Why the urgent need for “safety” can lead investors astray
These days, we’re reading a lot about the “flight to safety” in markets and investments. It’s understandable, of course, as the COVID-19 virus pandemic spreads fear and panic through global financial markets as a nasty side effect. But is that flight to safety the right thing to do right now?
Robyn Thompson is featured in CTV’s “Your Morning” with Anne-Marie Mediwake, discussing how to handle your investments and personal finances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic scare.
With stock markets now into bear market territory, a global recession looming, and mob-mentality behavior prevailing in both supermarkets and stock markets, Robyn has some timely advice for investors on how to stay calm, weather the market turmoil, and even profit from new opportunities.
Stock market rout not the time for wholesale portfolio changes
The rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus (also known as the coronavirus), has hit global markets hard over the past few weeks as investors worry about the impact of the spreading contagion on global trade and corporate earnings. Stock market indexes have plunged well into correction territory (down more than 10% from recent highs), crude oil has dropped to levels last seen in 2017, global growth appears to be slowing, and with a possible recession looming, central banks are cutting interest rate cuts.
You may as well face facts: You can’t “save” a million dollars. A recent survey of the market showed that the highest rate paid in a standard, plain-vanilla deposit savings account (the kind that most banks and large financial institutions offer as a place to put your cash) was around 2.8%, while the lowest was, believe it or not, one tenth of 1%. Believe me, with this kind of return, you will not be able to “save” a million dollars. But another fact is that you can still retire rich, possibly with much more than a million dollars in your nest egg, once you unshackle yourself from the savings account trap. Here’s how.
Novices especially prone to classic investment pitfalls
Markets go through periods of volatility, and we are in one such period now. Market sentiment has been decidedly sour for the past few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently sank into correction territory. And crude oil prices have slumped, hitting the energy sector hard. Economic growth in China is coming in slower than expected rattling exporters and commodity producers. So what’s an investor to do? Do you sell your stocks, get out of the market, and put your money under a mattress? But that would be precisely the wrong thing to do. Investors can go a long way to calming down if they simply avoid these four classic investment mistakes.
In this day and age of “robo-advisors” and passive index investing, many investors seem to have forgotten the single immutable truth that equity markets are inherently risky. That’s simply because the share prices of stocks traded on markets are influenced mostly by expectations of future earnings growth. Many factors can come to bear on these expectations apart from a company’s competitive position, financial strength, and industry outlook. These include shorter-term geopolitical events (not as important) and longer-term economic and monetary policies (more important). Put it all together and it adds up to market-wide trends, oscillations, and fluctuations, which are often characterized by a wide amplitude from top to bottom. This is what’s broadly called “risk.” And it’s what most investors have trouble dealing with. READ MORE
The lure of rising rates and market-linked returns
Current 5-year GIC rates are being advertised as high as 3.50%. Given that most savings accounts offer much less than 1.00%, some investors have been wondering whether it’s time to move funds into GICs as part of their risk-free allocation. Others go a step further and are considering GICs linked to a market index that, according to the marketing sheets, offer much more than 3.50%. Have GICs become a good investment choice now? READ MORE
A benchmark is a market yardstick independent of your portfolio against which your performance can be evaluated. It’s usually an index that tracks the performance of the broader market, like the S&P/TSX Composite Index or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and so on. But with the growth of financial products over the past 20 years or so, especially exchange-traded funds (ETFs), indexes have sprouted like mushrooms, tracking ever-finer slices of this market or that. Many indexes have been created solely to provide a benchmark for just one ETF or one investment fund or pool and are therefore virtually useless as a gauge of broader market performance. READ MORE
“Sell in May, go away, and don’t come back till Labour Day.” With the return of volatility earlier this year after many years of an uninterrupted bull market, many analysts are warning that the stock market is due for a correction, and that now is the best time to sell stocks – before the summer doldrums set in. The market’s crystal ball gazers claim to have a window into the future. In fact, no one does, and acting on what might happen can be decidedly bad for your financial health. READ MORE
The real cost of investing in mutual funds and ETFs
The way the marketing hype has it these days, you’d think investment costs have dropped to zero. What with all the do-it-yourself platforms out there hawking their black boxes and promising, at least implicitly, huge savings on costs, novice investors can be forgiven for thinking that buying mutual funds or setting up an ETF portfolio is somehow cost-free. Just open an online account, press the “trade” button, and it’s done. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Any economist will tell you that there are costs associated with every good or service. Investments are no exception. Here’s a summary of the costs that you’ll still pay for when buying that mutual fund or ETF. READ MORE