Ancient Greek philosophers taught valuable lessons that are still relevant today. “Change is the only constant in life” from Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher from 500 BCE¹ is one of my favorites. I think it certainly applies to our current economic situation.
No one can predict what is going to happen, except we know there will always be change. Yet, the uncertainty of what that change will be can be unsettling. We know the stock market does not seem to like uncertainty, and neither do most humans, however change is the constant that we live with. The next best thing we can do is prepare, be flexible and anticipate change, rather than fight it.
We did not predict COVID-19; however, we did plan on a market decline in 2020. Analysts predicted negative corporate earnings for the second quarter by -43%. Yet, we had a pleasant surprise when it was only -32%.² The stock market rallied, even though those are significant losses, leaving many investors on the sidelines.
Planning for the future requires lots of assumptions that cannot be guaranteed to happen. We don’t know how long we will live; if we will get sick; if certain companies thrive and others go under. This makes it difficult to commit to a plan with so much uncertainty. However, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” as an aphorism sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin says.
Whether the economy recovers, or the recession drags on, each household will have its own circumstances and financial commitments that need to be met. We can’t wait to find out about the election, or the next quarter’s earnings to start working on the future.
We can build on things that have been proven in history, such as the principle that more positive financial results are typically derived from long-term investing. We know that risk increases with higher returns. We know that high debt will deplete your net worth. We know education and health are important for anyone’s future. We can start to build on a few solid concepts that will help stabilize your plan when change does occur.
This year is all about change. Many are focused on the challenges, but our current environment also poses some opportunities. Many folks are refinancing their homes at lower interest rates. Some taxpayers who find themselves in a lower bracket are converting to a Roth IRA. Many are beefing up their education through online classes and workshops. There is always a way to use change to your advantage if you have the framework of your goals and resources outlined. This identifies what you have to work with and what you are working for.
Procrastination is the enemy. Waiting to see what the next change is will keep you from advancing. There will always be another obstacle. It is kind of amazing that something said 2,500 years ago can be so relevant today. It is up to you to find ways to make change help you move forward, instead of holding you back.
1.Mindset Matters; 2. Goldman Sachs
Patricia Kummer has been a Certified Financial Planner and a fiduciary for over 30 years and is Managing Director for Mariner, LLC d/b/a Mariner Wealth Advisors, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Please visit www.marinerwealthadvisors.com for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov). Securities offered through MSEC, LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th Suite 500, Overland Park, KS 66211.
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