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Due to the current realities, all of us at Intercontinental are working from home. Like you, we are taking care to follow the safety guidelines, and trying to deal with the disruptions happening in our lives.

Depending on where you sit in the world, things may feel a little odd from time to time. We hope you are weathering whatever personal storms there are as best you can. Please know that we are here for you, so do not hesitate to reach out if you’d like to have a virtual meeting or quick conversation.

While we are diligently monitoring our clients’ portfolios and financial needs, we recognize that there are many other issues facing people during these challenging times. Therefore, we are sending out a series of emails with information and insights that we hope will be helpful to you and your loved ones. Click here to contact us and/or join our email list.

Please continue to read on for this installment – and watch for future insights to arrive as the months unfold.

Managing the Stress of Market Volatility

When markets are volatile, it’s understandable that many investors become anxious. Given the current situation with the Covid-19 virus, there are all too many things contributing to people’s anxiety levels. At Intercontinental Wealth Advisors (“IWA”), we can’t help with all of them, but we can offer some advice and guidance about understanding and dealing with the stress of portfolio fluctuation.

  • Manage your news consumption. Whether your anxiety has to do with your investments, your health, your family or your business, there’s a difference between following current events and fixating on them. It’s all too easy to allow ourselves to become inundated with “breaking news”, which goes beyond simply being informed, often leading to being overwhelmed. In that situation, it’s hard to retain your long-term perspective. Try to maintain a reasonable schedule of news consumption without being glued to your television, phone or computer 24/7.
  • Try not to panic; remember the evidence. When markets are good, we all feel good. But when things get rocky, it can be hard not to panic. If you find yourself thinking about bailing out during a severe market downturn, it’s probably your fear and self-doubt talking. It’s important to heed what decades of practical and academic evidence have taught our team at IWA. Capital markets’ long-term trajectories have been upward. If you sell when markets are down, you’re more likely to lock in permanent losses rather than coming out ahead.
  • Revisit your investment plan. When we created your investment portfolio, we followed a thoughtful strategy of allocating to various asset classes, with global diversification and an evidence-based approach. Now is the right time to engage with your IWA Advisor, getting a refresher on the strategy and discussing why the best course of action is to stick with the plan.
  • Take a look at your tax strategy. Depending on your specific circumstances, now might be a good time to consider some tax-loss harvesting. A successful tax-loss harvest lowers your tax bill without substantially altering or impacting your long-term investment outcomes. This approach is best implemented in coordination with your accountant and investment advisor, each of whom have experience addressing the challenges and complexities of such action.
  • Revisit your tolerance for risk. When you undertake an investment strategy, you commit to accepting a certain measure of market risk in exchange for expected returns. When times are good, we may think we’re comfortable with a lot of risk, when, in fact, we really aren’t. If you struggle with even modest market declines, you may reach a breaking point during deep declines. If you’re feeling a disturbing sense of unease, please reach out to your IWA Advisor to share your concerns and discuss your portfolio.

If, on the other hand, you’ve got nerves of steel, market downturns may be a time to take advantage of lower prices. This is not for the timid, and certainly not something to be done without careful analysis done in conjunction with your IWA Advisor.

Intercontinental CEO John Kauth has a metaphor he likes to use to explain behavior bias:

Many people think about the stock market quite differently than they think about other things. For example: You see a pair of shoes you really like that cost $100, but you don’t buy them. The next day, you see them again, and they’re now priced at $80. You're more motivated to want to buy those shoes. Yet if your portfolio's worth $100 today and $80 tomorrow, the tendency is to want to sell the portfolio, not buy more. I think emotion is one of the biggest deterrents of portfolio performance for investors because the tendency is to get out when the market’s going down and not want to get back in until it’s gone back up.

The team at Intercontinental Wealth Advisors is always here for you. We don’t know how severe this downturn will be, or how long it will last. But we do know that market volatility and moderate to severe corrections are inevitable; we also fully expect they’ll eventually recover and continue upward.

Whatever you’re feeling, whatever questions or concerns you have, we’re here to listen and help you through them.

“Choosing what to ignore – turning off constant market updates, tuning out pundits purveying the latest Armageddon – is critical to maintaining a long-term focus.” – Jason Zweig, The Wall Street Journal

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to talk about anything related to your health, wealth and well-being. And if you think that other people in your life could benefit from reading this message, please feel free to pass it on.

Wishing you good health and a return to normalcy,
Charlie Lutz
President of Intercontinental Wealth Advisors