Monday Morning Minute

I hope you had a great weekend! And today is: National Clean Out Your Computer Day! Check out the link in the prior sentence for advice on how to clean out your computer.

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “A Return To Volatile Markets: Here’s What You Should Know” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Charles Schwab & Co. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

It was eventually going to happen, right? Markets can’t go straight up forever! This past week featured a return to fast-moving, volatile markets. What should you do when markets are like this? See what the experts from Schwab advise below.

Have a wonderful week!

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A Return To Volatile Markets: Here’s What You Should Know

 
By Schwab Center For Financial Research

Bouts of market volatility are an unnerving, but normal, feature of long-term investing. Since 2000, the S&P 500® index has experienced 12 “corrections” — when it sank anywhere between 5% and 20% — and two “bear markets,” during which it lost 20% or more. They’re not fun, but you can expect to see market declines periodically throughout your investing career. Our investing principles don’t change when the market is down, and yours shouldn’t either.

But it’s hard to sit still when the market is sliding. You can’t help but think: “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” Every investor is different, but here are a few steps that everyone should consider. During volatile markets:

Resist the urge to sell based solely on recent market movements

Selling stocks when markets drop can make temporary losses permanent. Staying the course, while difficult emotionally, may be healthier for your portfolio. This doesn’t mean you should hold on blindly, but we suggest taking into account an investment’s future prospects and the role it plays in your portfolio, rather than being guided by noise and fear.

Adapt your trading to fast-moving markets

If you must trade during volatile markets, take current conditions into account when entering orders. There are defensive steps you can take to protect an unrealized gain or limit potential losses on an existing position, such as stop orders and stop-limit orders. These can help give you more confidence when markets are volatile.

Take the long view

Markets typically go up and down, and you’re likely to experience several significant declines during a long investing career. But even bear markets — that is, periods when the market fell by more than 20% for longer than two months — historically have been relatively short. The Schwab Center for Financial Research looked at both bull and bear markets, based on the S&P 500 Index, going back to 1966, and found that the average bear market lasted a little longer than a year. The longest of the bears was a little less than three years, and it was followed by a nearly five-year bull run. Timing the market’s ups and downs is nearly impossible, but all investors would do well to ignore the noise that comes with volatile markets and stay focused on their plans.

Review your risk tolerance

Some investors learn the hard way that they aren’t as willing to face a sharp drop in the value of their portfolios as they had assumed. Similarly, risk you took on years ago may no longer make sense given your current situation and life stage. An aggressive allocation has historically gained more over time but at the price of greater volatility — which can be especially risky if you don’t have much time to recover. Market downturns sometimes can be a wake-up call to consider adjusting your target asset allocation.

Make sure you have a diversified portfolio

Volatile markets also can reveal that portfolios their owners thought were appropriately diversified in fact aren’t. If you haven’t looked at your portfolio recently to make sure you understand what each asset class is doing and that the mix matches your target asset allocation, now is a good time to become reacquainted with it.

Consider including defensive assets for stability

Defensive assets, such as cash and bonds, can help stabilize a portfolio when stocks are slipping. Also, if you expect to spend from your portfolio within the next few years, it’s a good idea to hold those funds in assets that historically have been relatively liquid and less volatile than stocks, such as cash and short-term bonds. This can help you avoid having to sell in a down market.

Rebalance your portfolio as needed

Volatile markets can skew your allocation from its original target. Over time, assets that have gained in value will account for more of your portfolio, while those that have declined will account for less. Rebalancing means selling positions that have become overweight in relation to the rest of your portfolio and moving the proceeds to positions that have become underweight. It’s a good idea to do this at regular intervals.

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About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC  

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, a plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Additional Important Disclosures

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Supporting documentation for any claims or statistical information is available upon request. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed-income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors. Lower-rated securities are subject to greater credit risk, default risk and liquidity risk. Diversification and rebalancing a portfolio cannot assure a profit or protect against a loss in any given market environment. Rebalancing may cause investors to incur transaction costs and, when rebalancing a non-retirement account, taxable events may be created that may affect your tax liability. The S&P 500 Index is a market-capitalization-weighted index comprising 500 widely traded stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses and cannot be invested in directly. The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.