Young investors may not have much, if anything, to lose in the stock market, but seeing their parents and grandparents suffer from the market declines following the dot-com crash and then the credit crisis over the past 10 years has taken a severe toll on their risk appetite, The Denver Post reports.
“Unfortunately, I don’t necessarily trust Wall Street anymore,” said Cliff Thompson, a 26-year-old. “They find ways to make a bunch of crap look good and get people to invest in it.”
Another young person, a 23-year-old whose mother lost 40% of her portfolio in the recent meltdown, said he no longer believes in buy-and-hold investing. “That sealed the deal for me in not believing in a long-term focus,” he said.
Certainly, investors have reason to be even more pessimistic than they were following the Great Depression, for in the nine years between 1999 and 2008, the S&P 500 declined 1.4% a year. In the nine years between 1929 and 1938, the index declined only 0.9% a year.
Financial planners and mutual fund executives are, nonetheless, encouraging investors to stick with the market, warning that the alternative of moving only into cash or low-paying fixed income will not only not prepare them for retirement but will essentially mean negative saving, due to inflation.
“You have to educate yourself enough to understand this is a silver lining,” said Christine Fahlund, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price. “You will go through bull-market cycles when those shares will be worth more.”
T. Rowe Price notes that if an investor had placed $500 a month in the S&P 500 for 30 years starting in 1929, the portfolio would have grown to a whopping $1.9 million. By contrast, if an investor had started investing anytime between 1950 and 1959 when the market was delivering strong returns, they would have ended up with less than half of that: $809,000.