Wall Street was a zoo throughout 2023, with enough bear markets and bull runs to make any investor sweat. The market took a dive in the spring after several bank collapses made savers uneasy. By July, the Federal Reserve had raised interest rates eleven times, putting extra pressure on the economy and causing ongoing volatility. But by the end of the year, stocks rallied following the Fed’s announcement that three potential rate cuts could be coming in 2024.
When Wall Street takes a turn for the better, people often ask, “Is now a good time to enter the market?” But that’s not necessarily the right question to ask. Oftentimes, it’s more valuable to consider how you invest rather than when. Time in the market is much more valuable than trying to time the market.
Whether you’re a seasoned investor hoping to brush up on your strategy or new to the investment game, we've created a quick list of tips to help protect your investments depending on which stage of life you’re in.
People in their 20s and 30s can focus on long-term growth because they have time on their side to recover from market loss. If you fall into this category, retirement may feel a long way off, but investing early will give your money more time to compound and grow. Consider allocating a significant portion of your investment portfolio to equities, which historically provide high returns in the long run. However, make sure to spread out your risk by staying diversified rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.
Investing consistently can also help protect you from volatility. Dollar-cost averaging is a powerful tool to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs of the market. Using this method, you’ll automatically invest a certain amount of money every month, regardless of market conditions. This is helpful for new investors who may feel easily swayed by market fluctuations on Wall Street because it keeps you focused on long-term results.
Jumping into the market can be intimidating. It may feel safer to simply save your money in a high-yield savings account, but you’ll miss out on the long-term gains that investments provide. Investing comes with greater risk, but also potential to earn a much greater reward.
Investors in their 40s and 50s are often in their highest earning years, and while growth should still be prioritized during this stage of life, risk management is equally important. As a middle-aged investor, you probably have more financial responsibilities such as a mortgage to pay and extra mouths to feed. It's essential to balance growth with stability. Diversify your portfolio across several asset classes to mitigate your risk. For example, consider bonds or real estate in addition to stocks. Regularly review your investment strategy and consider meeting with a financial advisor who can help ensure your investments align with your long-term goals.
Investors who are nearing retirement need to shift their focus away from aggressive growth to capital preservation and income generation. If retirement is only five to 10 years away, you’ll need to protect the wealth you’ve accumulated to ensure you can use it during your golden years. At this stage of life, consider gradually reducing your exposure to high-risk investments and allocating a larger portion of your portfolio to more conservative assets such as Treasury bills and CDs. Rather than gambling with your hard-earned money, focus on generating a reliable stream of income to support your upcoming retirement.
Once you’re in retirement, income management and withdrawal strategies become crucial. Your investments should generate sustainable income streams — for example, an annuity with a lifetime income rider — to supplement your Social Security benefits and provide for your lifestyle in retirement. Remember to regularly review your withdrawal rates to ensure you don’t deplete your savings too quickly, especially during times of high inflation or market volatility.
While these tips are a helpful overview of the basics of investing, what works for one person may not work for another. Some people are comfortable investing aggressively, while others are more risk-averse. Your investment strategy should be specifically tailored to your unique goals and risk tolerance.
A financial advisor can design a plan to meet your individual needs and manage your portfolio, saving you from the stress of knowing what to do when the markets inevitably rise and fall. At Zephyrus Financial, we monitor all advisory accounts daily. This allows us to spot something small that might make a difference in the long run. Plus, licensed advisors have access to information, tools and software that are unavailable to everyday investors.
If you want help managing your investments, reach out to schedule a meeting with us. We do all our portfolio management in-house, which allows us to recommend the best products for each client. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients!
* Dollar cost averaging will not guarantee a profit, or protect you from loss, but may reduce your average cost per share in a fluctuating market.