Fidelity Shares Lessons for Enduring Market Volatility

Baby Boomers’ average 401(k) account balance in June 2007 was $115,000, but those who continued to contribute to their account saw that balance grow to $315,000 as of this past June.

In the decade since the Great Recession of 2007, Fidelity Investments has found mixed reactions from investors who have been with the markets since that time.

Those who did not flee to cash but remained invested have portfolios that are 50% higher than those who sought safety, Fidelity found. However, 25% of people have reassessed how much risk they can handle and have moved to more conservative portfolios, where they have remained in the past 10 years.

Today, only 38% of people feel more confident in their investment approach than they did in 2007, down from 48% in 2012.

“Although there are many reasons why people chose to exist the market, looking back a decade later, investors who managed to stay the course have enjoyed better results,” says Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement at Fidelity. “What we’ve seen in the ensuring years is proof that the most prudent investors are those who resist being reactive and instead keep their financial objectives firmly in mind by looking past market volatility. No one knows when the next market downturn will take place, but those who learned from the last great financial crisis are more likely to be better positioned to weather future financial storms.”

Fidelity notes that from late 2007 to early 2009, the S&P 500 lost 40% of its value; however, between June 2007 to today, the S&P is up 97%.

Four Lessons From the Great Recession

Fidelity says the first lesson investors should take to heart is to keep their eyes on the long term. Baby Boomers’ average 401(k) account balance in June 2007 was $115,000. Boomers who continued to contribute to their account saw that balance grow to $315,000 this past June—a near tripling of wealth in 10 years.

The second lesson investors should consider, Fidelity says, is to save more and reduce debt. The company’s survey of 1,205 investors asked them what actions steps they have taken since the Great Recession. Thirty-six percent said it has been to reduce debt, and 26% said it has been to save more. Fidelity says its recordkeeping data shows that retirement plan participants saved an average of 7.7% of their salaries as of the second quarter of 2007. A full decade later, that is now 9.5%.

The third lesson, according to Fidelity, is to have a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and cash. The fourth and final lesson Fidelity offers to investors is to work with a financial adviser. Fidelity found from its survey that those investors who have an adviser are saving more (31% versus 23%) and are more confident about their approach to investing than those who do not have an adviser (50% versus 31%).

Hevert notes that by working with an adviser, investors are more likely to remain committed to the markets.