2019 Will Be a Hard Act to Follow

2019 Will Be a Hard Act to Follow

| January 02, 2020
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Investors may find themselves reluctant to ring out the old and ring in the new this week. During 2019, stock and bond markets delivered exceptional returns. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s reported the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 23 percent at the end of last week, the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index had gained 29 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 36 percent. The S&P 500 and Dow both closed at all-time highs.

Bond indices showed gains in the United States and around the world. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Total Return Index was up 8.87 percent at the end of last week. Its global counterpart, the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Total Return Index, was up 6.63 percent for the same period.

After a year like 2019, when stock indices delivered exceptional returns, investors’ perceptions about their appetite for risk can change. Great market performance has a way of persuading people their tolerance for risk is higher than it has been in the past.

The phenomenon has something to do with recency bias, which is a tendency to remember and weight recent events more heavily than past events. In other words, during bull markets some people tend to forget about bear markets.

2019 was a wonderful year, but not every year will be like 2019. At the end of last week, the average annual return for the S&P 500 Index over the last 60 years, with dividends reinvested, was about 9.5 percent. 

The fact that 2020 may not be like 2019 does not mean it’s time to sell. Successful financial plans and investment strategies should include well-diversified portfolios that are grounded in the investor’s life and financial goals. Every strategy and portfolio should be reviewed periodically and modified when goals have changed, a major life event has occurred, or the investor’s risk tolerance has changed.

If you would like to talk about your strategy and review your portfolio allocations, give us a call. We’d like to hear from you.

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