Many Filipinos today are concerned about their health and finances. The fear and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic raises a lot of questions on how we should navigate during this time of distress and uncertainty. Should we even be investing at all?
This article will help ease your worries and allow you to take action on things you can still control right at this moment.
Are you ready? Let’s begin.
1. Acknowledge the situation but avoid emotional decisions
The prices of your investments are significantly lower today than it was before coronavirus happened. It’s a bitter reality but something investors must acknowledge. Knowing where you are today allows you to make the best decisions for your future.
Right now, we are in an uncertain time of a pandemic. When pandemics or other similar crisis happens like the 2008 financial crisis, sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing. Unless you consider yourself an investing expert, your face isn't the only thing you shouldn't be touching during this outbreak; your investments too.
It is a good time to review the difference between paper and actual loss. When the market is down, most investors do not lose real money. What they have is an unrealized loss or paper loss. It only becomes an actual loss when you sell your investments at an unfavorable price.
Fund managers will know what to do during crisis. If you have invested in mutual funds, let the experts navigate through the risks and opportunities during this pandemic.
“In the past global health scares, we saw global equities rally 3.08% on a 3-month basis, and 8.50% on a six-month basis. This goes to show that, while there is major impact in the economy right now, prospects of recovery is there. Don’t let fear sway you from your investment plans”, says Michael Enriquez, Chief Investment Officer at Sun Life Philippines.
2. Review your risk tolerance
How did you react at the announcement of an extended community quarantine? What were your main concerns? Did this include lack of cash or emergency funds? How do you feel about the market breakdown?
According to Michael Manuel, Chief Market Development Officer of Sun Life Asset Management, it is easy to have high self-esteem and take more risks when the market is performing well. It is possible that during a bull market, an investor will invest more and over-extend their position than what they are really capable of.
Now that we are in a crisis, it is a good time to review our true ability to take risks. This is also the reason why working with a financial advisor is essential. Overestimating (and underestimating) your risk profile can be a costly mistake. As an example, someone who invested too little can miss growth opportunities to prepare for their future and someone who invested too much can expose themselves to more risks than they can afford. This includes taking actual loss if they need to sell their funds for lack of cash in times of crisis, such as the one we are enduring right now.
3. Maintain your good financial habits
Experts recommend having and sticking to a routine even during quarantine. Not only does this benefit our mental health but our sense of productivity as well.
When it comes to finances, a pandemic should not be an excuse to throw perfectly good money habits such as having a budget, mindful spending, and regular investing.
When the Luzon lockdown was first announced, many people rushed to the supermarkets to panic buy essentials. I wonder if many of us forgot about our budget in panic? It's really not easy to stick to one when there's a sense of scarcity. One can easily spend an entire month’s salary on toilet paper or corned beef in a frenzy.
Now that we are in the 4th week of this quarantine, we should try to regain our balance and not forget about the future that lies ahead of this crisis. It is the story of that bright future that we are investing on and if you ask the experts, the Philippines has the right amount of tools to make an economic recovery. So, better stay on course.
4. Top-up your investments if you have cash
The market looks like 2008, stocks are underpriced and investors can buy more with less. I remember a time when I wished that I invested back in 2008. If I did, I would have doubled my money! But who knew that except for those who did not panic, kept investing, and focused on opportunities instead?
According to Michael Manuel, Chief Market Development Officer of Sun Life Asset Management, your worst performing funds can be the best performing funds tomorrow. The longer we wait for market recovery, the farther behind we become in riding it.
Warren Buffett's famous saying bears repeating now, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy only when others are fearful.”
While it’s exciting to take this opportunity to accumulate and grow your investments, it’s also important not to invest more than you can. It's a bad idea to take short-term funds for food, shelter, and education, and put them all into an investment.
Don't let fear steer you away from your investment plans. Instead, take this rare chance to review your priorities and find opportunities to improve your financial position in the future. Remember, always be a smart investor. How would you like your investment portfolio to look like in 3-5 years from now?