by Ralf Sellig
What Should I Ask My Financial Advisor in the Wake of COVID-19?
Has the market hit bottom?
This question is on investors’ minds as the country continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, everything depends on how quickly the virus is contained and when authorities feel it’s safe to return to normalcy.
Until there’s a concrete plan in place, there are other questions you should ask your financial advisor right now. Making sure you’re still taking the right amount of risk, knowing the opportunities that are available to investors right now and understanding what you should do in the current market environment can help you weather the storm and put you in a better place for when the market does bounce back.
So, what should I ask my financial advisor? Below are 4 questions you’ll want answered.
Is My Risk Tolerance Still Appropriate?
Market volatility makes investors panic. Don’t. Our fight-or-flight instincts cause us to react out of fear when the opposite response might be best. We can also become overexuberant, not recognizing risk, when the market seems to rise every day. It’s important to remember your long-term goals and your investment objectives.
If the current drop in the market is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, discuss your current risk level with your financial advisor. Your risk tolerance should be based on a number of factors – not just your age, as some assume.
If you’re currently working with a financial advisor, he or she should review your current risk level with you to help you address any new concerns you have, understand your options and take the right steps to help you stay on course to reaching your goals.
If you’re not currently working with a financial advisor, or if you think you’re ready for a second opinion, contact the financial advisors at Lucas Capital Management. We’re here for you, whether you’re a current client or not.
Should I Sell?
At Lucas Capital Management, many clients are asking: If I leave my funds alone, will this get better? If I sell, when is it safe to get back into the market? These are good questions.
Discuss your situation with a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor who has a legal responsibility to put your best interests first and does not make a commission on the advice provided. Lower prices can be a good thing, despite what our natural instincts may tell us. You want to make sure you’re in the best position for when the market turns around.
Market volatility is a constant, so it’s almost impossible to time the market. Many DIY investors who try, find themselves in a worse situation. Having a long-term investment strategy is a better plan.
Should I Continue to Fund My Retirement Account?
Again, everyone’s situation is different, but if you can, you should try to continue your regular contributions to your retirement.
If you’re fortunate to be working right now, if you have an emergency fund you can rely on if your situation changes and if the assistance provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is enough to bridge any gaps in your income, then it makes sense to continue funding your retirement account. In fact, it may even be a good time to increase your contributions if possible.
If your paycheck has remained steady, yet you’re no longer paying for gas and commuting to and from work and/or spending money where you once were (going out to dinner, meeting friends for happy hour or spending the same on outside entertainment), you may find yourself with a little extra money. Investing this into your future can be very beneficial.
The best gift you can give your retirement funds is time. Even just a few hundred dollars extra can grow into thousands of dollars by the time you’re ready to retire.
You may also want to invest any stimulus money you may receive if you can make do without it. Another option is to use it to make bigger payments on your debts. One of the main things people spend too much money on is interest. If you can lower your debt, you have more money to invest in yourself.
It’s always wise to discuss your situation with a financial advisor before making any big changes to your financial plan. Even though it may seem like a small decision, one move can affect when you can retire, how you can retire and even what you’re able to leave behind when you’re gone.
What Do I Do Next?
These are unprecedented times, so there’s a lot of uncertainty.
While we may not have all the answers – no one can predict the future – talking with a seasoned professional can ease your stress level and put you on the right path. Making emotional decisions about your finances can be dangerous, and trying to figure it all out on your own can be overwhelming.
Surviving stressful times starts with asking the right questions. Your first question: What should I ask my financial advisor?