If you’re thinking of investing in stocks but you’re concerned about which direction the stock market will move, here’s what you need to know:
If you are a new investor with a long-term perspective, it shouldn’t matter which direction the stock market moves in the short term. What you should know is that a bull market (up market) generally follows a bear (down) market. On average, bear markets in the United States last about 11 months, while bull markets average 32 months. In the past, the average bear market decline was 27%, while the average bull market gain was 119%, though past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
Remember that historically down markets were temporary. More importantly, not only does a bull market erase declines, but in the past, the gains of the previous bull market were extended significantly. Will it always be that way? Unfortunately, no one knows.
Diversification is key to long-term performance
The key to capturing the upside returns of the stock market while minimizing downside risk is diversification. Diversification is a strategy that recognizes the uncertainty in how stocks from various sectors will perform at any time and it tries to balance your portfolio by spreading out risk among various assets. Instead of buying dozens of individual stocks, you can diversify with index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
With ETFs and index funds, your investments can be allocated among different types of stock indices to achieve a risk/return profile that matches your own risk tolerance.
If you work with a licensed financial professional who understands your objectives and risk profile, you can create a diversified portfolio that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about investing in stocks by watching this 10-minute video Profile-Financial.com/stocks
Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.
Published July 3, 2017. Updated January 2021