FLORENCE, S.C. -- Stand pat.
That’s what Regi Armstrong is telling people, he said early Friday afternoon, as many wonder how Great Britain’s decision to exit the European Union will affect their investment strategy.
“We’re essentially telling them to stand pat,” said Armstrong, president of Armstrong Wealth Management Group. “One-day events like this, even though they may have far-reaching consequences, the turmoil in the markets tends to be more short-lived.”
As the trade, political and other business ramifications have greatly unsettled financial markets, and as the British pound plunges along with oil prices, investors around the world have been left wondering about the next move.
“There’s a lot of emotion today and that’s not the day to make a decision on strategy,” Armstrong said.
In real terms, gains achieved over the past week or so in anticipation of an opposite outcome will likely be negated.
“This is simply giving back about half of what is being dropped right now,” he said about 1:30 p.m. on Friday. “It’s really not as severe a drop as it seems. Market prices are back to where they were approximately three months ago.”
Armstrong said his firm invests proactively “and we’re already fairly conservative leading into this.”
“There might be long-term economic consequences but that doesn’t affect how we’re managing portfolios,” he said.
Don’t let headline-grabbing news instill a sense of panic even if it’s unnerving when markets take a drop, he said.
“We didn’t have any exposure to European equities anyway,” he said. “Our phones haven’t been ringing a ton. We’ve had a couple e-mails; it makes for good headline news.”
One day shouldn’t throw anyone off track, he said.
Signature Wealth Strategies chief investment officer Scott Mitchell sent out a note Friday morning to investors.
“As I write this, stock markets and stock futures globally are falling. Great Britain voted to exit the European Union, and this will likely have unknown consequences for years to come,” his note begins, counseling investors to keep a few things in mind before they “get too upset.”
The first thing Mitchell offered was that stocks had run up recently on the expectation that Britain would remain in the EU, “so it looks like we may just be giving back those gains. We’re about where we were a week ago.”
“Our market doesn’t close until 4 p.m.,” he wrote, “so we’ll see if these losses hold.”
The last thing he offered to investors was the reminder that cash has been built up in their accounts, bond positions have been increased, and they’re still holding on to market neutral funds along with “some non-correlated and inversely correlated positions.”
“We didn’t expect this vote, but we have held aside new purchases just in case. I believe this will better allow portfolios a down day, if that is indeed what we get,” he wrote.
About 3 p.m. on Friday, Mitchell said his perspective remained unaltered.
“If anything, it might have reaffirmed our feeling that now is a good time to re-evaluate your plan to see if there’s anything you need to do, but not as a knee-jerk reaction to something that may not even affect you,” he said.
Mitchell said he wrote the note Friday morning as it looked like the markets “were in for a rough day,” and clients would wonder if the upheaval would affect them.
With just about an hour until the closing bell, Mitchell said the day has been “busier than normal,” but not unduly taxing.
“It’s a shame that it happened, but we’re not a whole lot different than we were a month ago,” he added.
At day’s close, the Dow Jones industrial average had dropped 611 points, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 75 points and the Nasdaq composite down 202 points, marking the biggest decline for the Dow and S&P 500 since August and the worst hit for the Nasdaq since 2011, according to the Associated Press.
Dropping 8 percent was France’s benchmark index while German’s lost 7 percent. Britain’s fell 3 percent, the AP reported, as the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 1.57 percent from 1.75 percent on Thursday.