Seeking Financial Health

Investors came back to global equity markets in January 2013. The MSCI World Index that tracks stocks in 24 countries rose 5% in January. That is the best performance in January since 1994. Equities from long dormant countries like Japan and China rallied hard over the past month along with the U.S., Europe, and other significant stock markets. While the debate goes on about how much further the market can go with economic and political uncertainty still around us, the troubling part to me is hearing from folks who got out of the market last year and are sitting with huge amounts of cash.

I have said many times that I think market forecasting is a waste of time and energy. But, I firmly believe that without a proper long term investment plan, investors have no chance of enjoying long term capital gains. I completely understand the emotion and decision of many to get out of the stock market last year. However, I believe those individuals that stuck to their investment strategies and goals are in much better shape mentally today to deal with any hiccup or speed bump that comes our way in the future.

Over the last two weeks, I have talked to several individuals who have opted out of the stock market and are sitting with a boat load of cash and are now paralyzed about what to do. They remain worried about Washington and other concerns and do not feel confident reengaging in the stock market. I understand their concerns but also know that the decision to reengage will be far more difficult than the decision to sell and get out.

My main point to those sitting on the sideline is to refresh that long term investment plan.  Think in terms of a five and ten year time horizon versus a five month horizon. Think about where interest rates are now compared to where they were 10 years ago. Once you start lengthening out your time horizon, stock valuations and their historic position versus bonds look pretty darn good.

I believe in planning not wishful thinking. I believe you can expect positive returns in the future if you have a proper game plan. This doesn't mean that I expect all roses and no troubles along the journey. I expect we will experience several speed bumps this year and for many years to come. However, I do think we will survive them just like we survived year end 2012, the European debt crisis, and other scary periods of time. Just like good football coaches, adjustments at certain points in the game of investments may need to be made. But, staying in the game and being involved in the long term planning strategy is the best way to achieve real growth of investment capital.

If you have friends and family that are currently struggling with their retirement planning please encourage them to contact me for a discussion on developing a long term investment plan. It is a lot easier to take proper action steps if you have help along the journey.

Have a great week,

 

Roger N. Steed

February 4, 2013

 

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