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How do market movements impact your super?

When investment markets drop, it’s natural to be concerned about the potential impacts on your super and other investments. That’s why it’s important to understand what causes these market movements and how you can ride out any downturns.

Why do markets move up and down?

Markets are influenced by many things: industrial, economic, political and social factors can all play a part. For instance, global trade and production affect economic growth, while consumer and business confidence affect spending – and therefore company profits.


Poor political and fiscal decisions in some countries can even have a flow-on effect in other countries they owe money to. And of course, natural disasters can cause major damage to any economy with no warning.


With so many factors at play, markets are unpredictable by nature. That’s why it’s important to remember one of the fundamental principles of investing – markets move in cycles.


What’s more, history shows that that over the long term, the general trend of share markets has been upward. So while your super balance may grow at a slower rate or even decline slightly during a downturn, keep in mind that market movements are a natural part of the economic cycle.

Don’t look for quick wins

When share markets fall in value, it may be tempting to sell up. However, trying to time the market by selling now and buying back later is a risky strategy that rarely sees investors coming out ahead. By taking a long-term view of your investments, you can ride out any short-term market fluctuations and take advantage of growth opportunities as they arise.


Keep in mind that super is a long-term investment. Shares, which usually form a large part of most balanced super accounts, are also generally a long-term investment designed to provide capital growth over a period of five years or more. So it’s always important to think in years, not days, when considering your potential returns.


Growth assets such as shares tend to fluctuate in the short term but have historically provided excellent returns for investors with a longer investment horizon. And because your timeframe for investing in super could be several decades, short-term market movements shouldn’t diminish the long-term potential of your investments.

What happens if you sell?

Before you withdraw from an investment, you should understand all the implications, risks and costs involved.

 

  • Crystallising losses. If the value of your investment falls, you’re technically only making a loss on paper. A rise in prices could soon return your investment to profit without you doing anything, whereas selling your investment makes any losses real and irreversible.
  • Incurring capital gains tax (CGT). Make sure you know what your CGT position will be before you sell any investment assets.
  • Losing the benefits of compounding. If you’re thinking about making a partial withdrawal from an investment, remember that it’s not just the withdrawal you lose. You’ll also miss out on any future earnings and interest on that amount.

Diversify your portfolio

Diversification is one of the most effective ways of managing market fluctuations, as it can deliver smoother, more consistent results over time. Your portfolio may therefore benefit by being spread across a variety of asset classes including Australian and international shares, direct and listed property, fixed income and cash.


Having a diversified portfolio can help soften the effects of any sharemarket falls. This is because some asset classes may do well during periods when other asset classes are struggling. Also, spreading your assets around means you’re less reliant on any one asset class at any particular time.

Understand your risk profile

All investments carry a degree of risk. How much risk you’re willing to accept will be influenced by your financial situation, family considerations, investment timeframe and even your personality.


If recent market movements have caused you to reassess the way you feel about risk, it’s worth talking to a financial adviser to discuss any necessary changes to your investment strategy.

Things to keep in mind

  • Super is a long-term investment designed to fund your retirement.
  • Diversification is an important part of your long-term super strategy. To create the lifestyle you want in retirement, it may be necessary to invest in growth assets like shares so your returns can stay ahead of tax and inflation.
  • It may be beneficial to ride out the bad times so your investments can grow over the long term.
  • If you have a financial adviser, remember that they’ve tailored your financial plan exclusively to suit your personal investment objectives and risk profile. Your adviser can answer any questions you may have and can adjust your financial plan if your circumstances change.

 

Want to find out more?

If you’d like to learn more about market movements, talk to a financial adviser or call us on 13 13 36.

 

Disclaimer
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFSIL) is the issuer of the FirstChoice range of super and pension products from the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557. CFSIL also issues interests in products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. The Target Market Determinations (TMD) for our financial products can be found at www.cfs.com.au/tmd and include a description of who a financial product is appropriate for. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) carefully, assess whether the information is appropriate for you, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from www.cfs.com.au or by calling us on 13 13 36.