One of my favourite songs is, ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Queen, arguably one of the best bands ever. How apt the opening lines sound now. With lockdown, we bunkered down on the 11th of March, a little earlier than the national lockdown came into force, and I wont lie and pretend its been plain sailing. Having two children home schooling and trying to run our businesses from home at the same time has been quite a challenge, but the overriding feeling has been and still is that the show must go on…
Emotionally this might just be the toughest period that we all have to go through. Every day is a new challenge. But as we all know, we can’t just sit and stare at the walls and feel sorry for ourselves.
All of us will have had different emotional barriers to face. They might be the feeling of confinement and reduced work capabilities; they might be a feeling of panic and anxiety trying to deal with the unknown situation we are in; they could be dealing directly with this virus, either having caught it themselves or having a loved one infected.
It doesn’t matter what the factor is, it’s guaranteed that we have all been dealing with emotions far more during the last 8/9 weeks than we have ever had.
On top of dealing with our own family’s emotions, I am having daily conversations with my clients about their investments during this period and the emotional impact it is having. All it takes is to watch the news channel to clearly see how volatile the markets have been. This is an additional emotional crisis for some, particularly if they aren’t experienced investors.
All my clients will know that I talk a lot about the different hats you need to wear when investing in the markets. There is the investment hat and the emotional hat. The investment hat is the exciting one that drives your investment decisions; the emotional hat is the one that pulls you back a little and makes you consider your choices. In my opinion the emotional hat is the most important one. It only lets you make decisions that you are happy with and have thought through.
Here are my top tips for dealing with the emotional side of investing; hopefully it will help steer you through the coming weeks.
The rational, irrational and emotional struggle
It is a challenge to look beyond the short-term variances and focus on the long-term averages.
The greatest challenge may be in deciding to stay invested during a volatile market and a time of low consumer confidence. History has shown us that it is important to stay invested in good and bad market environments.
During periods of high consumer confidence stock prices peak and during periods of low consumer confidence stock prices can come under pressure. Historically, returns trended in the opposite direction of past consumer confidence data. When confidence is low it has been the time to buy or hold.
Of course, no one can predict the bottom or guarantee future returns. But as history has shown, the best decision may be to stay invested even during volatile markets.
Declines may present opportunities
An emotional roller coaster ride is especially nerve-racking during a decline. However, the best opportunity to make money may be when stock prices are low. Buying low and selling high has always been one of the basic rules of investing and building wealth. Yet during these emotional and challenging times it is easy to be fearful and/or negative, so let’s turn to the wise advice of one of the world’s best investors, the late Sir John Templeton:
“Don’t be fearful or negative too often. For 100 years optimists have carried the day in U.S. stocks. Even in the dark ’70s, many professional money managers—and many individual investors too—made money in stocks, especially those of smaller companies…There will, of course, be corrections, perhaps even crashes. But, over time, our studies indicate stocks do go up, up and up”.
Watching from the sidelines may cost you
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash.
But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns.
Euro / Dollar cost averaging makes it easier to cope with volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?”
Euro / Dollar cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, Euro / Dollar cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, and over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share. Euro / Dollar cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in a declining market.
Now may be a great time for a portfolio check up
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with me to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together we can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.
Tune out the noise and gain a longer-term perspective
Numerous television stations and websites are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications and websites to count. While the media provide a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time. Interestingly, while stocks may be more volatile, they’ve still outperformed income-oriented investments (such as bonds) over longer time periods.
Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you may begin doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals. To keep from falling into this trap, call me before making any changes to your portfolio.
So that’s my tips for fighting your way through the emotional impact of investing. I hope it is beneficial to you. The main point to take away from this is that THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
Stay calm, stay invested, don’t make crazy rash decisions and in a short time, this will be a blip in the past. If you want to discuss the risk element or have a second opinion on your investments, I am happy to conduct an initial consultation and present any recommendations free of charge. You can get in touch using the contact details below.
Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow.