When the markets fall, it can be intimidating for everyone — including your financial planner. As an individual, watching your account balances fall is stressful and, as a financial planner, we watch that happen to each of our clients. It’s hard to see our clients struggle.
I know how important security is to my clients, and I know they’ve worked hard for the money they’ve set aside in these accounts. But because this matters to my clients and their future, I also know how critical it is from them to stay invested and to trust the process.
I am always here for my clients, especially when they have concerns about their plan or the state of the markets. It can be an emotionally challenging time, which is why I always give my clients a few tips to help them “weather the storm.”
4 things I’ve learned about watching the markets fall
I’ve been through my fair share of market ups and downs. It’s great to be on an upswing and can be not-so-great to watch it go down. But over my years in financial planning, I’ve found that these 4 things have helped my clients (and myself) get through the fall.
1. Avoid television news.
First and foremost, I don’t recommend watching the news when the markets fall. Those stock market updates can make a somewhat bad situation seem dire and the news cycle is non-stop. News stations are paid on their viewership and they know that exaggerated headlines, dramatic music, and feeding into their viewers’ fears increase their ratings. Instead, I find that reading the news on trusted sources like the Wall Street Journal or my local newspaper, The Dallas Morning News, has helped take the emotion out of market changes and given me a better perspective on what is actually happening. Having more relevant information (rather than dramatic news stories) can help put the market into perspective so you can make better decisions.
2. Take control.
When the market falls, the best planners will give their clients a few ways to take a little control. I want my clients to use some of that anxious energy to do something productive — look at their budget, review their planning documents, and make sure their insurance information is up to date. None of this is going to fix the market, but it will help you tie up loose ends and make sure that you are tending to your financial plan.
3. Talk to your financial planner
Call your Certified Financial Planner™ if you have concerns about the market. Financial psychologists have found that having a financial planner can help people feel more confident especially in major market events. This person serves as the voice of reason and can be a great resource if you have questions. They can be sure to review your investments and talk through how the down market has impacted your financial plan, if at all.
4. Know the benefits of a down market
I say that down markets are really where wealth is made. That’s because it can provide a great opportunity to buy or sell to take advantage of “discounted” stocks. It’s also a time when many people are “jumping ship” on their investments, but market evaluations have proven that missing out on 10 days in a 20 year period can cost people half of their investment returns. Yes, half! On top of that, 6 of the 10 ten best days in the market occur within two weeks of the ten worst days. By staying the course, you’re making sure your accounts can take full advantage of those upswings!
Stay the course for long-term success (not short-term relief)
When the markets fall, I want my clients to call me and talk more about their portfolios and their plan. It is overwhelming seeing your account values fall and it’s my job to help my clients stick to their financial plan. When we create a financial plan together, we know there will be down markets and we plan for them. So when those down markets arrive, especially for people nearing retirement, we can look back at their plan and ask can ourselves “What was our plan?” It helps all of us remember that we planned for this, and now it’s time to work that plan.
It’s also important to not get caught up in the details; we’re not trying to figure out what one specific company is going to do. We’re focusing on the big picture and the plan that gets you where you want to go. And if we do decide to make changes to the plan, we do so with the facts (not the headlines) in mind. With my clients, I always make sure that we’re making evidence-based decisions rather than speculation-based decisions. That always gives my clients a better result.
At the end of the day, I know my clients fear the market going down, but I fear them not seeing the upside of it. So let’s weather the storm together so we can see all the great things that come on the other side of these downswings.
If you’re worried about the current state of the market or have questions, contact me! I never want my clients to feel bad or apologize for reaching out. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job and I’m always here to provide resources and reassurance.