Coronavirus is roiling markets. We asked 5 CFPs how they’re currently managing their personal portfolios

by Myelle Lansat
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Coronavirus is roiling markets. We asked 5 CFPs how they’re currently managing their personal portfolios

Many Americans have closely watched the markets go down, then up, then back down in recent weeks as investors survey the potential economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s no secret that stocks fluctuate, but what do the experts do when the market starts feeling like a roller coaster? We asked five certified financial planners the same question: How are you handling your personal portfolio as the stock market wavers over coronavirus concerns?

Here’s what they had to say:

Kevin M. O’Brien

Certified financial planner and president of Peak Financial Services

Having been through the 2001 dot-com crash and the 2008 Great Recession, we learned that having an appropriate asset allocation before an event like the coronavirus is paramount. Then, as these Black Swan-like events occur, people are prepared and have a predetermined amount of money exposed to stocks — which they know can go down. However, the balance of their portfolio is in safer vehicles, which either aren't going down as much or are holding up and might even be appreciating.

Having an appropriate mix of stocks, bonds and cash allows one to rebalance the portfolio back to the "target mix." So basically, asset allocation and the discipline of re-balancing periodically is the best way to navigate through tough times.

Want more insights on weathering downturns? Learn how to get your money recession-ready.

Roger Ma

Financial planner at lifelaidout and author of "Work Your Money, Not Your Life"

I haven't changed much to be honest. I'm sticking with my schedule of putting money into my investment accounts every two weeks. Because of some of the drops, I took a look at some of the legacy holdings I've been trying to get rid of and thought the drop may be a good time to sell these holdings at or near-zero gains. I've also reviewed the breakdown of my holdings compared with my target asset allocation to make sure it's not too off (i.e., figuring out whether I need to rebalance).

Danielle Harrison

Certified financial planner and assistant vice president at Landmark Bank

I saw the market correction as a buying opportunity. My husband and I had some idle cash that had accumulated so we deplored those into the market according to our investment policy . I also accelerated a portion of my Roth individual retirement account contributions for 2020 with additional idle cash rather than continuing with my typical dollar-cost-averaging approach to my retirement accounts. I follow this approach for my retirement accounts for cash-flow-management reasons.

Intimidated by investing? Here’s how to get started.

Tim Doehrmann

Certified financial planner and founder of Eagle Ridge Wealth Advisors

I am handling my personal portfolio similar to how I deal with clients. I rebalanced some [of their portfolios] last week when we were down and have any money that may be needed within the next few years in fixed income and cash. I also have a diversified growth portfolio for younger [clients] with relatively higher risk tolerance and I made a few changes to that portfolio as well.

Patrick Hanzel

Certified financial planner and advanced planning specialist at Policygenius

In times like these, I try to make sure I follow the same advice that I give clients and leave emotions out of my decision-making. Markets are constantly fluctuating so it's important to stick to your plan regardless of short-term volatility or what news outlets are reporting. This is especially important if you have a long-time horizon, such as a 30-year old saving for retirement. Sometimes we need to look at the glass half-full, as market downturns can provide a great opportunity to invest some additional cash!

These interviews were lightly edited for clarity. It is intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice.

Image: Kevin Baquerizo