Markets continued their record-setting ways, setting new, all-time highs again in June. Stocks are generally buoyed by strong economic reports in relation to employment, wages and consumer sentiment.
The all-time highs may leave some retirement plan investors with portfolios that are out of balance. GuideStone® participants can receive help with their long-term investment allocations by accessing the resources on the Retirement Planning and Guidance page (GuideStoneRetirement.org/InvestmentAdvice), which include GuideStone’s Investment Recommendation tool.
“Markets are cyclical,” GuideStone president O.S. Hawkins said. “In the market valleys, it can feel like they may never recover, and at the peaks, it may feel as if they may never decline again. We know that the markets have historically rewarded those with a long-term focus, but prolonged market upswings can leave a portfolio out of balance. Looking at your portfolio and ensuring it is properly diversified given your time horizon and risk tolerance — and making strategic, focused changes, if needed — is a smart way to ensure you’re prepared for a downturn in the markets.”
The market’s upward movement is primarily due to several factors, including expectations that the Federal Reserve is pivoting to a more accommodative mode — a move echoed by other global central banks — and, to a lesser degree, confidence that the United States and China will come to a conclusion on the trade dispute between the two nations, GuideStone Capital Management, LLC® chief investment officer Matt L. Peden said. The accommodative monetary policies exhibited by the central banks theoretically would increase economic activity and earnings.
“Consumer and business confidence measures remain high, which is a good sign for economic activity, earnings and eventually stock prices,” Peden said. “The market tends to be positive for equities (stocks) right after expectations are for the Fed to cut rates.”
That is not to say there are no clouds on the horizon, Peden emphasized.
“We are seeing a global slowdown in economic activity, including here in the United States,” he said, noting that earnings among the S&P 500® companies declined 2.6% year-over-year during the second quarter, the first back-to-back quarterly decline since 2016. “Our concern is that earnings drive stock prices, and we are seeing earnings decline relative to previous periods.”
Peden said it’s important for investors to re-evaluate long-term risk/return objectives and understand that stocks will not always go up.
“Stay tethered to your long-term plan and asset allocation for long-term retirement assets,” Peden said.
Hawkins echoed those sentiments.
“Market fluctuations will always occur, but long-term retirement investors must keep their eye focused on their goals, including being financially ready for retirement,” Hawkins said.
One resource GuideStone retirement plan participants can consider is the MyDestination Funds®, GuideStone’s Target Date Funds series, which will maintain an age-appropriate portfolio diversification. The Target Date Funds provide a simpler approach to retirement planning. Investors simply choose the Fund that corresponds most closely to their retirement date. Each Target Date Fund is a “fund-of-funds” with a diversified asset allocation that’s more aggressive when the investor is younger and gradually becomes more conservative as the investor approaches and moves through retirement.
Whether markets are performing at all-time highs, in seasons of volatility or market decline, GuideStone experts recommend four basic principles for retirement plan investors.
- Always focus on your long-term objectives, not your emotions. Specifically regarding retirement participants, these assets are to serve your needs for a long period of time. Make sure your objectives and actions are consistent with your time horizon.
- Avoid making impulsive decisions. Making changes based on short-term market moves is almost a guarantee for failure as it promotes buying high and selling low. The performance of your account moving forward will be determined based on results of the financial markets in the future, not the past. Investors cannot sell yesterday’s losses or buy yesterday’s gains.
- Don’t count losses (or gains). Consistent contributions to a retirement plan afford investors a systematic way of taking advantage of investment opportunities as markets ebb and flow.
- Maintain realistic expectations about market behavior. Financial markets in the short term tend to fluctuate in response to social, political and economic events. However, historically, the markets stabilize and return to profitability over the long term, focusing on the underlying fundamentals.
The MyDestination Funds® (“Funds”) attempt to achieve their objectives by investing in the GuideStone Select Funds and other investments. The Funds are managed to a retirement date (“target date”) by adjusting the percentage of fixed income securities and equity securities to become more conservative each year until reaching the retirement year and then approximately 15 years thereafter. The target date in the name of the Funds is the approximate date when an investor plans to start withdrawing money. The expense ratio for the Funds includes the expenses of the underlying Select Funds. The principal risks of the Funds will change depending on the asset mix of the Select Funds in which they invest. You may directly invest in the Select Funds and other investments. The Funds’ value will go up and down in response to changes in the share prices of the investments that they own. The amount invested in the Funds is not guaranteed to increase, is not guaranteed against loss, nor is the amount of the original investment guaranteed at the target date. It is possible to lose money by investing in the Funds.
You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the GuideStone Funds® before investing. For a copy of the prospectus with this and other information about the Funds, please download a prospectus at GuideStoneFunds.com/Funds or call 1-888-GS-FUNDS (1-888-473-8637). You should read the prospectus carefully before investing.
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention®.
Director of Denominational and Public Relations Services
GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
Roy.Hayhurst@GuideStone.org | (214) 720-2141