What I Miss?

Bill Parrott |

The NASDAQ, Dow Jones, and S&P 500 are posting positive returns over the past year, and the NASDAQ is up more than 9% for the year. These leading indices were down more than 30% less than three months ago as investors reacted to the COVID-19 virus. Since the virus outbreak, our country has experienced depression-era economic data and witnessed civil unrest. Investors have been scratching their heads to try and reconcile the performance in the stock market with the reality on the streets.

The stock market is up more than 40% from the March 23 low, and it has turned in the best 50-day performance in history. It’s hard to fathom a stock market trading at all-time highs while our economy and cities struggle. We have experienced the worst pandemic in more than 100 years, the bleakest economy since the depression, and, according to some, racial tensions not seen since 1968. However, the market is forward-looking and data-driven, and it’s anticipating our country will realize better days ahead.

In March, investors, and a few financial professionals, panicked. One prominent investment firm in Texas sold their client’s entire stock holdings in early March to ride out the storm. I believe his clients are still in cash.  A renowned hedge fund manager said, “Hell is coming.”[1] Another stated, “I would say it’s one of the most overvalued, maybe the second-most overvalued I've seen.”[2] Sometimes the safest investment strategy is to do nothing. And trying to time the market is a fool’s errand

With hindsight, market timing appears easy, but it’s not. It’s impossible. Boeing is now trading above $200, so buying it in March at $95 seemed like a no brainer. But, at the time, airline capacity had fallen by 95%, and Boeing was battling the government to obtain certification for its 737 Max. There are twenty-two analysts that follow Boeing, and their average price target is $157, or 26% below its current price.[3] Despite Boeing's recent performance, it is still down 47% from its high.

After more than thirty years in the investment business, I’m still looking for a better strategy than buy and hold. Owning a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost funds is still hard to beat. During the first few weeks of the market rout, bonds performed well. They provided safety and support.  As the market recovered, the baton was passed to different asset classes like growth stocks, value stocks, international companies, emerging markets, real estate, and small-cap stocks. Each sector performed well at one time or another. Each category contributed to the performance of the portfolio.

Our investment models were active during the market correction. They are designed to keep our client’s asset allocation and risk tolerance in check. Initially, we were selling bonds to buy stocks, and then as the market rebounded significantly, we sold stocks to buy bonds. At one point, our models were allocating money to real estate funds, despite being down more than 40%. I was hyperventilating as our software allocated funds to this asset class. The real-estate allocation has been a stellar performing asset class over the past couple of months, outperforming most of our other asset classes. Our models are now in positive territory for the past year.

A globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds is not sexy. While some funds are rising, others are falling. It seems I’m forever apologizing for an underperforming asset class. Investors, apparently, only want to own funds that grow in value, but the funds are always changing leadership positions, which is the root of diversification.

What is the best way to find a portfolio that is the right fit for you? A financial plan is a powerful tool to help you define and refine your goals. Your advisor will use the data to align your investments with your objectives. If your finances are in sync with your aspirations, you’re more likely to stay invested through thick and thin. As the markets fell, we were regularly stress-testing our client’s financial plans, and the drop impacted not one. Despite the rout, our client’s financial plans remained intact. If your strategy is working and you’re on track to reach your goals, do not make any changes, and dare to stay invested.

Most experts do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the stock market has been tormenting professionals for centuries. Do not let the opinions of others derail your dreams. Instead, focus on your goals, think long-term, pay attention to your plan, and hold onto your investments.

“Sometimes, the most important thing to do is to do nothing.” ~  Debasish Mridha

June 5, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and are not suitable for every investor.