Dealing with Market Turbulence & Uncertainty

By: Ferguson-Johnson Wealth Management | October 9, 2015

“The farther one gets from Wall Street, the more skepticism one will find we believe, as to the pretensions of stock-market forecasting or timing. The investor can scarcely take seriously the innumerable predictions which appear almost daily and are his for the asking.”
-Benjamin Graham

However, we will make a forecast for a wee addition (after contractions). In November, Derek and his wife, Tiffany, are anticipating the arrival of their first child, daughter, Sloane Elizabeth Johnson. We are eagerly looking forward to the new addition to the Johnson family.

The third quarter this year came with quite a bit of unpleasant turbulence. For the 15 days beginning August 20, the daily range between highs and lows exceeded 415 points on average1. This was the worst performing quarter in the domestic markets since 20112

Potential items that may have contributed to this volatility included uncertainty over the timing of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate moves, government slow-downs, broad sell-offs in the Chinese markets, and a drop in Brent Crude Oil prices of 24 percent5.

Uncertainty is a dirty word in the investment community. Investors get skittish when facing the unknown. A focus on the aforementioned issues has detracted from the positive news of strong consumer spending, shrinking unemployment, steady auto sales, lower energy costs, and a healthy housing market.

As investors we are told to look at the long term, but we are bombarded with media cawing over the short term. We have to overcome the noise and disruption of our senses in order to retain our long term perspective.

Since an early age, history has always been a subject that has fascinated me. We have history of the sciences, earth, animals, wars, weather, and the markets. “Those who don’t know history are destinedto repeat it.” This quote attributed to the 18th Century statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, is as true today as it was over 200 years ago.

In 200 years of stock market history, annualized returns have been positive 71% of the time. We have witnessed nine annual declines of 20% or more and only three of these have occurred in the past 75 years6.

The 200-year history informs us that markets will ebb and flow, but the overwhelming majority of times they flow in a positive direction.

I’ve included a recent piece from Weston Wellington along with this commentary that highlights some of the pitfalls of panic selling and market timing. Please give it a read for some additional perspective.

We find it very compelling to maintain the investment strategy that we have mutually agreed upon in creating your personal Investment Policy Statement.


The US department of labor is causing frustration to some advisors over new rules that are in the works which will force advisors to act in the best interest of the client 7 . While we have long adhered to our role as fiduciaries, stock brokers have not been subject to the same standards.

After a long a losing fight by the brokerage industry this rule hopefully is about to change.

This quarter we will be re-checking that those of you who are required to take a Minimum Required Distribution from your retirement accounts are on track to do so. If you have outside retirement accounts that we are not aware of, please inform us so that we can help you plan effectively.

We will make certain you are in compliance with your total required amounts.

Our best wishes to you for a delightful autumn.
Derek, John, Jon, and Stacie

1 Grocer, Stephen. ”Dow Gets in the Swing”, The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2015.
2 Bullock, Nicole & Wigglesworth, Robin. ”Equities on course for worst quarter since 2011”, Financial Times, September 29,
2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.
3 “Markets Review & Outlook | Third Quarter”, The Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2015.
4 Performance data; Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors as of 9/30/15.
5 Krishnan, Barani. “Oil mixed on U.S. crude build, Syria; down 24 percent on quarter”, Reuters, September 30, 2015. Accessed
October 8, 2015.
6 Kilgore, Tomi. “Here are 200 years of stock market performance charted as a Christmas tree”, Market Watch, December 23,
2014. Accessed October 5, 2015. 7 Prior, Anna. “Advisors Face More Rules”, The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2015.

Investment advisory services offered through Ferguson-Johnson Wealth Management, a registered investment adviser.

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