I began my career in the financial services industry in 1979. Since then I have guided clients through a myriad of economic peaks and valleys.
Over the years, it’s felt like a bumpy escalator ride on the economic road to prosperity. But with onset of the Covid-19 crisis, it feels more like an elevator ride straight down.
While in free fall, it’s difficult to remain calm and level headed. But based on experience, I firmly believe this is not the time to be making major investment decisions.
Just last month, I was greeting friends with a handshake. Now I’m keeping my social distance and not getting close enough for a friendly elbow bump.
In years past when I felt the stress of a financial downturn and couldn’t sleep, I would get up and turn on the television. Late night television ads were often about gold, which was supposed to be the ideal hedge against a downturn.
But gold has done poorly during this current downturn. Who would have ever guessed that you’d be better off keeping rolls of toilet paper in your pantry rather than gold in your safe?
On the way down, there’s never a whistle to indicate we’ve hit the bottom. Nor will there be a starter’s pistol declaring we’re off to the races. However, there is a high probability that we’ll be in a recession when we get through this situation.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m confident that we’ll rebound, although it may be a bumpy and erratic ride. That’s just the way investments tend to function.
This is the sixth time in my career that I’ve helped guide clients through a downturn. So this particular one shouldn’t shock or surprise anybody. They’ve been popping up periodically throughout history.
When someone retires in their late 50s or 60s, I remind them that, due to the new longevity expectations, they’re likely to experience two or three severe downturns during their retirement.
When I design their financial blueprints, these probable future downturns are part of the building process. I am neither a Pollyanna optimist nor an abject pessimist. Prudent planning requires looking ahead realistically.
Without a doubt, we’re in one of those downturns. That means fighting the temptation to let emotion take over and abandoning a well-planned retirement strategy. After experiencing and working through five previous downturns, I believe it’s not the time to abandon your plans.
At some point, kids will return to school, restaurants will reopen, jets will be seen in the sky, and we will attend sporting events and munch on popcorn at the movies again.
I firmly believe those that keep their financial wits about them will be rewarded for their patience, perseverance and iron stomachs. As investors, we need to take a deep breath. We’re in the midst of troubling times fueled by a health crisis.
Eventually there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Once we get through this and have some semblance of stability, that’s the time to reassess your portfolio. Try to avoid making decisions during such times of stress.
As a result of current events I postponed my March 28 book signing at Barnes and Noble. However, “A Thought for Your Pennies” can be ordered through Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.