Navigating Through Times of Market Volatility

Ongoing market fluctuations can pose a risk to hard-earned savings and retirement assets, so be prepared by considering these level-headed steps.

(Image credit: Ryan Manuel 201)

Recent ongoing market volatility has many of us biting our nails. It seems we have watched the markets drop and then recover over and over again, and with no end to the volatility in sight, many are wondering when the bottom might fall out.

It’s no surprise then, that the latest findings from our Q3 Quarterly Market Perceptions Study show that Americans are increasingly worried about a major recession coming, when compared with the findings from earlier this year.

This anxiety has people worried about the impact of market actions on their investments as a whole, but also focused on their retirement savings, with nearly 4 in 10 survey respondents saying volatility is making them anxious about their nest egg. That number jumps to 50% when you look at the respondents with higher investable assets of over $200,000.

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But as the old saying goes, “This, too, shall pass.” So, while you might be feeling a little nervous, and none of us can know for sure what the markets will do in the future, it’s best to not fret too much. Here are a few reminders to help calm your nerves and weather market volatility.

Pay attention, but don’t obsess

It can be hard to ignore the constant discussion on the economy and market conditions from the TV, social media and even our friends and family. It’s important to stay informed, but what’s not good is obsessing over every movement in the market. Panicking over drops can lead to knee-jerk reactions that can have a negative impact on your investment strategy, like selling at a loss. In that same vein, an increasing number of survey respondents say that during times of volatility, it’s good to stay neutral and not take any action (42%, compared with 39% earlier in the year).

There are certainly times to do your research and change strategies in partnership with your financial professional, but checking on performance too often can lead to errors in judgment, and in turn potentially costly decisions with a long-term impact on your portfolio.

Check in on your diversification strategy

Diversifying your investments across a variety of assets can reduce risk, help protect your overall portfolio in the long term, and provide a level of reassurance during market fluctuations. Working with a financial professional, you can find a range of different investment opportunities with the right overall balance. Keep in mind diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against loss.

Build in protection

Keep a long-term view, but if you are approaching retirement, there are a unique set of circumstances to consider. It’s important to think through how you can protect your hard-earned assets in the months and years ahead. Having a level of protection as well as a source of guaranteed income in retirement are always two important factors to consider.

With an unpredictable market environment, it might make sense to stay somewhat engaged in the market to take advantage of potential gains, but certain protections need to be in place to help lessen the overall impact of any major drops. Certain financial products, like an annuity, can provide that mix of growth potential and a level of protection, as well as guaranteed income for life. These guarantees are backed by the issuing insurance company. Fixed index annuities, for example, may be a good choice if you want the opportunity for accumulation, but don't want to risk losing money in the market.

Working with your financial professional, you can discuss what sort of protection your portfolio might need, and if an annuity makes sense within your retirement finance strategy.

Building your strategy

No matter what the market does in the coming months, by partnering with a trusted financial professional, you can build out a strategy that puts you in a good place to navigate market volatility. And by seeking out protection opportunities, making sure you have the right level of diversification, and of course keeping calm when things get rough, you’ll have the confidence in your financial strategy so you’re prepared for the weeks, months and years ahead.

Allianz Life conducted an online survey, the 2019 Q3 Allianz Life Quarterly Market Perceptions Study in August 2019 with a nationally representative sample of 1,004 respondents age 18+. The 2019 Q2 Allianz Life Quarterly Market Perceptions Study was conducted in May 2019 with a sample of 1,006 respondents. And the 2019 Q1 Allianz Life Quarterly Market Perceptions Study was conducted in March 2019 with 1,005 respondents.

Any distributions are subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59½, a 10% federal additional tax.


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Kelly LaVigne, J.D.
Vice President, Advanced Markets, Allianz Life

Kelly LaVigne is vice president of advanced markets for Allianz Life Insurance Co., where he is responsible for the development of programs that assist financial professionals in serving clients with retirement, estate planning and tax-related strategies.