Planning in a 9 Year Bull Market

As the market continues to grow, how should we plan?

Last week, both the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced to new all-time highs before settling into a sideways trend. In the end, the S&P 500 closed the week with a very slight gain of 0.2%. Although this wasn’t a “tie,” in many ways it still felt like kissing your sister.

The Nasdaq performed better as technology and biotechnology stocks did well. To make sector following even more interesting, financials performed strongly for a second consecutive week.

Keep in mind that the new “market highs” came about a year after Great Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union. As reported in USA Today (June 24, 2016),

The U.S. stock market suffered its worst drop in 10 months Friday as shock over the United Kingdom voters’ move to exit the European Union and Prime Minister David Cameron’s subsequent resignation announcement sent global markets into a tailspin. Amid the uncertainty over ‘Brexit,’ the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 611 points or 3.4% … The Standard and Poor’s 500 fell 3.6% … The Nasdaq composite … fell 4.1%.

Historic gains. Significant losses. Sideway trends; each one impacting your investments.

If you are saving for retirement, or college, or a business, or some other important financial goal, what steps should you be taking to make certain you are remaining on track?

  1. UPDATE YOUR WEALTH PLAN

First, you should be implementing or reviewing your Total Wealth Plan. Especially if you own a business or professional practice where the value and risk of this important investment can change rapidly.

I spent last week helping one of our clients work through some of the challenges he faced after acquiring a new practice. Like most owners, his professional firm is also his largest asset and he knows the importance of including its growth and value in his overall wealth plan so that his entire portfolio – his practice, real estate, investments, retirement plan, future earnings, line of credit, etc. – are working together to support the goals guiding his financial plan. Because of the nine-year bull market his portfolio has been doing well and has provided the financial stability needed to pursue his acquisition strategy.

If you have a Total Wealth Plan, you should review it to see whether your investments have grown so that you are now closer to reaching your financial objectives. If so, consider adjusting your plan to reflect your current – and possibly unexpected – situation.

If you don’t have a plan, you can get started by going to our QUICK START WEALTH PLANNING program.

With the market reaching new highs, you may be close to reaching your financial goals and should adjust your overall plan accordingly.

  1. UPDATE YOUR ALLOCATION

During the “great recession,” many investors watched their retirement accounts lose value. Though much of the loss came from the overall market decline, some was caused by investor error. In many instances, investors were not properly diversified and became overexposed to stocks and equities. Whether from their own doing or because they followed someone’s poor advice, the losses were financially – and emotionally – painful.

At least once each year you should review your portfolio’s allocation and, if necessary, rebalance it to reflect the asset mix you feel is right for your situation and goals. For example, if you had intended to have 60% of your portfolio in stocks, your portfolio could have grown to where your total allocation is now up to 70%! As a result, you may be carrying more risk than you had intended should the market start to decline.

Reviewing and, if necessary, cutting back or adding to your equities should be a part of your overall investment strategy.

  1. UPDATE YOUR MEMORY

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana.

The experts today are, as always, conflicted. Some financial gurus are convinced the market will continue to grow for a long time. Others believe the market is overvalued and will soon fall. As always, we will learn who is right after the fact.

This means that we should stay committed to a smartly-diversified, risk-managed investment plan; one that considers the possibility of market declines while pursuing the benefits of market growth. By remembering the pain of our portfolio losses, we will be motivated to maintain a disciplined investment plan.

Remember, your plan should encompass each of your financial goals, including your retirement. More importantly, it should be designed so that your total wealth – including your company or firm, your risk exposure, your real estate, your stock appreciation rights, your projected income – should be appropriately balanced so that you can benefit from the market returns of the past nine years while reducing your risks should that run come to an end. ALSO READ: KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TOTAL NET WORTH

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