Investors Scared of Brexit: This Is What to Do Now

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It’s hard not to get spooked by the economic and financial uncertainty unleashed by Thursday’s Brexit stunner in Europe. And some investors getting close to retirement who haven’t paid much attention to their asset apportioning might want to make a few protective moves.

But much of the attorney coming from financial planners on Friday, as equity marketplaces plunge, is to keep calm and carry on, concentrates on the long term and resisting the temptation to hour the markets.

Investors should put Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in perspective, said certified financial planner Michael Kitces, of Pinnacle Advisory Group , noting that the U.K. is less than 4 percent of global gross domestic product. “For U.S. investors, “the fear of the things it could be is far worse than any of the outcomes it actually can be, ” he said.

Look back at the trauma over the Greek debt defaults a few years ago and how volatile the markets got, Kitces said. While it was agonizing for Greece and information sources of political and marketplace turmoil for Europe and investors around the world, in the end it didn’t turn out to be of tremendous economic consequence for U.S. investors. The U.K. is larger than Greece but is still relatively small in the grand scheme of the global economy, Kitces said.

Steady nerves are as important for investors now as they were in 2008, said certified financial planner Michael McKevitt, of Guillaume& Freckman in Palatine, Ill.

“The problem with selling now is that you have to get back into the market, ” he said. “When will the client who is nervous now not going to be nervous about buying back in? The answer is when there is less uncertainty, which, virtually by definition, is going to be when the market is higher.”

How Britain Voted: Brexit Results

For full coverage of the referendum, click here

Certified financial planner Ian Weinberg, chief executive officer of Family Wealth and Pension Management in Woodbury, N.Y ., doesn’t need to tell clients to get out of Europe or other international keeps now because he started doing that about a year and a half ago. That was after looking at how the MSCI EAFE Index 1 had underperformed the S& P 500 over the long term, yet had as much downside risk, if not more, he said.

Weinberg’s advice for older investors is to look at how big a chunk of their portfolio international keeps constitute and then work on understanding the risk and reward they represent. At that phase, he said, they could “strongly consider looking at other asset class in the U.S. that have better danger and return parameters.” Yes, he added, “I know asset allocators say you need an allocation that will give you broad global diversification. But I say not when the risk/ return equation is so upside down.”

Weinberg thinks you can be amply diversified by owning segments of the U.S. economy and U.S. markets, with companies that have acted “like true fiduciaries by having a long and strong history of dividend increases and good cash flow returns.” He guesses the agricultural and health-care sectors contain overlooked stocks with great dividend returns and good potential. One exchange-traded fund he likes is the ProShares S& P Dividend Aristocrats ETF( NOBL ), which was down 2 percent at midday.

“Stay focused on the long term, and do not do anything drastic, ” said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at ETrade Financial. “This is an opportunity for investors near retirement to consider how much hazard they are really comfortable taking in the context of their longer-term objectives and income needs in retirement.”

For someone who is fully invested in a portfolio that blends securities from the U.S ., EAFE, emerging marketplaces, and so on, certified financial planner George Gagliardi, of Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Mass ., said now is probably not the time to sell.

But it isn’t the time to buy, either, and that goes for both U.S. and foreign stocks, he said. He’d hold off “until things have settled down or there has been a major correction.” Gagliardi said U.S. stocks remain highly valued, considering the deteriorations in earnings for many S& P 500 companies, adding that “the most insightful forecasts that I read predict mediocre returns for the U.S. marketplace for the next decade.”

Vanguard’s Francis Kinniry insures the turmoil as further proof of the role of a prudent, diversified portfolio that pairs equities with high-quality bonds.

“With global stocks off 3 to 8 percent, high-quality bonds are up a half to three-quarters of a percentage, ” said Kinniry, a principal in Vanguard’s Investment Strategy Group. “So despite rumors of significant dislocations and massive equity deteriorations should Brexit occur, a well-diversified global portfolio of, say, 60 percentage bonds and 40 percentage stocks is only down about 2 to 3 percent as of midday.”

Wayne Park, head of T. Rowe Price’s business that focuses on individual investors, counselings soothe as well. We ensure spikes in call activity so early from both 401( k) investors and personal investors, but the volume has stabilized, ” he said. And while Fidelity ensure elevated trading volume in brokerage accounts, it said its customers are looking at today’s pullback as a buying opportunity, with clients building 2.25 buys for every sell.

William Bernstein, of Efficient Frontiers Advisors, offered a useful reminder: “Investing is a process, ” he said, “that distributes fund to people who have a plan and can execute it from people who do not or cannot.”

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