Financial Crisis

With the economy going to shit, this really was a fine time to get out of school and start trying to establish a life – especially in southern california!  No one could really foresee how bad things were going to get I guess, but it sucks trying to be financially responsible with the way everything is right now.

I sent an email to the consumerist this morning – after WaMu’s collapse last night I thought this was pretty funny:

After getting to work this morning, I headed out to a local taco shop to grab a breakfast burrito with some buddies.  On the way back we passed the Washington Mutual on the corner of India and Ash in downtown San Diego.  There were two San Diego National Bank employees standing out front of WaMu handing out fliers urging WaMu customers to switch to their bank!

I thought this was a pretty bold marketing move – they didn’t waste a second!

Anyway, with all the banks collapsing, its funny to see how quick the surviving ones are to make sure you know just how financially secure they are, and that your money is totally safe.  Amidst all that crap, my dad sent me this article today, and it was actually pretty reassuring:

Keeping perspective in anxious times

Chris Jones
Christopher Jones,
Chief Investment Officer, Financial
Last week, my 401(k) account dropped. In fact, my 401(k) account has dropped in value quite a few times in 2008, leaving me with a balance that’s less than it was at the beginning of the year. I’m not alone. The headlines are filled with plunging stock markets, the failure of Lehman Brothers, dramatic mergers of companies like Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, teetering banks, a federal takeover of AIG, and a monumental proposed bailout plan that could put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at risk. With news like this, who wouldn’t be concerned? However, it’s important to keep a little perspective.

Though last week got off to a bad start, a funny thing happened on Thursday. The stock market went up more than 4%—the biggest daily gain in six years (Source: S&P). Friday followed with another sizable gain. Had I panicked and retreated to less risky investments on Wednesday, I would have missed big gains that nearly erased the damage from the early part of the week.

In times like these, it can be difficult to maintain a long-term investment strategy. The urge to just “do something” can be overwhelming. However, making big changes in your investment portfolio under times of emotional stress is usually a bad idea. A diversified investment portfolio, held for the long-term, is still the best way to accumulate wealth.

Financial Engines can help you keep your portfolio appropriately allocated and diversified in these difficult markets. No investment adviser can prevent market losses, but we can help you to avoid exposure to the worst possible damage.

Of course, we understand that many of you are nervous. Nevertheless, here are a couple of things that should not be worrying you:

  • The collapse of a single company will not impact the returns of a diversified fund by very much. Most funds invest no more than one or two percent in a single company, and often much less. Our diversified approach to selecting investments means the failure of a single company will not put your portfolio at risk.
  • Your retirement investments belong to you and are not mixed with the corporate assets of your employer or recordkeeper. In the unlikely event of such a corporate failure, your retirement assets will be protected.

Remember that trying to time the market is a difficult and treacherous game. In the long run, a disciplined and diversified strategy will give you the best chance of success.

Log in to the Personal Online Advisor service today to see an updated retirement forecast and personalized recommendations to help you remain properly diversified and on track. In these anxious times, we appreciate the trust that you have placed in Financial Engines and look forward to helping you reach retirement success.

Christopher Jones
Chief Investment Officer
Financial Engines