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Don't panic: Financial advisors urge calm after volatile 2018

Last Updated Dec 31, 2018 at 12:19 pm PDT

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been a strange year for investors, and some financial advisors have been getting more calls from clients concerned about volatility and their RRSPs.

As we look to 2019, we’re checking in with some of those investment specialists.

The ups and downs have been a bit more extreme at points this year — a 1,000-point increase for the DOW on Boxing Day — then a 600 point drop at one point the next day, before eventually recovering.

Matthew Bowyer at Bowyer Financial says his clients have been sharing concerns about the big jumps.

“We’ve definitely had an increase in the amount of phone calls and emails we’ve received from clients,” he said. “Mostly along the lines of being concerned if this impacts whether or not they’re on track for retirement, or if they’re in retirement, if this is impacting their retirement, and basically if their financial plan is still on track.”

So what should we do heading into 2019?

“Not to panic, not to make rash decisions,” Bowyer said of advice he’s giving to those who have concerns.

“Human beings have a long, long, long history of making the wrong decisions when it comes to the stock market, and particularly with their investments. It’s very normal for people when the markets go down, to panic and consider selling or moving more conservative, which is often the worst decision you can make — by that time, the markets have already gone down, so all you’re doing is locking in your losses.”

Investment advisor Shaun Rickerby with TD Wealth Private Investment Advice in Richmond says it’s worth rebalancing your portfolio if needed — but don’t necessarily rush into big changes.

“My own view is to always have a balanced portfolio at all times,” Rickerby said.

“Even my most aggressive of clients, I’m going to recommend a certain degree of fixed income to their portfolio. It gives them the flexibility to make opportunistic purchases. Have a look at the portfolio, have a chat with your investment advisor, and form no judgement about the past — just learn from the experiences of the last year, and just have a reflection — is this the asset allocation moving forward?”

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“If a tweak is appropriate, that’s great. But I use the phrase ‘an evolution’ of your portfolio might be called for. A ‘revolution’ in your portfolio is probably unwise.”

Over at BlueShore Financial, financial advisor Scott Evans advises people not to rush into decisions based on the latest headlines.

“Resist the temptation of market timing,” he said. “That can really be your own worst enemy if you let fear guide you. There’s nobody who’s been successful in getting in and out of the markets consistently and having a long term view is what’s going to pay off to help you achieve those longer term goals.”