Hey there and welcome back to Ireland's #1 personal finance blog. This week we are exploring what is quite a common challenge for people, the decisions about investing a lump sum now or waiting for markets to fall or crash. Funnily this is not usually a challenge for would-be investors when markets are calm and rising. It more often becomes a challenge when market volatility hits, or when media is claiming that the market it 'over-priced' or at an 'all-time high'.
The Impact Of Time
In considering this it obviously makes sense to consider what the intent is with investing. When doing a presentation last week for a group of advisors I asked them what the main purpose of investing is, 50% of the room said it is to beat inflation, while the other 50% of the room said it was to achieve decent growth. If you are considering an investment perhaps it is worth considering what your intent is with that investment. I firmly believe that unless there is a clear goal or plan for the funds then you are much more likely to make decisions that would be detrimental to your long term investment success. We can never obviously predict what the future holds for markets, and that history may well not repeat itself, but history (and the constant upward curve!) are all that we have to go on.
One piece of data I particularly like relates to the impact of time in the market, as opposed to timing. It analyses the Standard & Poors 500 (S&P500) between 1926 and 2011, and determines what percentage of rolling periods had positive returns, for various durations in that market.
1 Year - 73% of rolling periods positive (752 of 1021 rolling periods)
5 Years - 86% of periods positive (844 of 973)
10 Years - 94% of periods positive (860 of 913)
15 Years - 99.7% (851 of 853)
20 Years - 100% of periods positive!
These numbers basically speak for themselves here but to quickly look at both ends, 1 year and 20 year periods. We can see clearly that we stood a fairly decent likelihood of our investment being in positive territory after 12 months, but certainty of positive returns if we had invested for a 20 year period. Not everyone will have a 20 year window over which to invest but there is no denying that it clearly demonstrates the old and over-used mantra of 'its not about timing the market, rather time IN the market'!
Read the full Blog here.
Paddy Delaney QFA | RPA | APA | Coach