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Five dos and don’ts during periods of volatility

12 December 2018

Market ups and downs can be unnerving. We look at investing dos and don’ts during turbulent times.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek independent advice.

What you’ll learn:

  • How panicking is the worst thing you can do.
  • Why it’s time in the market and not market timing which matters.
  • Why it’s important to review and rebalance your portfolio.

Market volatility can be nerve-wracking for even the most experienced of investors but making knee-jerk reactions may be the worst thing you could do.

Here, we look at five dos and don’ts during periods of market turbulence.

Remember, we don’t offer advice, so if you’re unsure where to invest or how to manage your investments when markets are volatile, seek professional financial advice. Bear in mind too that however you react to falling markets, there’s still the risk you could get back less than you put in.

DO remember why you’re investing

When markets are choppy, think about the reasons you invested in the first place, and your investment timeframe. Focusing on the long-term and your financial objectives is one way to prevent hasty decisions.

Learn about staying focused in turbulent markets

DON’T panic

Panicking when the value of your investment falls could lead you to sell, turning paper losses into real ones. It’s important not to get into the habit of selling investments every time they experience a dip as doing nothing is usually a better option. That’s because the longer you’re prepared to stay invested, the greater the chance your investments will yield positive returns, although it’s important to remember there are no guarantees.

DO make sure you have an emergency fund

Always make sure you have a cash buffer in place that you can use as a rainy-day fund, or to dip into if there’s an emergency. Investing is only suitable for longer-term financial goals, so you’ll need to keep some cash savings readily available for any short-term plans if you want to avoid being forced to sell investments at the wrong time.

Find out more about the importance of an emergency fund and making sure your finances are in order

DON’T be impatient

Seeking immediate investment returns rather than focusing on the long-term can lead you to make the wrong decisions at the wrong time and to trade more frequently, increasing your transaction costs. Remember that investments should be held for at least five years, but preferably longer, hopefully giving your money time to recover from any setbacks.

Find out more about the cost of impatience

DO try to see the positives

Falling markets may be stressful, but try to see them as an inevitable part of your investing journey, rather than a reason to sell. Remember that if you’re out of the market you might protect yourself against losses but you could miss out on gains while you’re waiting for things to stabilise.

DON’T follow the herd

When markets drop it’s often tempting to do what everyone else is doing. That means if everyone you speak to is panic-selling, you might decide to do the same. Rather than listening to market noise, however, take a disciplined approach to your investments and remember that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Read more about keeping calm during turbulent times

DO remember that some volatility is to be expected

Market swings are unsettling, but they are part and parcel of investing. Adopting a buy-and-hold investment approach is one way to ensure you stay invested throughout market ups and downs, reducing the risk of missing any of the best days, and keeping trading costs to a minimum. Of course, there are no guarantees that you’ll be rewarded for sitting tight, so you must be prepared to accept the fact you could still lose money in the end.

DON’T ignore the benefits of regular investing

One of the things many investors fear most is investing a lump sum only for markets to fall soon afterwards. By drip feeding your money into an investment over a period of time, you invest across a range of prices. So, you effectively pay the average price over a fixed period, which can help smooth out market volatility.

Find out more about the benefits of regular investing

DO make sure your portfolio is diversified

Spreading your money across a range of different asset classes means that if one or more of your investments rise you will benefit but, if they fall, there should be a degree of protection because, hopefully, some of your other holdings in different asset classes will be going up in value.

Discover why diversification matters

DON’T forget to rebalance when you need to

Although you shouldn’t tinker with your investments too often, market movements could mean that your investment portfolio no longer matches your risk appetite, investment time frame or goals, and your asset allocation may need reviewing or rebalancing. It’s therefore important to monitor your portfolio every few months so you can make sure it’s still on track.

Learn about the importance of managing your portfolio

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