How do I bear up in a Bear Market?

shutterstock_104159111If you are an investor who remembers the mortgage debt crisis of 2008-9, you know that the market lost significant value. From an investment standpoint, the real downside occurred precisely when some investors sold off their equity holdings due to fear mid-way or near the end of the market devaluation.

Hindsight is 20-20 The people who financially survived this market anomaly were the ones who did not sell their good stocks and/or equities held by investment funds. Many risk-averse investors who may have been tempted to sell but did not, in the long run, received a blessing in disguise! They had an opportunity to hold on and patiently watch their funds’ unit values increase again in one of the longest bull market periods to 2014.

Investor risk is part of life in this world Massive debt held collectively by individuals, companies or sovereign nations can have an indirect effect on currencies, bond markets, and interest rates. Geopolitics, macro- and microeconomics, corporate banking and/or national solvency, all pose significant fiscal risk to the world’s capital markets.

Bull and Bear markets are cyclic If there is a warning of a hurricane, you know it is coming and don’t pitch your tent near the beach. Yet, with the stock market, you rarely know when a correction or a bear market is coming (when the stock markets decline 15-20% value for a period of time). Investment fund managers will work to retain your value while looking forward to the markets’ recovery in these periods. The nature of the market is cyclic. The smart investor who is well studied and cautious is nevertheless a risk taker, realizing that one must hold on to investments patiently until the stocks held in the fund portfolio regain any lost value and enter a rising bull market period.

The market moves in mysterious ways Though the major world stock markets went through a correction in early 2015, we saw some major markets in North America break records. On March 12, 2015,  for example, though four of our Canadian banks were down below 10-17% from their 52 week high, the Canadian TSX was only a quarter of a percent below on the same day.  This shows how various sectors can be in or out of favour, and move up and down due to market concerns. Despite the TSX doing well, on March 12, 2015, the TSX Energy sector was down 38% due to the oil prices dropping worldwide, presently a great time to buy when stock prices are lower in energy-related investments.

Moving money in a family of funds Most funds allow you to move a portion or all of your money into money market, bond and/or balanced funds amidst an investment fund family (those offered by the same company); or your advisor may be able to move them into an alternate investment vehicle.

Buy more fund units when prices drop Consider seeking opportunity among bargain-priced investment fund units. In this way, wealth can be created when buying stocks of many companies held by the investment funds when they are priced lower. If you take this strategy you must be ready to stay invested over the long haul.

An effective strategy Dollar cost averaging (DCA) involves buying fund units at regular intervals, investing the same amount of money each time. Thus, you buy more fund units when the value is lower, and fewer when higher. DCA is probably the single smartest investment strategy to utilize during a long-term bear market because you increasingly purchase more fund units at lower prices. If you are not fully familiar with the benefits of that concept, talk to your investment fund representative.

Insofar as you realize the risk of investing to produce long-term gain and beat inflation you can make bear markets work for you if you are patient. This is because a bear market paves the way to the next bull market when rising prices may take your investment funds higher in value.