Letter to my future self when sh*t hits the fan

As we all know, the global investment market goes up as well as down.

But we should also all remember that, over the long term (decades), it only ever goes up.

However, there will be short term volatility and times when the markets quite simply just fall through the floor. The 2008 credit crunch is a perfect example, in your lives, of when markets plummeted. We call this ‘when sh*t hits the fan’.

You may get a sense from this previous blog about how markets and investments work. This should also give you a loose feel for Eelah’s investment philosophy and how we manage our clients’ money. Fundamentally, our core investment proposition is intentionally boring and intentionally simple.

So, where is the sophisticated part we harp on about? Oh, well that, my dear friends, is you, the client. Humans, by our very twisted nature, are complicated beings, full of emotions and biases. The difficulty comes in managing client emotions and behaviours during times of market uncertainty.

We often ask particularly nervous clients to write themselves a letter during the good times, i.e. when their investment portfolio has had a good run of returns - namely a “Bull Market”. What we’ve been experiencing now for nearly a decade is a Bull Market, which is actually close to breaking all sorts of records for its longevity.

This is a letter that we pull out when, after a circa 10-year bull run, markets start to plummet and the global media paint pictures of Armageddon (or “sh*t hits the fan”), to remind clients what they said during the good times.

I, as an irrational human being, who struggles to deal with my own personal financial situation and life subjectively, also need to have reminders of what do when fan and merde collide. I am sharing mine with you today:

 

Dear Alfie

How are you? Good looking as ever I hope.

You are reading this because sh*t has hit the fan in global markets and the media, your neighbour and your mates on Facebook have declared that the end is nigh and eternity will be sat out in a pit of doom and misery. But remember, you wrote this during the good times and the good times will soon return. Here’s what you’re writing to yourself to remember.

Do not panic - ignore the noise. The fall in markets is actually EXPECTED. We have had many market drops in the past, probably way worse than the one you’re panicking about today.

Do not act - inaction is the ultimate action here. Do not sell everything/anything. Do not try and be smart. Do not try and predict what is coming next, cos you’ll only get it wrong. It may well be that the next 1-5 years are very difficult and full of gloom. But, the sun will rise again and in decades time you will be so grateful for your lack of action.

Do not drum up extra fear - don’t post stupid, negative, inaccurate, speculative crap on social media. Don’t add to the noise. In fact, tell your friends and loved ones about this letter, spread the long term vision. Spread the “invest and forget” protocol. Spread the “don’t watch the news it’s distracting” vibe, don’t add to it. Spread positivity and love. Things will be okay.

If you’re really struggling, call your financial planner - They will have wisdom for days. They will remind you of the above. They will know the true outcome of all this. This is when they are going to be of utmost value to you. USE THEM.

Kiss your loved ones, make jokes and laugh - because that’s what you do in the good times and this is no different, just a different part of the cycle. Don’t take your loved ones and the ability to laugh for granted. It doesn’t last forever.

Have a tremendous day.

Regards

Alfie…. AKA Financial Planner with lots of wisdom, AKA normal person with irrational behaviours and biases, AKA money professional who still needs help.

 

Alfie Mullan, October 2018.