In case you are wondering what goes through the mind of financial advisers during brutal stock market downturns, here is a peek behind the curtain. Obviously, just me, I can’t speak for all my adviser friends.
Feeling #1: Discouraged. People in the money business invest in the same stock and bond markets as their clients. Our portfolios go up and down, just like yours. We are not immune.
Action #1: Buy a little. Yes, I ran down to the Fidelity office last week and put my first quarter retirement contribution into diversified US stock funds. I say I don’t time the market, but just couldn’t help but want to get on the sale on shares that was happening.
Feeling #2: Worried. Not about the stock market. I really believe it will come back in its time and be higher than before. Eventually. My concern is more about the small businesses and their workers in my hometowns of Denver and Winter Park. They don’t operate on huge margins and temporary forced closures could turn to permanent, leaving us with nothing but Olive Garden for future date nights. I also worry about the hourly workers who have no savings and will be laid off from their jobs.
Action #2: Give and Spend and Write.
• I’m working with a favorite charity to give out books to kids at the grab-and-go lunch stations in the public school system.
• I’m going to be eating take-out from local restaurants every night.
• I plan to write my legislators and encourage bailouts not just for corporations, but hourly workers.
Feeling #3: Ill-equipped. Financially, I practice what I preach and keep enough in cash savings to weather a 6-month no-income storm. Emotionally, I am not prepared to be responsible for my child’s education for possibly the rest of the semester. Or being stuck in the house with my nuclear family for weeks on end. This is new territory for all of us and if you are scared about what is going on, chances are your financial adviser is, too.
Action #3: Breathing exercises, stay off the news as much as possible, calling friends to check in, and hoping for our best selves to emerge.
If you are feeling scared about the pandemic, you are not alone. I just ask you to not worry about the stock market, and please, don’t dump all your investments and sit in cash until the next stock market high. Concentrate on things you can control and try to let go of the rest.