Help protect your financial goals in all markets |

Help protect your financial goals in all markets

Jeffrey Apps and Tracy Tutag

Many people ask us what they can do to help safeguard their financial assets through good times and bad. There are some basic steps that you can take to better manage your goals in various market conditions.1. Plan. Before you secure your financial future, you have to know where you want to go. For example, if you’re investing for retirement, you need to determine when you want to retire, how much you will need to live on in retirement, how much time your investment have to grow, and how much you can afford to save each year. Once you’ve answered these questions, you and your financial professional can develop the investment strategy that will help take you where you want to go. You will need to plan for each element of your financial future and a good financial plan incorporates many elements, including investments, savings, insurance and estate planning.2. Prepare. Make sure that all you emergency needs are covered, including insuring the security of your family’s future and saving enough money in an ’emergency’ fund to tide you over during an unexpected run of bad luck. Once you’ve established what your emergency fund should be, and have put away that amount in appropriate short term vehicles, you can begin putting your savings to work in a long-term investment strategy.3. Diversify. When the stock market is heading up, there are some people who think it will never go down. They might invest only in stocks, even in speculative or high-risk securities. Others, as some Enron shareholders discovered too late, may be overloaded on one company’s stock. Even if you are an aggressive investor, it’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket. Those investors who most successfully weathered the high tech bust were those who had a variety of holdings some fixed income securities along with a diversified stock portfolio that included small and large cap stocks in growth and value sectors. Asset allocation, the process of deciding which stock and bond sectors, and at what percentage, you want in your portfolio, is important for two reasons. First, by spreading your risk among different types of stocks and bonds you are more likely to protect your assets on the downside, when the market is falling. Second, since no one can predict what next year’s winners will be, having many types of securities makes it more likely that you will have some winners in your portfolio. Your own asset allocation will depend on your age, your investment goals, and your tolerance for risk, your tax bracket and other variables. Please be aware that an appropriate asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss.4. Review and re-evaluate. All financial plans and asset allocations have a limited lifespan. Circumstances change, children and grandchildren are born and grow up, your earning power changes, you get closer to retirement, and you inherit money and so forth. As your life changes, you’ll need to re-evaluate your financial plan to make sure it is suitable for you. You’ll also need to periodically rebalance your portfolio. As the market goes up and down, your portfolio’s allocation will change. For example, an increase in small cap value stocks will increase the percentage of that allocation in your portfolio, putting it out of balance. When you rebalance, you sell some of your winning sectors and buy more of the sectors that have not yet performed as well. This forces you to “buy low, sell high.” Rebalancing can help prevent your portfolio from taking on more risk than you had originally intended and help avoid possible losses when a formerly hot sector starts declining.It may sound like a lot of work, but safeguarding your financial portfolio should be no different than an annual medical checkup or maintaining your car. Scheduling regular meetings with your financial professional should be as routine as seeing your medical professional. And, by taking precautions beforehand, you will be in a better position to weather the good times and the bad times.AXA Advisors, LLC, does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your individual situation.Jeffrey Apps and Tracy Tutag offer securities and investment advisory services through AXA Advisors, LLC (member NASD, SIPC) 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY (212) 314-4600 and offers annuity and insuranceproducts through an insurance brokerage affiliate, AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries. They can be reached locally at 970.926.0601 or

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