By Rick Hellberg, ChFC®, CLU® and Michael Diaz
The uncertainty of the last couple years just won’t quit. Not knowing what’s around the corner can be unsettling—or downright scary. In fact, billionaire and founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, said, “Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all.” Most of us dislike this level of uncertainty (talk about an understatement!), but the market dislikes it even more.
Case in point: the Dow recently experienced 8 weeks of consecutive losses this year, and the S&P 500 tallied 7 weeks of losses. (1) As a result, many economic leaders are predicting a recession in our near future. (2) We can point to many factors as the cause of our recent nail biting: rampant inflation, the Fed’s solution of increasing interest rates, and international unrest. The fact remains that we have no control over any of that.
For better or worse, whatever our markets decide to do, we at PeterAlexander want to help you take a deep breath and walk through it. Here’s how we’re watching over your finances and taking proactive steps to help safeguard your wealth.
We don’t make investment decisions based on what everyone else is doing or what’s popular in the investment industry. Whenever we make planning decisions with you and offer investment recommendations, we do it with your goals at the forefront. When the markets get shaky, we go the extra step of reviewing your objectives to make sure you’re still on track and make educated decisions that are not based on panic or emotion.
This starts from the very beginning of our relationship with you. We use conservative return numbers when analyzing the potential outcomes of your plan because we know that corrections and bear markets will come again. We also use asset allocation “buckets” that divide your wealth into short, intermediate, and long-term strategies to help you make the most of a volatile market.
And in times like this, it’s even more important to have an emergency fund or a percentage of your portfolio that is either in cash or liquid enough if you need it for unexpected circumstances. While cash investments may not provide a lot of growth, having a cash contingency fund with at least one year’s worth of living expenses will protect you against having to sell investments at low values to free up cash.
We Know Your Risk Tolerance
Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you make a decision that was too risky for your comfort? Our goal is to help you avoid that feeling when it comes to your investments. Before investing any of your money, we determine your risk tolerance, the amount of risk that an investor is comfortable taking or the degree of uncertainty that an investor can handle. Like most things in life, your risk tolerance may change with age, income, and financial goals. We don’t want you to lose sleep at night, so we review your risk tolerance and how much risk you can afford to take and adjust your investments over time.
Beyond Basic Diversification
We’ve all heard about the importance of diversification when it comes to maximizing our investments. But diversification should involve more than just maintaining a balance between stocks and bonds, especially when traditional investments are volatile.
There are many alternative investments, but some of the most common include real estate, private real estate investment trusts (REITs), private equity, hedge funds, and precious metals (either directly or as an underlying asset in an exchange-traded fund). In general, the point of an alternative investment is that it behaves differently than stocks and bonds, which adds value to your portfolio by acting as a diversifier. We can help you add alternative investments to your portfolio, spreading out your risk even further.
During bear markets, it’s important to remember that investors only realize losses when they sell, so it’s critical not to sell when the market is down. When you need to access your money is an important factor in avoiding those losses. For example, if you are a decade or more away from retirement, you can likely wait out a recession or correction and benefit from the recovery. If you need access to your funds in the next five years or are within your first five years of retirement (frequently known as the “fragile decade”), (3) a recession will make more of an impact on your money and your plans.
From a practical perspective, we make sure your portfolio’s allocation is set up with your time horizon in mind. If you need money in the short term, your portfolio will hold safe investments like cash or short-term bonds. Because retirement can last decades, you still want some of your money in investments that will produce long-term growth, but your portfolio will look very different from that of a 40-year-old in the peak of their working years.
We Are Your Emotional Support System
If the market is wreaking havoc on your finances, avoiding emotional investment decisions is easier said than done. A declining market is no fun for most investors and even seasoned pros are not immune to concern. The key is to maintain your investor discipline and remember that enduring periodic declines are the price we pay for potentially better investment returns over time.
Keep in mind that bear markets have happened before—and they will happen again. If you’ve created a disciplined financial plan and have a trusted advisor monitoring your money, you’re doing your part to prepare. But do you need someone to turn to when the market gets wild?
We at PeterAlexander serve our clients with comprehensive financial services so they can be empowered to make sound financial decisions no matter the circumstances. We would love to support you as we work together to help build your finances for a strong future, putting you first every step of the way. If you’re ready to stop stressing and get back to what matters most to you, reach out to us at 610.940.1441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Hellberg is president and CEO of PeterAlexander, a financial planning firm founded in 1991. Rick is passionate about providing quality, objective financial solutions so his clients can pursue their financial goals and create the legacy they desire. He strives to equip his clients with comprehensive financial services and advice so they can be empowered to make sound financial decisions. The plans Rick and his team develop help their clients to reduce their taxes, educate their children, fund their retirements, pass their businesses on at fair value, and create programs to attract and retain valuable employees, all so that they can focus on what matters most to them. Rick has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Penn State, along with the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) certifications. He has spent over 40 years working with successful individuals and designs tailored solutions to meet his clients’ unique needs.
Rick resides in Philadelphia with his lovely wife, Lisa, and their two Shiloh Shepherds, Bentley and Winston. He is also the very proud father of two wonderful young men, Peter and Alex. In 2010, Rick ran for Congress in the 2nd District of Pennsylvania and has stayed active in local politics. To learn more about Rick, connect with him on LinkedIn.
Michael Diaz is a financial advisor at PeterAlexander with over 15 years of industry experience. Michael is passionate about helping people overcome financial challenges and avoid potential pitfalls so they can focus their time and energy on the most important things in their life. He spends his days working with successful business owners and families, implementing investment and tax reduction strategies to maximize their wealth. Michael’s goal is to help protect his clients’ financial security, putting them first and helping them navigate every stage in their financial journey. Michael earned his Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Engineering from Drexel University. When he’s not working, you can find Michael traveling, cheering on local sports teams, and exercising outdoors. Michael loves spending time with his wife, Abby, and their baby girl, Monroe. To learn more about Michael, connect with him on LinkedIn.