Rockbridge Named #81 on CNBC's Top 100 Fee Only Wealth Mgmt Firms List
Jul 14

Another Surprise – Yet Again!

by Craig Buckhout

The recent vote in Britain to exit the European Union is yet another reminder of how markets often react negatively to surprises. We cannot help but ask ourselves, “Is it different this time? Maybe this is the event that upends markets as we know them, and I would be stupid not to react!”

As it turned out, markets settled down quickly after this latest surprise, but it reminds us that long-term investors must endure these market downturns because no one has the crystal ball that would allow us to avoid them.

Sometimes surprises have profound and long-lasting effects. Those of us who have been saving for retirement for the past thirty years or so have seen plenty of surprises, and I think it is helpful to put some of the results in perspective. Looking back from 2016, it is interesting to note how disappointing our recent experience has been. Since 1940:

• The worst 3-year performance for the S&P 500 ended in March of 2003 (-16.09% annualized).
• The worst 5-year performance for the S&P 500 began a year later in March 2004 (-6.64% annualized).
• And the worst 15-year performance for the S&P 500 ended in August 2015 (+3.76% annualized).

In other words, the technology/dot-com bubble that ended in March 2000, and the financial crisis of 2008, were back-to-back disastrous surprises for the stock market. The fallout has consumed more than half the working career of anyone much under 50 years old, and had a negative impact on those who are older and trying to save for retirement in their peak earning years.

Another interesting fact: If we add the previous ten years to that worst 15-year period (25 years beginning in September 1990), the S&P 500 realized annualized returns of 9.8% – very close to longer-term averages.

Some conclusions we can draw from these observations:

• Time horizon matters – 15 years is not a long time for a long-term investor, and anyone planning for retirement should be a long-term investor.
• It’s different every time – the cause of the surprise is almost always different than the last time markets were shaken, but long-term investors must be ready to endure the inevitable downturn.
• The best reaction is almost always the same – check your risk profile to be sure it is appropriate for your situation, then rebalance to your targets, buying stocks at discounted prices.
• Staying the course makes sense – the major market run-up in the 1990’s was as unforeseeable as the subsequent downturns.

Events like the Brexit vote test our patience and tolerance for risk. Maintaining a long view to the future, and keeping history in perspective, can help us make better investment decisions.

About the Author

Craig Buckhout is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and Principal at Rockbridge Investment Management.  “In the early 1990s it became clear to us that ordinary people were going to need help managing their substantial savings, as 401(k) plan assets began to replace pensions as a source of retirement income. After spending the first decade of my career in the world of corporate finance, I was excited to work with clients and apply institutional investment principles to help them achieve their goals.”  Craig holds his BS & MBA from Cornell University, and is a member of the SUNY ESF (College of Environmental Science and Forestry) Foundation Board – Treasurer, CNY Community Foundation – Board Member.
Learn more and/or Contact Craig


You Might Also Like

Other articles filed under Investing

Market Commentary – April 2019

April 24, 2019
Stock Markets Stocks rebounded nicely. Tech stocks (FANGs – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) after leading the way down in last year’s fourth quarter (off 22%) led stocks back up (up 23%). A global stock portfolio earned about 12% this quarter...
Continue Reading

Long-Term Disability Considerations

April 22, 2019
Many of us are familiar with insurance for your home, auto and life, but the reality is - we don't often know our specific coverages until we need to make a claim.  Insurance has become so specific it’s worthwhile to...
Continue Reading

Where Is The Value?

April 19, 2019
It’s no secret that since the Financial Crisis value stocks have underperformed growth stocks.   Many theories exist as to why this has happened, none of which can be confirmed as truth.  This begs the question “what does this last decade...
Continue Reading

Life Events to Consider

April 17, 2019
If you’re like most people, you know that planning to achieve your financial goals involves more than just budgeting and saving for retirement. You’ve undoubtedly received financial advice, solicited or otherwise, from some combination of family, friends, coworkers, or even...
Continue Reading

New York State Office of Unclaimed Funds

February 8, 2019
Over the summer, we had a client ask if there was a place to look for existing accounts or funds they or family members may have accumulated and forgotten about over the years. That sparked Julie’s memory of the New...
Continue Reading

‹ Back to Blog Home

getting started is simple

315.671.0588 info@rockbridgeinvest.com Schedule a meeting Sign Up for Our Newsletter