Logo for SYM Financial Advisors featuring the text "SYM" in large green font and "FINANCIAL ADVISORS" in smaller gray font. There is a graphic of two green, swooping lines beneath "SYM." The background is white.
A white sticky note clipped to a gray surface with a black binder clip. The note reads "To do list:" in blue, and "No thing!" in red cursive. The bottom-right corner of the sticky note is curled up, perhaps hinting at the satisfaction of a well-planned retirement plan.

Prepared…To Do Nothing

These last weeks, we’ve had more than our usual share of time to ourselves. There’s a lot happening in the world right now – and not a lot for us to do. This combination of an unsettled world plus leisure time can be a recipe for disaster. The extra thinking time may lead us to come up with new entries to add to our “worry wall.”

Perhaps your retirement plan has made that list. With recent events, will you still be able to retire according to your desired timeline?

A Changing Market

The market was continuing to exceed its all-time highs. Then it went off the rails in a very quick fashion. In just 21 short days, we went from an exhilarating bull market to a fear-filled bear market. To put that in perspective, it took three quarters of a year, or 274 days, to go from good to bad in the 2007 and 2008 market demise. This time, there simply was not a whole lot of opportunity to react.

Now, before we scrutinize our reaction speed, it should be properly noted that we believe a lack of action in the three weeks between bull and bear was the correct reaction. That’s right. A lack of action was the correct reaction. The reason we believe it was the correct reaction is that the time to prepare for trouble in the financial markets was long before March of 2020.

Preparation is the Key to Success

Don’t misunderstand; we believe preparation is key to retirement success. Conversations related to risk tolerance, time horizon, and savings rates are critical. But they should not occur in the middle of a market meltdown and global pandemic.

When the unforeseen occurs, retirement savers benefit most when they prepare in advance to do absolutely nothing. Retirement readiness is a marathon and not a sprint. The map that outlines the path to retirement is one of the long-term strategies and does not need to be adjusted on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Once a thoughtful and appropriate mix of stocks and bonds has been selected, it may be years before an adjustment is necessary. No matter what outside stimulus occurs.

SYM clients and plan participants understand that both market ebbs and flows can work to their advantage over time. We just have to remember to control what we can (the investment lineup) and not panic when the uncontrollable (the market) occurs. Over these last weeks, we’ve seen clients and plan participants calling to check-in or to increase savings or deferral rates, but very few have asked to adjust allocations. They were comfortably prepared to do nothing, trusting in their advisor to know when an opportunity would be ripe for tax-loss harvesting, rebalancing, and other offensive measures.

The Future of Your Retirement

We don’t know what the future holds. But, if we’re honest, we would have to admit that we never had the ability to tell the future and therefore haven’t lost anything in that respect.

So cheers to you, our SYM clients, for your well-centered perspective amid this current crisis. We know that not everyone feels as prepared to sustain this latest market dip. So, if you see an opportunity to make an introduction between SYM and a friend, neighbor, or coworker who could benefit from an individual discussion with a SYM advisor, or if you know of a retirement plan sponsor who may like to talk about a different level of plan interaction, please send them our way for a no-obligation assessment. We take pleasure in growing our community of clients and friends, just like we take pleasure in serving you.

Data Source: Bank of America Research Investment Committee

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