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Focus on long-term horizons

May 2020

by Alex Brandreth

Time in the market, not timing the market

During this difficult time, fear and worry are understandable, particularly as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak led to the biggest daily drop in the FTSE 100 since the financial crisis of 1987. Trying to second-guess the impact of events such as the coronavirus or the recent stock market volatility – or even attempting to make a bet on them – rarely pays off. Instead, investors who focus on long-term horizons – at least five to ten years – have historically fared much better.

We all have different objectives in life and need different strategies to help achieve them. Sensible diversification – owning a mix of assets, including shares, bonds and alternative investments such as property – can help protect investors over the long term. When one area of a portfolio underperforms, another part should provide important protection.

Risk tolerance and time horizon

If you have a well-diversified portfolio, then it’s more important than ever to stay the course. You have a strategy in place that reflects your risk tolerance and time horizon, so remain committed. This will help you navigate through periods of uncertainty when some investors are panicking or acting out of fear. Volatility is not all bad, as long as you are prepared to take advantage of the unique opportunities it brings. In volatile markets, it is perfectly normal for investors to become nervous, question their investment approach and concentrate on the potential for short-term losses over their longer-term investment strategy. Be aware of the psychological effect this type of volatility has on you as an investor, and resist the urge to be reactive.

Proper diversification and perseverance

It’s important to understand that this movement is not all bad for investors. Some commentators may talk about volatility as a detriment to markets and investors, but fail to discuss the opportunities that arise for investors during periods of market volatility. No one knows how severe any market turbulence will be or what the markets will do next. It could be over quickly or become more protracted. However, no matter what lies ahead, proper diversification and perseverance over the long term are very important.

Ups and downs of different types of market conditions

It’s likely that the coronavirus will continue to have an impact on markets over the coming months and even years. However, major events causing markets to fall, particularly in the short term, is something we’ve seen time and time again. And it doesn’t mean that markets won’t recover. History shows again and again that the ups and downs of different types of market conditions are part and parcel of investing.

The key is to remain calm when stock markets fall. Don’t panic. Don’t frantically sell. If you can avoid it, don’t even log into your investment account. At moments like this, the skills and experience of professional financial advisers come into their own. Not only do we have the experience of dealing with different types of market conditions, but we can also help to take the emotion out of your decisions.
 
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Whatever your level of confidence, we could help you make better-informed investment decisions. If you would like to find out more or require any further information, please contact us.

 

The content in this publication is for your general information and use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. Articles should not be relied upon in their entirety and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, advice. Although endeavours have been made to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No individual or company should act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of their particular situation. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of any articles. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
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