By Eric Chetwood, CFP®
After a three-year rally, the financial markets were down for seven straight days in January, marking their worst slide since the pandemic decline in March of 2020. (1) The market dip on Monday, January 24th put the S&P 500 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)
Even though the markets have rallied since then, Investors are 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.
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 markets dislike 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 right now is extreme. The VIX, or the market volatility index, recently hit its highest level in nearly a year. (5) As we get more information, it is 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 an official correction, 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 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 overall losses. It’s important to consider your specific portfolio, investment horizon, and circumstances when reflecting on economic events. If you have questions about your portfolio, get in touch with our office.
Review Your Financial Plan
The goal of your financial plan is to guide you to financial freedom, getting you to your goals. But the markets, and your life, are full of changes. If you don’t review your plan regularly, it can easily get off track. We believe a good financial plan should give you a detailed, complete view of your current financial situation, a thorough modeling of where you want to be, and the actions you need to take to reach those goals. If your plan no longer fits your goals, you need to adjust, and if your investments no longer align with your risk tolerance, you need to rebalance. Don’t let market volatility throw off your progress to your ideal future.
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.
To get started, schedule a complimentary introductory meeting online or reach out to us at email@example.com or (919) 287-5660.
Eric Chetwood is managing partner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional at Adams Chetwood Wealth Management Group, a faith-based Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm located in Durham, North Carolina. Eric graduated from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has been on the Adams Chetwood team for over 15 years. Eric spends his days helping clients with comprehensive financial planning and portfolio construction and helping them navigate the opportunities and challenges of each stage of life. Away from the office, Eric enjoys effecting change in the local community. He was chosen to participate in the 2007 Leadership Durham program and the 2009 Leadership Triangle program. Currently, Eric serves as a directional Elder at the Summit Church. He also serves on the board of directors for the NC Study Center at UNC-CH and previously served on the board of Samaritan Health Center, an organization that provides medical care to uninsured and low-income families in Durham. He and his wife, Allison, have two sons, and are passionate about adoption advocacy as well as leveraging their gifts and resources to alleviate physical and spiritual poverty through microfinance and social businesses. To learn more about Eric, connect with him on LinkedIn.