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Five strategies for navigating a down market

May 13, 2022
Empower Insights

Making investment decisions during periods of market volatility

Like many Americans, you may be wondering why the stock market is down right now.

“A confluence of factors — slowing GDP growth, an aggressive Fed, rising interest rates and inflation — has caught the stock market’s attention,” says Tom Nun, Empower portfolio strategist.

And although the disappointing news might be that market volatility like this tends to cluster, not unlike aftershocks that follow an earthquake, the good news is that your actions, not the stock market itself, can have the biggest impact on whether or not you reach your financial goals.

But we get it. When stocks are tumbling and the market is down, the temptation to do something can be overwhelming. Here are a few strategies you may want to consider when the market has you a little worried.

1. REMAIN CALM

Human beings are hard-wired to react quickly in stressful situations. But even when things look bleak and the headlines aren’t kind, you don’t have to immediately sound the alarm and sell your investments. Temporary commotion in the stock market shouldn’t change the way you save, invest and prepare for your future. Markets can be incredibly resilient.

“Markets might remain volatile for a while,” says Nun. “But our view is that those who avoid making fearful or emotional decisions are often the ones who are most successful at navigating the volatility.”

2. ASSESS THE BIG PICTURE

In general, your investment strategy should be based on your risk tolerance, time horizon and personal standing. 

“If you have a long investment horizon, and can afford to be patient, history suggests you’re likely to recover when the volatility subsides,” says Nun.

So instead of asking yourself, “is this a good time to be invested in the market?”, try asking yourself “is my investment horizon long enough to overcome this?”

Also, keep in mind market shifts in pricing — both in positive and negative directions — are natural occurrences, with upside volatility potentially generating better returns. The largest upward movements in stock prices can often come off the bottom of the market. That’s why it’s important to consider not exiting at the first sign of trouble. Otherwise, you could lose the opportunity to benefit from the market’s strongest days.

3. DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR ASSET ALLOCATION PLAN

Diversifying your money across different kinds of investments (like stocks and bonds) can help you weather ups and downs and provide balance against a fluctuating stock market. Although one component might face pressure, it’s the other part of your portfolio that you hope is functioning as a buffer. That’s the beauty of a balanced portfolio.

Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

4. THINK ABOUT CONSOLIDATING ACCOUNTS

Keeping track of multiple accounts (like old 401(k)s and IRAs) is tricky no matter what’s going on with the market. When things get volatile, think about consolidating into a single account (if possible or permitted) so you can get a complete picture of how your money is allocated.

Consider all your options and their features and fees before moving money between accounts.

5. GO WITH A PRO

Investing can be challenging — and you don’t have to do it alone. A financial advisor can help you develop a personalized strategy, guide you along your journey, and keep you on a sturdy path in moments of instability.

You might have access to advisors through your employer-sponsored retirement plan, but if you don’t, ask for recommendations from friends or perform an online search.

As you’re narrowing down your search, make sure to compare each advisor’s credentials, specialty areas and fees, and then meet with your top choices to assess their personality and approach.

The bottom line about market volatility

As a rule of thumb, it is time in the market, not timing the market, that can have a huge impact on your potential outcomes. During stretches of volatility, which may include a period of turbulence followed by a rebound, long-term investors may profit the most by ultimately staying the course. The price of missing the market’s best cycles can end up being more costly than avoiding its worst cycles. 

The research, views and opinions contained in these materials are intended to be educational; may not be suitable for all investors; and are not tax, legal, accounting or investment advice

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