There is an old saying, “Every storm runs out of rain.” This means things will eventually get better and, most of the time, it is the wise choice to continue following a well thought out, diversified financial plan even when it seems all is lost. Unfortunately, there are many in the financial industry who will prey on humans beings’ basic instincts to “just make the pain go away.” These salespeople receive commissions based on the amount of transactions their customers make. It is very easy to get someone to sell something in a state of panic. A market downturn of twenty percent or more (though fairly common, historically) provides great opportunities to generate commissions from terrified clients. One of the largest factors in generating wealth over the long-term is not what you do when things are going well, but how you react to market downturns. For example, in 2009 the S&P 500 hit a devilish low of 666 that March; basically, a once in a lifetime buying opportunity. Unfortunately, instead of staying the course and realizing a 150% return, by October of 2013, many “customers” were encouraged to put their money into various high-cost ,principal protecting products by salespeople who knew exactly what they were doing: Taking advantage of panic and denying their clients an opportunity to recoup their losses from a vicious bear market. A bet on the end of the world has never paid out ;and even if you win, you lose! The moral of this story is: Beware of people who prey on your fears. A good advisor will encourage you to do the most painful things: Buying when the world seems to be ending, and selling when the market seems like it could go to infinity. Every storm does run out of rain. If you do not believe this, you should not invest a dime in the market because no matter what time period an investor has been in, there have always been storm clouds on the horizon, and that shall forever be. Don’t let anyone take advantage of your fears because if you do, your worst investing fear will come true in the form of running out of money during your retirement.
Anthony is currently heading the Educator/403(b) Division at Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. The goal of our division is to transform the way teachers save for retirement. For disclosure information please see here.