How Market Volatility Can Be Your Friend

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

Chances are if you’re in your thirties or forties, the financial media is something you don’t watch on a daily basis (don’t worry; we think that’s a good thing). You’re busy with life. Between your career, family, after-school activities for your kids, commitments with friends etc., it’s hard enough to carve out a few minutes to unwind at night, let alone find the time or interest to keep up on recent updates in the stock market.  Even if you aren’t a financial media junky, you’ve probably still seen a few headlines or overheard co-workers discussing how crummy the markets have been so far in 2016 and that 2015 wasn’t a great year either.

If you’re in “accumulation mode” and retirement is 15 years or more out, don’t get caught up in the noise or the countless investment tips and stock picks you’ll inevitably hear from others. If your investment accounts are positioned properly for your own specific goals, with personal objectives and risk comfort levels in mind, roller coaster markets like we’ve experienced over the last few months are your friend. For some reason, investments are the only things I can think of that people typically don’t like to buy when they may be undervalues OR at attractive valuations. Why? Because it can be a little nerve wracking and possibly seem counterintuitive to continue to “buy” or invest when markets are falling. But what is occurring when you do just that? You’re purchasing more shares of the investments you own for the same dollar amount! Let’s look at an example: 

Sarah is 38 and is putting $1,000/month into her 401k, which is roughly 10% of her salary. She owns a single investment with a current share price of $10, meaning for this month, she bought 100 shares ($1,000 / $10/share). What if, however, the market declines like we’ve seen so far in 2016 and now the share price is down to $9? That same $1,000 deposit is going to get Sarah just over 111 shares ($1,000 / $9/share). Since she is about 25 years out from retirement, Sarah welcomes these short-term market corrections because it gives her the opportunity to buy more shares to potentially sell at a date in the future at a much higher price. If we look back in history, those who stayed consistent with this strategy typically had the greatest success.  

Everything I’ve described above is pretty straightforward. It’s not flashy or “sexy” and it might even sound somewhat boring. Good! Investing and financial planning does not have to be overcomplicated. I recently heard this quote and it really resonated with me: “Simplicity wins every time. Complexity is the enemy of execution.”  Why make things more complicated than they have to be?

Here are a few examples of simple, but effective ways to build wealth:

  • Live within your means.
  • Save at least 10% of your income for retirement each year starting early and increase that percentage 1% each year. For more information, check out a blog I wrote on this topic.
  • Invest in a well-balanced, diversified portfolio that matches YOUR needs, not someone else’s.
  • Work together with a financial planner that you trust and who can help to take as much stress out of money for you and your family as possible.
  • Tune out the “noise” from financial media – the world doesn’t end very often!

You might be thinking, “I know this stuff is important, but I just don’t have the time or desire to understand it better.” Fair enough. This is one reason of the many reasons our clients hire us. They know we’re experienced and are passionate about an area in their life that is extremely important, and our clients want to get it right. Our goal is to work with you to make smart financial choices and help take the stress out of money for you and your family during each stage of your life. Let us know how we can help you do just that. 

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Nick is a member of The Center’s financial planning department and also works closely with Center clients. In addition, Nick is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs.


This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Nick Defenthaler and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Dollar-cost averaging cannot guarantee a profit or protect against a loss, and you should consider your financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss regardless of strategy selected. There is no guarantee that using an advisor will produce favorable investment results. Diversification and asset allocation do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The example provided in this material is hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. Actual investor results will vary.