Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM
There are countless books claiming to elucidate exactingly how to invest over the long-term. However, ask any seasoned trader what the secret is to an effective investment strategy and you’ll quickly find there is no one tactic or panacea for consistent growth.
Instead, what most traders rely on is an informed and reactive understanding of both current affairs and unfolding market trends to help inform their investment decisions. By letting this understanding dynamically inform one’s portfolio, they are able to confidently react to sudden market shocks.
Investors must therefore have one eye on the present and one eye on the future, and understand how different social, political, geographical and economic events could impact their portfolio. This understanding must be informed by an awareness of how past events have affected the prices of different assets. Thankfully, there are plenty of useful ways that investors can prep for the future.
Markets are all about cause and effect
The fundamental operation of the financial market is one of cause and effect; one event or price movement will inevitably affect the prices of other assets. Whilst this is a simple enough concept, big political and social events often trigger a multiplicity of effects, which can in turn impact on one another.
For example, the recent outbreak of coronavirus is having a major impact on global supply chains; China’s productivity has been negatively affected, which has had a flow-on effect on major businesses that rely on China as part of its supply chain.
In terms of market volatility, there is a huge amount of historical evidence which shows how the coronavirus could impact asset prices. One central theme is likely to be the increase of value in ‘hard commodities’ — physical investments like gold, steel and oil. That is because these so-called safe haven assets are perceived as having global appeal and consistent demand, and therefore offer greater resilience in times of volatile trading conditions.
Never overlook the advantages of an informed strategy
I doubt you could find many long-term traders who have not woken up one morning to see that there has been a dip in the value of their investments as a result of an unforeseen geopolitical event. For those who find themselves in this situation, it can be easy to panic and make uninformed decisions. This is the entirely wrong approach to take.
By its very nature, finance is an unpredictable sphere of work, and unexpected shocks are par for the course. That’s why the strongest financial plans tend to include or account for the unforeseen. When prices dip or there is a sudden market shock, it has been for the most past accounted for and leaves little room for sudden trades that are informed by the heart, not the mind.
Remember to diversify (within limit)
Another way of managing market volatility is ensuring your portfolio is diverse, with investments spread across multiple markets. Doing so reduces your portfolio’s risk of suffering significant loses should one particular market or sector be adversely affected by an unexpected event. However, the key to diversification is not to cast your net too wide.
The broad points that need internalising here can be surmised very briefly: knowledge is power.
Mastering the complex nature of different financial markets is not simply about watching the fluctuating prices of assets. It’s also about understanding the historical performance of different markets, analysing previous trends and using all this as a guide to manage your investments during sudden political and economic shocks.
What’s more, any investment decision or trade needs to be part of a bigger strategy with goals, returns and risk exposure all clearly defined. Doing this ensures that investors and traders are in the position to stay on top of their financial portfolio.
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Giles Coghlan is Chief Currency Analyst at HYCM – an online provider of forex and Contracts for Difference (CFDs) trading services for both retail and institutional traders. HYCM is regulated by the internationally recognized financial regulator FCA. HYCM is backed by the Henyep Capital Markets Group established in 1977 with investments in property, financial services, charity, and education. The Group via its relevant subsidiaries have representations in Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Dubai, and Cyprus.