By Sallie Krawcheck, Chair, Ellevate Network and Co-Founder and CEO of Ellevest
There is lots (and lots) of advice from personal finance experts on what to do in market downturns, which typically boils down to, “Don’t just do something. Stand there.” (Though of course often blared in wall-to-wall coverage from business channels).
Okay, but...the genders do tend to behave differently.
So…gentlemen, quit looking at your investment portfolio. Step away. Seriously, step away. You know that’s only going to make you want to do something and trade more. And you know that the research shows that when you last did this in the downturn of 2007-2008, you traded out of stocks at the wrong time. As a result, many of you rode the market down. But then you didn’t ride the market back up.
And, guys, you’re in the danger zone. The CNN Fear and Greed Index has recently been at a 9. (That’s a 0 – 100 scale, with zero extreme fear and 100 extreme greed. So that’s a lot of fear.)
Ladies…as a group, you’re under-invested in comparison to the guys. You tend not to watch your portfolio like a hawk. You tend to take a longer-term view when investing. You tend not to trade as much. In terms of your concern over the market downturn, in this week’s Ellevate Network poll, more than two thirds of you describe yourselves as “a bit” concerned or “pretty relaxed.” So not a lot of fear. At least yet.
Your challenge is different. Your challenge is not to keep yourself from trading out of the market. Instead, it’s more about you getting in.
Whoa, you may say. Why would I get in now?
One reason is that stocks are less expensive than they were just a few weeks ago.
And if stocks keep going down? They could, of course. Here history is instructive: a really interesting study by CircleBlack showed that if you have historically taken a systematic approach to investing, downturns haven’t been as damaging as we typically imagine them to be. For example, if you invested $1,000 in the stock market at the beginning of 2008 (and remember what an awful year that was for stocks) and then you put in another $1,000 at the beginning of 2009, you would be back in the black by the end of 2009. The key here is to systematically invest. Sometimes that means you “buy high” and sometimes that means you “buy low.”
What about the Market Crash of 1929? With $1,000 in at the beginning of 1929, then another $1,000 at the beginning of 1930 and so on – it would have taken you seven years to recover. From the Crash of 1929. Better than you would have guessed, right?
The 1970s recession? Just three years til recovery.
Steady investments into the markets typically win the day. And while you might be better at this than most pros and you might be able to figure out the “best” time to invest, even if you didn’t, the downside was not as much as most people think it was, historically.
So, ladies, my best advice is to invest steadily.
Now back to you, guys. Again, step away from the computer. I’m serious.
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This article originally appeared in LinkedIn.