- Focus on your personal goals.
- Don't check your portfolio daily.
- Make a long-term plan.
- Find a professional you can work well with.
Late last year, as stocks dropped some 20%, 78-year-old Michael St. Clair's stress level went the other direction. He and his wife, 75-year-old Ros Moore had just sold their long-time home and had invested the proceeds, plus much of their retirement savings, largely in stocks.
"Last December was very stressful for me," recalls Michael, a retired professor. "I was looking at my portfolio every day. It was like I was taking my pulse in the midst of a heart attack."
Soon after, Michael and Ros, a retired psychologist, met with Tom Boardman, a Fidelity advisor, who helped them refocus their attention from the market's short-term swings to their personal situation and long-term goals.
"Because of my age, I've been through many downturns, some significant," says Michael. "But when I was working, retirement was so far in the distance, we just held on and it didn't faze us." Now that he and Ros are retired and living off their savings, their perspective has changed. "We're enjoying our retirement greatly. We like to travel. We're planning to spend time on Cape Cod this summer and 2 to 3 weeks in Florida next spring. So, the key thing is preserving capital so we have enough to live on."
To that end, Tom suggested a portfolio built around Michael and Ros's goals, financial situation, and also their feelings about risk. In the end, they made modest changes so they could still be exposed to the stock market, but more invested in bonds. That has put their minds at ease—even when the stock market dropped again in late May.
"Tom helped us put a thoughtful plan in place," says Michael. "I am no longer compulsively checking the pulse of the market. I know financial markets go up and down. But I trust my plan is OK. It makes sense to me. And we can sleep at night."