Monday, March 16, 2009

Returning to our Roots

Lately, many people have asked me if they should consider turning their equity positions into cash. I know it is hard to see the S&P 500 decline like it has, and there is no denying that we are in the midst of a terrible bear market. However, it is important to remember that we are in the MIDST of the decline, not the beginning. The time to sell was 17 months ago, not now.

Unless you're on the doorstep to retirement, you still have years to allow the market to work for you, not against you. A long-term investor should review and potentially adjust their strategy. Making investment decisions based on emotion, however, is behavior more representative of a speculator. Let's review the difference:

Investing is a long-term process of implementing a diversified portfolio with a consistent re-balancing strategy based on your personal financial factors and risk tolerance.

Speculating, however, is what most people are resorting to now - trying to time and beat the market. Thinking they can predict it’s direction and force. Pulling out of the market to buy back in later. The problem is you have to be right TWICE - once on when to get out (I would argue it’s a bit late for that, but nothing would surprise me in this market), and once on when to get back in.

If you truly classify yourself as an investor, I encourage you to develop a financial plan, implement the plan, and monitor the plan on a fixed schedule. This will prevent you from acting irrationally. Seek the advice of an fee only, independent CFP with a fiduciary responsibility to do what is best for their clients to get working on your financial plan.

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