“It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones who win in the lifelong race.” – Robert W. Service
The year 2018 is over, and what is most interesting is how different it was from the previous year 2017. This is a good reminder that every year is different, and 2019 will not necessarily follow the negative and volatile 2018.
When I write or say something like that, I inevitably hear from someone who says “yeah, but it’s different this time. Everything has changed because of X, Y, and Z”. In my almost 28 years working with clients, the fundamentals of diversification,time horizon, and complementary financial decisions around your portfolio have remained the same. And no, it’s not different this time. I’ve been hearing that for 28 years.
Watch my video and/or read the transcript. It’s less than 10 minutes, and will give you a good big picture perspective on how I see things.
Hi There. Mike Brady with Generosity Wealth Management; a comprehensive financial services firm headquartered right here in Boulder Colorado. 2018 is behind us. Thank goodness. Forget about it. 2019 let’s hope for a very happy and profitable one. I’m going to put up on the screen the unmanaged stock market index the Dow Jones industrial average, the one that you hear about the most on TV. What you’re going to see is the first quarter was negative, the second and third quarters were positive and that’s where we wished that the year has ended. But then we had the fourth quarter and it took it all away. In particular December very volatile and very negative month right there month of December.
Depending on what stock market index you want to look at you’re looking at the negative five, negative six percent for the year. When you get a little bit more non-common ones like the SMP mid cap, the small cap and you’re looking at the Russell 2000’s you’re looking at the negative double digits, the negative teens, the negative 12, negative14, 15, 16. And when you look at the international markets, whether it’s Europe, whether it’s pacific they were negative double digits as well, the negative teens depending on what particular country and what particular index. Very few places to hide in 2018. When we look over at the bonds the unmanaged bond indexes you’re looking at negative as well, negative single digit, negative one and negative six depending the percent that you’re looking at for that particular area and that’s kind of a unique situation, but with rising interest rates that’s just what happened for 2018.
Let’s think about it though for 2017, 2017 I sat here 12 months ago and talked with you about 2017. At that point what I said is wow this was an incredibly nonvolatile year, I mean pretty much every week every month was positive and it was a banner year, yay 2017, but it’s not real. Go back 12 months ago and watch that video and that’s what I said I’m like this isn’t reality guys, this is a unique situation that very low volatile no volatile year practically was then followed by an extremely volatile year, which is 2018. So we have these two contrasts two extremes right next to each other, which should remind us that every year is different. Every year is different and in 2019 it could be someplace in between. So let’s not extrapolate out and say wow 2018 was negative and really volatile so therefore 2019 is going to be negative and really volatile. It just doesn’t work that way.
There are many variables in the equation that go towards an economy, currency markets, stock markets, bond markets, et cetera, and anyone on TV or who is filling a headline in the newspaper or magazine that says this is the reason why the number one reason or this is the sole reason is fooling themselves and they’re fooling you and don’t listen to it. There are a number of factors in a multiple trillion-dollar economy and world market and it’s simply not as simple as this is the reason. When we are creating a portfolio, when you as an investor are trying to reach your financial goals it is important that we stack the odds in our favor to the degree that we can. Absolutely nothing is guaranteed in this world. I just want to say that. But what we can do is look at history and say how can we stack things in our favor knowing that the future might be different? And I’m going to say that there’s three things that we can do: number one, stay diversified, have the right timeframe and then look at all the things that are around it surrounding all those decisions. Let me break each one of them apart.
Number one, stack in our favor with the timeframes. Talk about that first. On a daily basis the market is going to be up or it’s going to be down. That’s it. That’s a very short timeframe and I don’t know on a day-to-day basis anymore than you do whether the market is going to be up or it’s going to be down. When we look out to a year we zoom out like a mosaic we kind of get a little bit more perspective, we step back from the wall and we look at a year we say okay going back to 60, 70, 80 years of market data three out of four were positive, one out of four were negative and sometimes those negative years were strung together. I mean I remember in my career 2000, 2001 and 2002 were three negative years right next to each other. Now I will tell you that 2004 and 2005 were good years. I know because I was there. But 2000, 2001, 2002 were negative years, but three out of four are positives. So when we look at on a yearly basis we’re starting to stack things in our favor if what has happened historically was to continue in the future.
When we look at five years has there ever been a time horizon were a diversified portfolio, 50 percent of an unmanaged bond index, 50 percent of an unmanaged stock index together has lost money? The answer is no. I’m going to put that chart up on the screen. When we look out five years, ten years, 20 years now historically the odds have been in our favor when we can hit our particular mark. So it’s important for us to remember that the future could be different, I just want to let you know that. Having a diversified portfolio does not guarantee market losses in a declining market. I just want to say that. But we’re looking at the right time horizon for what you’re looking at from a client point of view.
Diversification, I said that that was very important. That is important. When you see on TV people who have lost everything that makes great news; oh my gosh little older lady lost all her money in this particular stock or this particular shopping mall or scheme, et cetera. That’s why it’s important to not invest in one individual stock or just a few stocks or a shopping mall or whatever it might be, they make great spectacular horrible stories that’s why you avoided them. A diversified market, diversified portfolio, even when we look back at 2008 the recovery period was two to three years. That was the absolute worst that we keep talking about the great recession was two to three years. And when I explained just a minute or two ago about the five-year and the ten-year time horizons that’s important to remember. Even in the worst situation when we kept our eye on the big picture reaching our financial goals that’s how we were successful.
The third thing is what are all the decisions around it? It doesn’t matter if the market is up if you haven’t save enough money. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if the market is up if you’re withdrawing too much money. It’s that simple. So you’ve got to know what your withdrawal rate is and what your deposits rate is depending on which cycle of life you are in. If you are older 60, 70, 80, listen I’m hoping you still have a long time horizon. Hopefully you have a time horizon of five, ten, 20 years, maybe longer depending on what your age is. Perhaps you’re investing the money for not just yourself but for your heirs, that’s important to remember that the time horizon then becomes a longer time.
So every year is different. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that 2019 is going to be positive or it’s going to be negative, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m a believer in the economy, I’m a believer in the United States for one thing, and I’m also a believer in a diversified portfolio for the long-term is going to be a wonderful thing for the vast majority of people, but only you can really decide whether the time horizon that you have and a portfolio that we’ve crafted together or that you’ve crafted with your financial advisor, if you’re not a client of mine you should give me a call, is appropriate because volatility and risk in my mind are two different things. The risk of you not having enough money, you not saving enough or you withdrawing money or not reaching your goals those are risks. A subset of that risk is volatility and volatility is always going to be there, particularly when we’re looking at things from a short-term. Short-term means days, weeks, even months, but when we start to look at longer multiple year strings together, string the years together, the volatility starts to tamper down because then we can get some perspective of how it fits towards the end goal.
Mike Brady; Generosity Wealth Management; 303-747-6455. Give me a call at anytime. Bye bye.