Portfolio Reviews Remain Important Amid Low Volatility

While few if any investing professionals advocate for aggressive market timing, it is natural to ask the question of when the bull markets could cool—and how investors might respond now to address potentially uncompensated risk in their portfolios.

A new analysis published by Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, shows that 2017 “continues to break records for equity market performance, as the S&P [Standard & Poor’s] 500 Index makes new highs amid historically low volatility.”

As Detrick spells out, the broad equity market index’s average daily change on an absolute basis so far this year has been only 0.30%, “the smallest since 1965.”

“The index has closed lower [than] 1% or more only four times—the fewest for a full year since 1964,” Detrick says. “I feel like a broken record, but so many times when I’m talking about 2017, I usually say ‘the last time since 1964, 1965 or 1995 when making comparisons with 2017. Those three years are widely considered the least volatile years ever, and 2017 is right there with them trying to make the medal stand.”

While few if any investing professionals advocate for aggressive market timing, it is natural to ask the question of when the bull markets could cool—and how investors might respond now to address potentially uncompensated risk in their portfolios, while asset valuations are strong. In response, as Detrick and others observe, retirement investors may want to reconsider their investing time frame and their ability to stomach a potential downturn. Advisers and plan sponsors might also take the step of reiterating that participants must understand that lifecycle investing comes with both ups and downs—and that rashly pulling money out of falling markets is rarely a good move over the long run.

“One other amazing streak may take place at Monday’s close,” Detrick says. “The S&P 500, should it return at least -2.99%, will officially have gone 242 trading days—about 11.5 months—without a 3% correction, topping the record of 241 days set in 1995. If we jinx it and the S&P 500 falls 3%, we apologize, … but the last time the [index] closed down more than 3% the day after making a new all-time high was in November 1991, and [it] has made 474 new highs since then without a 3% drop the following day.”

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