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Are you thinking short term or long term?

All we can read and hear about right now is Coronavirus. The media feeds on bad news and right now Coronavirus is just that.


The spread of this shock news has panicked investors and wiped 3.6 trillion dollars off the US stock market value. The S&P 500 Index fell 12.5% per cent in 3 days and the Dow Jones Index suffered its worst ever one day point drop in history. The VIX index(which represents the markets expectation of 30 day forward looking volatility), also known as the “fear index”, rose from its mean reading over the last 5 years of 15 to a high of 50.


The last few days have seen the Dow Jones Index increase by its biggest ever one day gain(5.1%) and markets have turned positive after 7 straight days of decline.


Are we out of the woods? Well I certainly do not have the answers and I expect more volatility(ups and downs) in the coming weeks.


Many of my clients are rightly concerned about their investments. Although those that have been working with me for many years will already know my advice.


Right now it’s the Coronavirus. Last year it was the US China trade war, 2018 was Shocktober, 2017 was North Korea tensions, 2016 was BREXIT and 2015 was Black Monday China……… and so on.


Markets always react negatively in the short term to these major events, especially the shock events such as what we are currently experiencing. However markets have also always recovered and gone on to hit new highs. This is the long term.


As financial advisers unfortunately we do not have any special skills to predict the future, we do not have a crystal ball which can tell us what will happen next. But I can tell you that trying to predict when these shocks will happen (timing the market) is largely an impossible job and thus hard to make profitable.


My advice is always the same, what matters is how long you are invested in the financial markets. If you are willing to invest for 5 years you are going to dramatically reduce the risk of these one off events affecting your long term returns. If you are invested for 10 years or more you are most likely going to reduce all the risk(based on all historical data).


Therefore when I make recommendations to my clients I am not looking at what companies(stocks) are going to do tomorrow. I am looking at what they are going to do in 5 years….. What will their fortunes be in 10 or 15 years. This is thinking long term and it is on this basis that we select our asset allocations.


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