For investors, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the relentless stream of news about markets. Being bombarded with data and headlines presented as affecting your financial well-being can evoke strong emotional responses from even the most experienced investors. Headlines from the so-called lost decade–the 2000s, when the S&P 500 ended below where it began–can help illustrate several periods that may have led market participants to question their approach.
- March 2000:
Nasdaq Stock Exchange Index Reaches an All‑Time High of 5048
- April 2000:
In Less Than a Month, Nearly a Trillion Dollars of Stock Value Evaporates
- October 2002:
Nasdaq Hits a Bear-Market Low of 1114
- September 2005:
Home Prices Post Record Gains
- September 2008:
Lehman Files for Bankruptcy, Merrill Is Sold
While these events are more than a decade behind us, they can still serve as an important reminder for investors. For many, feelings of elation or despair can accompany headlines like these. We should remember that markets can be volatile and recognize that, in the moment, doing nothing may feel paralyzing. However, if one had hypothetically invested $10,000 in US stocks in January 2000 and stayed invested, that would be worth approximately $38,400 at the end of 2020.1
When faced with short-term noise, it is easy to lose sight of the potential long-term benefits of staying invested. While no one has a crystal ball, adopting a long-term perspective can help change how investors view market volatility and help them look beyond the headlines.
Hypothetical Growth of Wealth in the S&P 500 Index
January 1, 2000–December 31, 2020
Part of being able to avoid giving in to emotion during periods of uncertainty is having an appropriate asset allocation that is aligned with an investor’s willingness and ability to bear risk. It also helps to remember that if returns were guaranteed, you would not expect to earn a premium. Creating a portfolio investors are comfortable with, understanding that uncertainty is a part of investing, and sticking to a plan may ultimately lead to a better investment experience.
However, as with many aspects of life, we can all benefit from a bit of help in reaching our goals. The best athletes in the world work closely with a coach to increase their odds of winning, and many successful professionals rely on the assistance of a mentor or career coach to help them manage the obstacles that arise during a career. Why? They understand that the wisdom of an experienced professional, combined with the discipline to forge ahead during challenging times, can keep them on the right track. The right financial advisor can play this vital role for an investor. A financial advisor can provide the expertise, perspective, and encouragement to keep you focused on your destination and in your seat when it matters most. A survey conducted by Dimensional Fund Advisors found that, along with progress towards their goals, investors place a high value on the sense of security they receive from their relationship with a financial advisor, as Exhibit 2 shows.
Having a strong relationship with an advisor can help you be better prepared to live your life through the ups and downs of the market. That’s the value of discipline, perspective, and calm. That’s the difference the right financial advisor makes.
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