Growing up in Southern California I spent a considerable amount of time at the beach – Huntington, Newport, Laguna and Mission – boogie boarding, body surfing, snorkeling, or scuba diving. On occasion I’d get stuck in a riptide.
Riptides are dangerous and can be life threatening. The most important thing to do if you’re caught in one is to relax. Don’t try to swim directly back to shore because the riptide is pulling you out to sea. It’s exhausting to swim against the tide and this is when you’ll get in trouble. To escape, swim horizontally to the riptide, parallel to the shore. Once you start swimming across the tide, identify a lifeguard tower to help you keep your bearings. After a while, you’ll be out of the riptide and you can swim safely back to shore.
Investors probably feel like they’re stuck in a financial riptide because the markets, all markets, are struggling this year.
Mutual funds are having a lackluster year. In fact, 82.5% of all mutual funds are in negative territory. There are a few funds up more than 10% for the year, very few. The percentage of funds in double digit territory is .74%. Ned Davis Research recently reported that no asset class has generated a return of more than 5% – a first since 1972.
Individual stocks aren’t faring much better as 70% of U.S. stocks are trading in negative territory.
What should you do if your portfolio is stuck in a financial riptide?
- Don’t panic or make rash decisions.
- Review your plan and your investments. Are you still on track to reach your goals? If you are, do not make any changes.
- Look for bargains. In a down year, locate good investments that are oversold to add to your portfolio for future growth.
- Rebalance your portfolio. As markets fluctuate, it’s possible your asset allocation is out of sync. For example, if your original allocation was 50% stocks, 50% bonds, it may now be 40% stocks, 60% bonds. When you rebalance, it will return your portfolio’s asset allocation to your original stance of 50%/50%.
Sometimes you must go sideways to reach your goals. It would be nice to generate a 10% return every year, with no downside, but this isn’t possible. Like tides, markets rise and fall. They fluctuate. The market will eventually recover. In the meantime, keep your eyes fixed on the horizon and focus on your long-term goals.
Life is a little like a message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and the tides. ~ Gene Tierney
December 11, 2018
Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process to help our clients pursue a life of purpose.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.
 MSCI Bloomberg Barclays Indices, Ned Davis Research, Inc. Russell, Source: S&P GSCI, Ed Clissold, Chief U.S. Strategist for Ned Davis Research Group, 11/26/2018,