As we wish our colleagues, family and friends happy new year, many investors are saying good riddance to 2022. Stocks and bonds were BOTH down double digits. Thanks to an inflationary environment and Fed rate hikes, markets have given back the growth we have enjoyed over the last few years.
An important topic for the finance industry for sure, but why am I writing this in an HR Blog? Well because your 401(k) or 403(b) Plan turns your employees into investors. And decisions they make during periods of market volatility can have a significant impact on their professional and financial future.
As we turn the calendar to a new year, many will commit to a New Year’s Resolution(s) – maybe you want to lose a few pounds and exercise more, perhaps you are committed to spend less and save more or waste less time on social media. And if you are like most (me), by (early) February those (exercise) resolutions may (always) disappear.
Instead of playing the losing game of New Years’ resolutions, I am challenging myself to change my mindset and look for opportunities in 2023.
That means something different to everyone, but for investors, market sell-offs present lots of opportunities. An opportunity to rebalance their portfolios, an opportunity to invest cash or an opportunity to have patience and let the power of compounding work its magic.
But let’s be real – it can be extremely frustrating to save throughout the year, only to find your ending portfolio balance lower than when you started. Legendary investor Sir John Templeton perfectly summarizes the to-do in times like these when he said, “The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.” Investing is an emotional and intimidating topic, but the supports and services of your retirement benefits program are an ideal avenue to empower your employees to take advantage of these opportunities. Let your retirement plan professionals help.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Work with your plan advisor to offer one-on-one planning discussions.
- Ask your recordkeeper if investment change activity has increased.
- Host an employee education meeting to explain the recent volatility and put it into some historical context.
- Send a communication about record high contribution limits for 2023, encouraging employees to take advantage of lower prices by increasing their savings.
- Don’t forget “catch-up” contributions available to employees 50+.
Remind yourself and your employees that perspective matters. In the context of one year 2022 was painful. In context of decades, it may prove to be rewarding for those who maintained perspective and took advantage of what the markets provide.
To quote another legend, Albert Einstein famously said, “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”