Investing guidelines for changing times

Published 1:06 pm Friday, January 30, 2009

One thing remains certain when investing—uncertainty.

It’s what makes investing so difficult emotionally. While the long-term performance of equity markets has historically been a steady up trend, short-term direction is always unpredictable. Amid all of this misgiving about the market’s course, what should investors do?

Here are some suggestions:

Email newsletter signup

Stay balanced

Build a well-diversified portfolio where different sectors will complement each other and may not always move in the same direction at the same time. It should comprise cash equivalents, bonds, equities, and real estate and tangibles. Your financial adviser will help determine how much weighting to give each category and how to sub-allocate within each given an individual’s time horizon and risk tolerance.

Reassess risk tolerance

Amid market turmoil, investors may realize that they don’t quite have the stomach for stock market volatility they thought. Upon discovering risk tolerance is much lower than imagined, move incrementally toward a more appropriate investment mix. Not everyone can withstand extreme stock market volatility, and shouldn’t have to. A well-diversified portfolio generally helps to offset instability and can put investors on the path toward achieving financial goals.

Count cash – liquidity is key

In the event of a market downturn, investors should determine how long they could go without selling stocks, considering income, pension, Social Security and cash and bond holdings. This exercise can help bring the market’s short-term swings back into perspective and help re-focus long-term goals.

Keep a diary

Consider keeping an investing diary. Investors sometimes suffer from selective memory. They may remember thoughts of selling stocks right before a market downturn, but forget that they had that same thought many other times prior to the market’s rise. By keeping a diary, investors can see how often their instincts may be wrong.

Take advice from a financial coach

People have advisers for various aspects of their life, whether religion, athletics, tax or legal, among others. However, investing is one of the most difficult activities many ever undertake.

Seek the advice of a qualified financial adviser for coaching through the ups and downs of the emotional investing roller coaster and remain focused on long-term goals.