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Three-Step Checklist for Turbulent Markets

When the stock market experiences extreme volatility, an investor’s best bet is to focus his/her energy on factors that can be controlled. Unfortunately, many investors panic-sell and lose their money. When the market rebounds, many investors are left wondering if it’s the right time to get back in.

Your best bet during turbulent markets is an investment of time. You want to invest in time to see where you stand now, and, if you determine changes are in order, thoroughly research your options. Here is a three-step checklist to manage your investments during turbulent markets.

Step 1: Check adequacy of cash reserves.

The best way to manage your portfolio during volatile markets is to make sure you have adequate cash on hand to cover your near-term needs. This way, your long-term stock investments can ride out the market ups and downs, but you can take comfort in knowing that they won’t affect your ability to fund short-term cash needs.

Step 2: Check your long-term positioning.

Once you’ve done the liquidity check, the next step is to check the asset allocation of your long-term assets. Market sell-offs can be alarming for retirees and people getting close to retirement simply because they typically have more money invested, compared with their younger counterparts. Checking your long-term positioning helps you put things into perspective so that you can make sound investment decisions for your future.

Step 3: Initiate defensive hedges with care.

During turbulent markets, investors may initiate defensive strategies like selling out of stocks and buying into the so-called “safe” investments like gold. Gold and treasuries can serve as a legitimate defensive role in a portfolio; however, these investments may have already enjoyed a sizable run-up. If you’re moving into either, do so with caution, and only after you’ve checked your existing exposure to those asset classes.

Treasuries are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. Debt securities are subject to credit/default risk and interest-rate risk (they have varying levels of sensitivity to changes in interest rates). In general, the price of a debt security tends to fall when interest rates rise and rise when interest rates fall. Securities with longer maturities and mortgage securities can be more sensitive to interest rate changes.

Gold/commodity investments will be subject to the risks of investing in physical commodities, including regulatory, economic and political developments, weather events, natural disasters, and market disruptions. Exposure to the commodities markets may subject the investment to greater volatility than investments in more traditional securities, such as stocks and bonds.

 
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