July 22, 2024


Imagination at work

Staying the course really matters


Karin Risi: When you have steep losses like this, clients—some of them—are questioning whether they should go to cash.

Tim Buckley: Bad idea.

Karin: It’s a bad idea. We know this, right? So what we also know is that time and time again, no matter what the root cause of the market uncertainty or volatility is, investors tend to think that if they move to cash they’ll be safer. And it does prevent short-term volatility and movement in your portfolio if you move everything to cash. Of course it does.

Tim: But you miss out on the growth in the future.

Karin: That’s exactly right. And we see it. We’ve seen it even recently. We have a great illustration that shows this just from the last couple of weeks. If you think about the fact that from about mid-February to March 23, in fact, Monday, March 23.

Tim: Not a period I want to relive.

Karin: Definitely. Many of our clients suffered through this, and it was—actually marked a 33.9% decline in the S&P 500. Brutal for our clients. These are the days when clients are calling their advisors and saying, should I move to cash? But you know better than I do, Tim. What happened in the subsequent three trading days?

Tim: 17% return.

Karin: Yeah.

Tim: I would have never guessed it, right? And I live with the markets all the time.

Karin: Yes. I think it’s fair to say, most investors could not predict when to get out. And then you have to be right twice. You have to know when to get back in. It’s a really difficult proposition, which is why—for decades at Vanguard—we continue to say staying the course really matters.