Forbes: How To Prepare For A Market Crash
Article by Simon Moore on Forbes
The prospect of a market crash gets more attention than it should. Nonetheless, it's a constant possibility. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.
Market crashes are far more common in our imagination than in reality. This is because they are vivid and scary events. While, this may have been useful in helping us avoid getting eaten by tigers, it's less useful for rational, disciplined stock market investing. By thinking this topic through now, hopefully you're a little better prepared when the next crash hits.
Preparation is key. The best time to react to any potential market crash is before it occurs. Not after. Reacting in the moment can lead to expensive and costly mistakes.
Though we don't know what will motivate a future market crash, it's likely to be something that will ultimately be recovered from, if history is any guide. The economy and society are very flexible. Industries, and even countries, can rise and fall over time, but if you have a global, well-diversified and lower cost portfolio, then you should be well-positioned. This is an area where diversification helps. If you spread your bets it will likely help. You'll probably find that the next crisis centers on a specific country, part of the globe or investment theme. If you've spread your bets through diversification, then you'll undoubtedly have some assets that fall in value, perhaps alarmingly, but often certain assets can do well during certain crises such as high-quality bonds, more defensive or inexpensive parts of the stock market, or commodities including gold.
Crashes are a fact of life
Rather than trying to time the market, which is incredibly hard to do and often counterproductive, it can be helpful to remember that the attractive long-term returns to the stock market include many market crashes. Depending on your measurement criteria, time-period and exactly what index you look at, well-diversified portfolio have averaged returns of around 6%-10% a year over time.
Now is the time to make sure you have a portfolio that you could live with through a crash. The time to work out the right allocation for you is now. If you don't, you'll experience the worst of both worlds. You'll likely see the greatest losses during the crash, but also fail to benefit fully from any recovery. If you prepare ahead of time, you'll be better able to ride out any market events.
There are a few things to bear in mind here. The first is that investors can overestimate their ability to endure losses during the good times. So be a little more conservative in your allocation than you might think. Also, it's not just about having nerves of steel, it's also about how soon you'll need the money in your portfolio. Even if you are a fearless and disciplined investor, it doesn't matter if you need to spend down a big chunk of your portfolio each year. Regardless of your temperament you'll be a forced seller in a weak market, and therefore, considering having some of your assets more conservatively positioned so that they are a more robust source of cash when you need them can make sense.