Local experts share advice on saving for the future, from advice on diversifying your investments, the best time to invest and weathering volatile markets.
Only approximately 15 percent of today’s private-sector employees have a retirement pension plan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey for 2017. For the vast majority, future financial security depends solely on saving, and meeting your financial goals can be daunting.
“It’s easy to forget to save for the future,” says Phil Klevorn, senior vice president and private wealth regional manager at UMB Bank. “Many people think that saving enough for retirement is overwhelming or just outright impossible, but it is doable with a plan.” Creating that plan is often easier with the help of a financial advisor or investment strategist who will help craft a plan based specifically on each individual’s situation and needs.
Begin by meeting with two or three different advisors to get a sense of the best fit for your personality and goals, suggests Bob Wacker, senior vice president for investments with Wells Fargo Advisors. “Ask what [his or her] typical client is like, what types of services [he or she] offer, and how and when you can expect [him or her] to communicate with you.”
He emphasizes that advisors should explain how they work with clients to develop a financial plan, monitor and review that plan, and make sure financial goals are achieved along the way. They also should be transparent about how they charge for their services.
Patrick Britt, a managing director at Clayton Financial Group, notes that investments are just one aspect of good financial planning. “Other areas, such as income tax planning, education funding, risk management (life, health, disability and long-term care insurance) and estate planning should all be considered and reviewed,” he says. “It’s never too early – or late – to build a plan or start investing. There’s an ever-increasing number of options out there for investors to get started, but doing one’s due diligence and finding someone that you can trust are key.”
When it comes to investments, it’s important to consider your overall financial goals, risk tolerance and anticipated time frame. Good financial plans contain a mix of short-, medium- and long-term investments. “Having some liquidity is key,” Wacker says, adding that being able to access the funds needed to cover living expenses for a couple of years is important in case of job loss. Although some investments are designed to be held for many years, others, such as cash accounts, short-duration income bonds or certificates of deposit, provide short-term financial security.
Britt agrees that diversification is extremely important to an investor’s long-term success. “We want to spread our ‘eggs’ into as many different baskets (asset categories) as we can – this reduces the volatility of the overall portfolio.”
In fact, volatility is a current issue in investment circles since stock markets bounced up and down in the first quarter of 2018. “As you begin, make sure you understand the risks, and invest with intent,” Klevorn says. “You are more susceptible to losses in a bear market, so diversify your portfolio to help mitigate risk.”
However, most investors will see multiple bear and bull markets during their investing life, Wacker adds. “Volatility is normal, so you really have to look at the big picture in terms of your plan and mix of investments.”
Especially when the markets are volatile, advisors agree that panic is the worst possible response. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett famously said: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” In other words, down markets can be good buying opportunities for long-term investors.
“A common message to our clients is to stay the course and remain disciplined to our rebalancing strategy in both up and down markets,” Britt says. “It is key to condition yourself to not make rash, emotional decisions in times of economic downturn. If your portfolio is positioned appropriately in the first place, you should be able to weather the storm.”
Clayton Financial Group, 165 N. Meramec Ave., St. Louis, 314-446-3250, claytonfinancialgroup.com
UMB Bank, 7700 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, 314-719-4376,
Wells Fargo Advisors, 8112 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314-746-2919, wellsfargoadvisors.com