After a rough year in 2018, the S&P 500 and the Dow sit in record territory. So far in 2019, stocks have staged a very nice recovery with the S&P 500 up about 29% year-to-date. These gains are in spite of the questions and issues surrounding the Trump administration, the threat of trade wars with a number of countries and uncertainty about what the Fed will do with interest rates.
At some point we are bound to see a stock market correction of some magnitude, hopefully not on the order of the 2008-09 financial crisis. As someone saving for retirement what should you do now?
Review and rebalance
During the last market decline there were many stories about how our 401(k) accounts had become “201(k)s.” The PBS Frontline special The Retirement Gamble put much of the blame on Wall Street and they are right to an extent, especially as it pertains to the overall market drop.
However, some of the folks who experienced losses well in excess of the market averages were victims of their own over-allocation to stocks. This might have been their own doing or the result of poor financial advice.
This is the time to review your portfolio allocation and rebalance if needed. For example, your plan might call for a 60% allocation to stocks but with the gains that stocks have experienced you might now be at 70% or more. This is great as long as the market continues to rise, but you are at increased risk should the market head down. It may be time to consider paring equities back and to implement a strategy for doing this.
Financial Planning is vital
If you don’t have a financial plan in place, or if the last one you’ve done is old and outdated, this is a great time to review your situation and to get an up-to-date plan in place.. Do it yourself if you’re comfortable or hire a fee-only financial advisor to help you.
If you have a financial plan this is an ideal time to review it and see where you are relative to your goals. Has the market rally accelerated the amount you’ve accumulated for retirement relative to where you had thought you’d be at this point? If so, this is a good time to revisit your asset allocation and perhaps reduce your overall risk.
Learn from the past
It is said that fear and greed are the two main drivers of the stock market. Some of the experts on shows like CNBC seem to feel that the market still has some upside. Maybe they’re right. However, don’t get carried away and let greed guide your investing decisions.
Manage your portfolio with an eye towards downside risk. This doesn’t mean the markets won’t keep going up or that you should sell everything and go to cash. What it does mean is that you need to use your good common sense and keep your portfolio allocated in a fashion that is consistent with your retirement goals, your time horizon and your risk tolerance.
Approaching retirement and want another opinion on where you stand? Need help getting on track? Check out my Financial Review/Second Opinion for Individuals service for detailed advice about your situation.
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Photo credit: Phillip Taylor PT
Originally posted at https://thechicagofinancialplanner.com/stock-market-highs-and-your-retirement/