that the best thing to do when you meet a bear market is the same as if you were to meet a bear in the woods: play dead. While easier said than done, successful long-term investors know that it’s important to stay calm during a market correction. We don’t know yet whether the coronavirus fears will translate into further market volatility, but the risk always exists.
Market volatility has increased in recent years and the media can often make it seem like each episode is worse than the one before. In reality, volatility does not hurt investors, but selling when the market is down usually does and will lock in losses.
Remember That Your Portfolio Is Diversified
Fears about inflation, volatility, and market declines are stressful. However, it is important to keep in mind that while the stock market is down, your portfolio is made up of both stocks, bonds, and other assets that are designed to work together to decrease any overall temporary losses. It’s important to consider your specific portfolio, investment horizon, and circumstances when reflecting on economic events.
During these periods, we will look over the overall portfolio to determine if any tax loss harvesting can be done within your taxable accounts. Additionally, if the portfolio has drifted too far from our desired target allocation based on your risk tolerance, we will rebalance to buy the asset classes that are more underweighted.
Speak With Your Advisor
Whether you’re new to investing or an experienced investor, it’s helpful to consult with an objective third party. Human nature causes us all to act out of emotion when our accounts go down. As an independent firm, we put your best interests first. We seek to serve as a support system for our clients, helping them make informed financial decisions that aren’t driven solely by emotion.
We’re Here for Your Friends and Family
If you have friends or family who need help with their investments, we are happy to offer a complimentary portfolio review and recommendations. We can discuss what is appropriate for their immediate needs and long-term objectives. Sometimes simply speaking with a financial advisor may help investors feel more confident and less concerned with the day-to-day market activity.
Bryan Lee is the founder and president of Strategic Financial Planning, Inc., an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm. With more than 27 years of industry experience, Bryan uses a unique client-first financial life planning approach and process to help his clients get the most out of life. Bryan earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and his MBA in international finance from the University of North Texas. He is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
Bryan is actively involved in his community and industry and has served on the boards of several associations and charities, including the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, Family Services of Plano, the CITY House, and the Journal of Financial Planning. Bryan has been featured in local and national media, including The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, CNNfn, USA Today, SmartMoney, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Financial Planning Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and Dow Jones Newswires. And, he has been recognized as a Five Star Wealth Manager and one of Dallas’s Best Financial Planners in D Magazine every year since its inception and recently as a Top Wealth Manager. To learn more about Bryan, connect with him on LinkedIn.