Do you remember what I wrote earlier this year in June after the historic Brexit vote in Great Britain? In light of our own historic vote in the US yesterday, I think I could cut and paste every word and it would still be as relevant as it was then. Winston Churchill rings in my ears yet again, reminding us that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” We do not have a perfect system to elect our officials, but it is the system we have had for generations that has allowed for a peaceful transfer of power since the beginning of our young nation. And it worked again. It worked in the sense that, regardless of which side of the ticket you voted for and supported, we have a system that gives us a voice in the outcome of the formation of the government that is in place to represent us. This is no small feat and cannot be overstated. But make no mistake about it…presidents do not make this a great nation that we live in, people do. We have always been a nation with some pretty incredible people, so that give me encouragement.
Do you know what else I said in June? “Any conclusions around what these new trades deals (insert ‘this new presidency’) will look like and the impact on global economies is purely speculation at this point.” Make no mistake about it, the volatility in the futures markets overnight shows that investors are still looking for details on plans and policies. As those come out, likely within the new President’s first 100 days, the markets will digest it and move on.
So what does this mean for global stock markets and your money? In the long term, probably not much. In the short term, probably more volatility than we have seen in recent months. Historically, markets are pretty much impossible to predict in the short term. People have tried to predict and failed for years, and other will continue to try and fail. In the long term (and we are talking 10+ years), however, they tend to behave pretty consistently. And what does that behavior look like? Stocks do better than bonds, and both tend to grow over time. No matter what is going on in the short term, if you are going to have a successful financial life plan and achieve your goals, you have to get compound interest working for you. And the way you do that is to get in the game and stay in the game.
Am I saying that you should do nothing? No, not at all. I may sound like a broken record here, but you have to look at volatility, especially larger than normal volatility, as a unique opportunity to buy good, long term investments while they are on sale. I will be spending time today going through client accounts to see if there is excess cash that should be utilized to buy any short term dip, if there is a dip. These strategic rebalances add value over time. Interestingly enough, even though the media was quick to highlight that US stock futures were down overnight over 5% (at one point, signaling an opening worse than the day after 9/11), as I review the S&P 500 index right now at noon EST, it is UP almost 1%! That is a dramatic turn around, but highlights that, friends…don’t pay attention to what the media is trying to sell you. They sell fear, and fear is not a good partner when it comes to planning or investments.
Should you make any other changes to your financial life plan or investment strategies? No, probably not. When it comes to money, the best thing you can do for yourself in most cases is exactly nothing. Don’t take the bait that in front of you from so many different angles…the media, friends, family. Don’t make drastic changes you will live to regret later. Don’t get too emotionally tied in to what you see on the news. Emotions can make terrible decisions. When you hear that little voice trying to amp up the fear in your head, drowned it out with truth. The truth is that you are still ok…stick to the plan that you made during calmer days. You have to remember to control what you can control. This is why I harp so much on making a plan that maps out your goals and puts you on a path to achieve things that are most important to you. Buying in to the fear found in the day to day does not help you one ounce to harness your wealth to live your great financial life.
All of this is a wonderful reminder to make sure you have a plan that matches your values with your money. This is where you play in the realm of controlling what you can control. Can you control the Return on Investment (ROI) that you get from day to day? No, you can’t, and neither can I! The markets will provide the return that the markets provide…your job is to stay invested so that you can capture 100% of that. I want you to focus on achieving your maximum Return on Life (ROL) and you do this by having a thoughtful, well-designed plan that matches your money and your values. ROL trumps (excuse the play on words) ROI any day of the week because ROL means you are moving towards goals that are meaningful to you and impact the lives of those around you. That is what truly matters and can be accomplished no matter who gets elected as president. If you are not sure if you are on track or haven’t looked at your plan lately, get in touch with me and we’ll make sure you are controlling the things that you can control.
Stay calm, friends…