The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war is hurting Americans’ financial outlook, sparking a desire to save more and postpone investments, according to a MassMutual survey. But avoiding stock market volatility can be a mistake, according to financial experts.
Two-thirds of Americans fear the conflict will hurt their wallets, with nearly half keen to save more money and 42% delay investing, according to the report.
“In a year that started with so much hope and optimism, many are extremely concerned about the U.S. economy,” said Amanda Wallace, head of insurance operations at MassMutual, pointing to the stress of day-to-day expenses and to financial insecurity.
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It was a volatile time for the stock market as investors react to news about the war, rising interest rates and soaring inflation, among other headlines.
Hesitance to invest is common, especially after a “liquidity event,” such as the sale of a business, according to certified financial planner Dennis Morton, founder and principal of Morton Brown Family Wealth in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “Sometimes the language is ‘I’ll wait for things to calm down.'”
But pausing investments during market turmoil can be costly, he said, because sitting on cash can mean skipping opportunities to “make the money work” at lower prices, often missing the recovery. .
Indeed, high returns can follow some of the steepest declines, according to Bank of America research.
Since 1930, missing the top 10 days of the S&P 500 each decade has generated a total return of 28%. However, staying invested may have led to a 17,715% return, the company found.
These results line up with research from JP Morgan, showing how the best market days often follow the worst, and there is a cost opportunity of not staying invested.
“When we make a financial plan, we assume a certain rate of return over a period of time,” Morton said. “And missing a few days, weeks or months can change that rate of return and really put the plan in jeopardy.”
Often, a long-term perspective can help minimize anxiety or the urge to panic sell during stock market fluctuations, experts say.
“Whether the markets go up or down, my investment advice remains consistent,” said Jim Shagawat, CFP and Partner Advisor at AdvicePeriod in Paramus, New Jersey. “Investing for retirement means a long-term strategy, regardless of current market conditions.”
Even with strong financial knowledge or skills, it can be unsettling to see large portfolio declines, he said. But it is essential to avoid emotional investment decisions.
“Let’s find this [asset] an allocation you can stick to,” added Morton, explaining the importance of knowing your risk tolerance and designing a portfolio accordingly.