Financial Planning Fridays #67: Friends Who Panic

A month ago, a wonderful long-time client of mine called and told me that her best friend said that she must sell everything in her account and move it to gold, cash, and other “safe” assets that day. 

Her best friend said that the market was likely to crash soon, and she should forget about her long-term plan and matching carefully designed investment portfolio immediately.

This was not the first time I had heard about this friend. So, I said to this client, “Mom, thank you so much for your call, this is the best news I’ve heard all week.” 

You see, the thing is, it is almost without fail in these exact moments, where things seem bleakest, and every friend or television personality is telling you to sell, that is usually the point that the market tends to turn around and move higher. And since that conversation just one month ago the S&P 500 is now up more than 10%. 

If my mom had sold, missing just one month, it would have cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential investment gains. 

There has never been a time in history where everything has been perfect. Despite that, the market has consistently moved upward over time and created trillions of dollars in wealth for families just like yours and mine. But in order to receive those returns, we must stay invested because we simply do not know when the next move up will happen. 

I also like this chart as a powerful reminder of just how much even one week can mean for your investments. 

This chart shows the growth of a $100 investment in the S&P 500 since 2010. If you remained fully invested the entire time, your investment is now worth almost 4 times as much at $390. 

However, if you missed the best week each year- just 14 out of the last 720 weeks- your investment would have only grown to $193.55. More than twice the growth came from just those 14 weeks!

And yes, I can hear those naysayers out there now. Often the same ones pounding the table to move to gold and cash. “Miss the best week? What if we just miss the worst weeks instead? How much higher would our returns be?”

And they’re right. Exponentially higher. But, as far as I can tell, no one throughout history has been able to predict when those best, or worst, weeks may occur.

One thing we have seen is that the best weeks often come while the media has the bleakest headlines, or your best friend calls you in a panic. And the worst weeks tend to come when people think nothing can go wrong.

So, in the meantime, until someone can accurately tell us the future, please keep your money invested at all times to get the full benefit of compounding over time. The risk isn’t necessarily being invested during a crisis – the real risk is not being invested during the times the market is moving higher. 

Be on the lookout for our next Financial Planning Fridays episode. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel so you never miss an episode. Or contact us directly; schedule your 15-minute call with us today.