Reactions to Market Corrections

When the market moves in the wrong direction, investors move as well, but how and how much they move can vary greatly.

Some are quick to sell, dumping their investments at the first sign of trouble, while others only batten down the hatches and prepare to hold on while the market pitches and rolls.

Of the reactions traditionally seen, the following five are the most common:

These are the investors—professional or amateur—that think they can outsmart the market by making a lot of trades and making them fast. They shift their money from investment to investment in the hopes that by moving around enough, they can avoid getting hit by the avalanche of a declining market.

Unfortunately, these investors are typically doing more harm than good, and a simple, everyday occurrence is a fantastic illustration of how ineffective this strategy is:

The traffic jam.

Constantly switching lanes in a traffic jam is about as effective as constantly shifting investments—as soon as one lane starts moving another will stop moving. There is no “better” or “faster” lane. It’s a traffic jam, every lane is bad.

A sudden downturn in the market isn’t a sign of the impending economic apocalypse yet many investors behave as though it is.

That type of mindset always leads to the same outcome—PANIC.

Panic makes investors act foolishly and irrationally. All of a sudden, everyone wants to swap all of their liquid and illiquid assets for cold hard cash, as though cash would actually provide any salvation in the event of a truly apocalyptic economic crash.

While it’s important to pay attention to what’s happening in the market, and absolutely critical for investors to understand what they can afford to lose, going into panic-mode every time the market changes will only do more harm than good.  

Head in the Sand
Far away from panic at the other end of the spectrum, there are the investors who try to ignore every happening in the market to a fault—sometimes even refusing to open monthly or quarterly statements.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to ignore problems away, and investors who bury their heads in the sand are simply exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.  

Don’t simply “buy and hope” everything will work out alright. Deal with investment obstacles head-on before they become full-blown problems. Flag portfolio weaknesses early on.

Over-confident investors are no different than over-confident gamblers—they may go on a spectacular run but eventually, the house always wins…Only in this case, the house is the market and not a casino.

Taking an arrogant attitude towards the market is a sure-fire way to get burned and burned badly. Any investor who consistently says “don’t worry about the market, it will come back,” is an investor that should NOT be listened to.

The reality is, the market will NOT always come back—at least not in a hurry—and for investors who rely on their investment-income to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, an over-confident attitude can be nothing short of disaster.    

The Market Timer
Similar to the over-trader, the market timer tried to beat the market, just in a different way—by pulling their money out and sitting it in cash at exactly the right time.

If any investor actually had the ability to do this, not only would they probably never work a day in their life, they’d probably the wealthiest person on the planet—but no such investor exists.

Timing the market with perfection would require more than genius, it would require psychic powers, and psychic powers aren’t real or else everybody on Wall Street would be working for Miss Cleo.  

The reality is, it is impossible to perfectly predict what’s going to happen in the market, so there’s no sense in trying to time investment moves down to the last second. As long as investment moves are only slightly ahead of or slightly behind the curve, everything will work out fine.

Again, these are just a few of the unhealthy reactions investors have to negative market swings—they are by no means the only ones. As an investor, if you feel you’re susceptible to falling within one of these categories, it’s extremely important to evaluate your investment portfolio with a professional, ideally a fiduciary with reputable market knowledge. That’s why you need Compass Retirement Solutions.  Talk to us about planning for negative swings in the market so you don’t fall victim to one of these unhealthy behaviors.  Give us a call at 314.373.1598.