Risk Expectations – Markets Go Down Every Year

Contributed by: Nicholas Boguth Nicholas Boguth


Investing is risky: the price of securities can go down, but there are strategies to help mitigate this risk: diversifying and sticking to your plan.

The chart below shows the price return (gray bar) and the largest intra-year decline (red dot) of the S&P 500 since 1980. This is one of my favorite charts because it reminds me that stock prices have indeed gone down at some point during EVERY year, but ultimately returned a positive number a vast majority of the time.

It states an appalling statistic: the average intra-year decline of the S&P 500 over this period is more than 14%. I say appalling because despite the average decline being -14%, the average return by the end of each year is over 8%, and this does not even include dividends! This acts as a great reminder to stay invested and don’t change your plan when the markets take a dive.

Our ultimate goal is to diversify in order to reduce that average intra-year drawdown, without sacrificing too much return. It is not easy for most investors to stomach watching their money decline by 14%, which is why risk management is a key part of the investment process. The right amount of risk is going to be different for everyone; working with us to determine your financial goals and capacity/willingness to take risk is step one in building your personalized portfolio.

Nicholas Boguth is an Investment Research Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and an Investment Representative with Raymond James Financial Services.

This information has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Dividends are subject to change and are not guaranteed. Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will ultimately be successful, profitable nor protect against loss.