Worried About Market Volatility? Investment Experts Address Concerns and Share Strategies in Recent TIAA Webinar


With economic inflation and talk of a potential recession dominating the news cycle, employees may be worried about the impact fluctuations in the national and global crisis could have on their retirement savings. Earlier this month, TIAA, the University’s retirement plan administrator, offered a webinar on market volatility to plan participants, convening a panel of experts to discuss strategies for navigating market turbulence and staying on track to meet retirement goals.

Brian Nick, CAIA, chief investment strategist with Nuveen, was joined by TIAA’s Dan Keady, CFP (chief financial planning strategist); John Canally, CFA (chief portfolio strategist); and host Shelly Eweka, CFP, to share their insights on what is currently driving market volatility, how to weather market swings and how smart planning can help plan participants stay on track with their retirement plan, no matter the market environment.

Here are four takeaways from the webinar:

1. There’s hope for a soft landing. While summarizing the near-term market outlook, Nick emphasized that the US economy may be headed for a “soft landing”—meaning that actions taken by the Federal Reserve and other central banks could slowly cool global growth and curb inflation, while strong private sector Balance sheets may help prevent a slide into a minor or major recession.

“We do think there is still a narrow path to get out of this without even a mild recession. I think a severe recession is even less likely,” Nick said. If there is a minor recession, Nick says most investors should be able to weather the storm, noting, “The difference for most investors between a soft landing where we don’t have a recession, but things are slow down, and a mild recession, is probably not going to be too great.”

2. We’ve been here before. Nick pointed out that current market concerns are relatively short term in nature, and history has taught us that market valuations generally do go up over time. He points to the 2007-08 financial crisis and data from the decade that followed, in which the S&P 500 was up about 15% per year during the 2010s and investors saw a remarkable rate in returns.

“If you’ve just retired or are planning to retire, you probably have a longer timeline that you’re working from than just the next couple of months [to see notable returns]Nick said. “And that’s a good thing—because we think that things have improved from a valuation perspective and over long periods of time, valuation is destiny for market returns.”

Nick explained, “If you’re buying in at very expensive levels today, your returns over the next five or 10 years probably aren’t going to be as good. The flip side is, if you got in right after the financial crisis of 2009 or even 2010, your next 10 years, as we now know, were extremely profitable. …We can be a bit more optimism about the forward-looking returns over the balance of this decade for the equity markets, fixed-income markets and the hybrid markets like the credit that we invest in. I think we are going to see a broad-based appreciation in asset values ​​that takes us beyond whatever this difficult period is going to end up being—whether it’s a soft landing or a recession, and into a new fresh expansion and a new bull market . So that leaves us somewhat more optimistic.”

3. Stay the course with your investment strategy. Canally shared that while it can be emotionally difficult to do the right thing—stay the course—with the market’s current volatility, investors should avoid making hasty emotional decisions with their investments during times of uncertainty to avoid negative consequences down the line.

According to Canally, “An important question to ask yourself is: ‘Am I making a decision based on material changes in my life? Or am I making those decisions based on prevailing trends in the investment markets?”

He cited the importance of sticking to a well-planned, long-term investment strategy, including recommendations for investors to:

  • Have a sound financial plan and revisit/adjust it based on life changes;
  • Diversify investments to match your risk tolerance;
  • Rebalance investment assets to stay well-positioned and in step with your appetite for risk despite market fluctuations;
  • Take advantage of market downturns to manage your investment-related taxes; and
  • Stick with your investment strategy and don’t try to time the market.

4. Take advantage of TIAA resources, available to plan participants at no additional cost. To help navigate all of these strategic recommendations, Keady highlighted some of the resources available to TIAA plan participants. One of the most valuable offerings for Syracuse University employees is the option to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a dedicated TIAA financial consultant to receive personalized advice and education. An advisor can help investors rebalance and diversify their portfolio in accordance with their risk appetite, as mentioned above. Visiting tiaa.org/tools gives plan participants access to retirement calculators, an asset allocation evaluator and debt/budgeting workshops, all of which can help them meet their retirement savings goals in any market environment.

Eligible employees can learn more about the Syracuse University retirement plan on the Human Resources website or by visiting TIAA.org/syr. A recording of the full “Market Volatility” webinar is also available.

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