Opinion

Nine rules for investors to keep in mind in troubled times

By Dr Shane Oliver
Head of Investment Strategy and Economics and Chief Economist, AMP Capital Sydney, Australia

When share markets and other growth-related assets enter periods of intense volatility, people tend to lose sight of the basic reason they invest their money in them in the first place: to take advantage of the power of compounding returns.

This is a fundamental rule for investing, no matter what the prevailing conditions, and in general it means you have to be in the market, not out, if you want to your investments to reach their potential.

For as long as we continue to live in interesting times, here are eight other rules to bear in mind and keep you focussed on those compounding returns:

Invest for the long term

Historically, one of the most reliable way to generate wealth from investing is to hold positions for extended periods of time, absorbing pull backs and building on long-term market growth. Over the past 20-years, for Australian shares the All Ordinaries Accumulation Index has delivered annualised returns of 7.4%1  p.a. (before franking credits) despite three global contractions (the dot-com bubble, the 08-09 Financial Crisis and the current coronavirus pandemic).

Don’t get thrown off by the cycle

All asset classes generally go through good and bad cyclical phases. Some cycles could be considered as short term, such as the occasional correction. Medium-term business cycles could take place over three-to-five years. Longer cycles could see secular swings over 10-to-20 years in equity markets. There has been even the longer bull market in bonds which has occurred over 35 years since the early 1980s. It’s important to try and avoid being thrown off well thought-out long-term investment strategies by cyclical swings in markets. Of course, cyclical events can also create opportunities.

Turn down the noise

It can be easy to get caught up in panic and drama. Try switching off the nightly news before the finance segment begins and watch some bad reality television instead.

Buy low and sell high

It seems simple, but too many people sell out of a position after a fall in the market. For all the above reasons, it’s usually an incredibly bad idea, and can simply serve to lock in your losses.

Beware the crowds

Shares tend to bottom out at the point of maximum bearishness. Look for the bargains when everyone else is running for the exits and be wary of being late to move on a market rally.

Diversify

As the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates, market turmoil falls unevenly across different stocks and sectors. It’s a lot easier to accept market risk if you can minimise sector and company-specific risk through diversification.

Keep it simple

Don’t overcomplicate matters - focus on investments that you understand, and which provide decent, sustainable cash flows.

Finally, it’s never a bad idea to seek advice. There’s a lot to be said for a second opinion, especially from someone who has been through downturns before.

1 As at 30 June 2020, Bloomberg, AMP Capital

  • Economics & Markets
  • Multi-Asset
  • Opinion
  • SMSF News
Share this article
Subscribe to SMSF News

Subscribe today to receive a must-read weekly publication for any SMSF trustee

You may also be interested in...

You may also be interested in...

You may also be interested in...

You may also be interested in...

Our Privacy Policy explains how we handle personal information and use cookies and website tracking. We will follow the cookie and tracking settings you have selected in your browser.

Important notes

While every care has been taken in the preparation of these articles, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in them including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Performance goals are merely goals. There is no guarantee that the strategy will achieve that level of performance. The information in this document contains statements that are the author’s beliefs and/or opinions. Any beliefs and/or opinions shared are as at the date shown and are subject to change without notice. These articles have been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. They should not be construed as investment advice or investment recommendations. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs.

This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided and must not be provided to any other person or entity without the express written consent of AMP Capital.

Cookies & Tracking on our website.  We use basic cookies to help remember selections you make on the website and to make the site work. We also use non-essential cookies, website tracking as well as analytics - so we can amongst other things, show which of our products and services may be relevant for you, and tailor marketing (if you have agreed to this). More details about our use of cookies and website analytics can be found here
You can turn off cookie collection and/or website tracking by updating your cookies & tracking preferences in your browser settings.