Time not timing

Global Perspectives Blog

30 years equals about 11,000 days. One might assume that eliminating a few of those days would have little impact on investment performance during that time. Yet, if the ten best days of the S&P 500 Index for the period 1983- 2013 are excluded, the average annual return drops from 8.40% to 5.80%. If the twenty best days are excluded, the average annual return drops to 4.09%.

If individual days can affect performance so dramatically, then why not be in the market for the good ones and out for the bad ones? Far easier said than done. Many investors try to time the market, chasing today’s hot investment or fleeing the latest downturn. Such a short-term perspective can harm performance and jeopardize your long-term financial goals.

Another common tactic during periods of market volatility and uncertainty is to park long-term assets in cash investments. While waiting on the sidelines can sometimes seem the prudent strategy, it comes at a cost. CDs and money market accounts may be less volatile than stocks and bonds, but they also offer little opportunity for growth and income.

Stock market ups and downs may be part of the investing cycle, but they can put investors to the test. To help stay the course in volatile markets, Columbia Management offers the following illustrations based on fundamental investing principles. While no strategy can assure a profit or protect against loss, it’s been shown time and again that time, not timing, matters most when building wealth for the long term.

Click for illustrations on Time not timing, Dollar-cost averaging and Recovering from a crisis.

Tagged with: Asset Allocation, Investing, Markets

About the Contributor

The views expressed in this material are the views of the author through the date of publication and are subject to change without notice at any time based upon market and other factors. All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such. This information may contain certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those discussed. There is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved or that any particular investment will be profitable. Past performance does not guarantee future results. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not account for individual investor circumstances. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor's specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Please see our social media guidelines.

About Us

Backed by more than 100 years of experience, Columbia Management is one of the nation’s largest asset managers. At the heart of our success and, most importantly, that of our investors, are highly talented industry professionals, brought together by a unique way of working. At Columbia Management, reaching our performance goals matters, and how we reach them matters just as much.