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Even the most seasoned of investors become uneasy when the markets fall and September 2020 has seen quite a deep sell-off after the extended recovery from the bottom of the markets in March. Tech stocks overheated and have now returned to more reasonable valuation levels but should this September correction concern you and what lies ahead?
Many investors have short memories and are often influenced one way or the other by recent events as opposed to focusing on the longer term picture which every investor knows deep down, is the pragmatic approach and the key to successful returns. Market sentiment is often infectious and the sheep will follow the bears or they will cling to the tails of the bulls. Not something Warren Buffet would subscribe to! Successful investment strategies are achieved by looking at the long-term of multiple years, not what has happened in the last 12 months or what they are anticipating might happen in the next few months like the effects of a US election.
History tells us that for the vast majority of the time, US elections do not have any great effects on stock market returns in those respective years. Therefore do not allow the timing of the election to have a big sway on your decisions to invest in your long-term goals because you don’t stand to gain much by waiting for the election to conclude.
If you camp with the bears, check your portfolio risk and ensure you have some exposure to more defensive assets like cash or bonds but don’t eliminate your investment in stock-based assets like mutual funds, ETF’s and direct shares in companies. Your cash and bond exposure could be a counterweight to your retained positions in equity-based investments which should always represent a percentage of your portfolio.
The key during any periods of stock market volatility is to remain disciplined, do not panic, and constantly remind yourself of your long-term goals. Don’t lose sleep over how the stock markets might perform over the next 6-12 months and keep focused on that goal of a comfortable retirement or the best college for your kid’s education.
However if you have reasons to need access to capital in the short-term, remember that typically, bear markets tend to last about 2 years so if you need liquidity within that timeframe, your best bet is to adopt cash positions as there may not be sufficient time for risk-based assets to fully recover.
Have you checked the risk level in your portfolio recently? Does it need rebalancing? Talk to your investment adviser and check if your positioning is right for you and your long-term goals.