One of the biggest challenges for investors is staying invested as markets sell off. Every up and down swing creates strong emotional reactions and constant second guessing. Periods of high volatility can last for weeks or months and are emotionally draining. While it may feel like you are doing nothing by staying invested during these periods, you are likely avoiding costly mistakes by not compounding an already difficult situation.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as markets had several positive days. Don’t be surprised, however, if markets drop suddenly and test or breach previous lows several times over the next few weeks or months. Much like flying through a thunderstorm, there are likely to be some bumpy times ahead. No matter how many times you have flown, your heart jumps every time the aircraft drops. Fortunately, there is no need to time the bottom for long-term investors.
The next several weeks are going to be challenging for advisors and investors. The reality of the scope and severity of the pandemic along with the associated economic and market damage will hit home raising fear levels to new highs. In these times, it will be hard not to overreact, panic or lose hope. Strong emotions and behavioral biases including, anchoring, loss aversion, cascading and availability bias can cloud our thinking and lead to poor decision making. Engaging in realistic and practical planning discussions along with relevant behavioral coaching can provide essential support during these challenging times.
We make 95% of our decisions using Systems 1 Thinking that is automatic and emotional using mental shortcuts. Systems 2 Thinking, by contrast, requires conscious effort with logical thinking and analytical methods. Long-term investing is often counterintuitive and requires a disciplined System 2 approach. Bear markets compound our normal biases generating strong emotional triggers that can result in poor decision making.
These are uncertain times. We work with great advisors that have shared their observations and resources with us and we thought you might find some of this helpful.
Our primary objective at Athena is to generate long-term performance for our clients. A major contributor to that end is avoiding costly mistakes or compounding an already difficult situation. Beneficial long-term decisions often feel counterintuitive at the time, but don’t underestimate the value of a steady hand when things seem the most grim.