Are You Ignoring the 24/7 News Cycle and Focusing on Your Financial Plan?
No one can guarantee when the markets will go up or down. Lots of talking heads and so-called “experts” like to claim they know when factors like news items or current events will impact how the stock market behaves, but it’s all guesswork.
It’s extremely easy to get caught up in a 24/7 news cycle that produces headlines and predictions meant to invoke emotional reactions in viewers. But the key to long-term financial success is tuning out the noise and understanding that ups and downs happen.
We know markets can be volatile. That’s part of the price paid to invest and earn more money than you could almost anywhere else — and it’s also something to account for in a comprehensive financial plan.
The only certain thing is that the market will rise and fall. We don’t know exactly when. All the noise from reporters, TV hosts, or others speculating about what the market will do next because of elections, the Fed, or whatever else they point to as the why behind their guesswork only serves as a negative distraction.
Instead of panicking and reacting based on what you hear on the news or from folks at work, you can create and set a financial plan, tailored specifically to you, based on reasonable, objective decision making (instead of emotional and irrational). A great financial plan accounts for your goals, your risk tolerance, and your concerns — and it means you already know what to do when others threaten that the market may take a turn due to whatever people happen to be worked up over today.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE FINANCIAL PLAN?
A comprehensive financial plan is specific to you. It includes factors like:
- Your goals (saving for a house or a child’s college education, retiring early, starting a business, and so on)
- Your income
- Your cash flow
- Your tax situation
- Your target retirement date
- Your future earnings and income
- Your risk tolerance
- Your time horizon
Note that each of these components of a financial plan starts with “your.” That’s because a comprehensive financial plans starts with you — not the news, or the global markets, or future predictions.
And of course, a financial plan can include more than just what’s listed here. Again, the theme is you. What’s important to you? That has to be factored in.
While investing is an important part of achieving your long-term goals, focusing solely on investments alone is similar to running around a hamster wheel. There will be highs and lows, but if you aren’t working toward something, you’re just running in circles.
Investing coupled with a comprehensive plan that looks at the big picture ensures you are investing appropriately for your situation and making progress toward your goals.
DON’T PANIC AND REACT WITH EMOTION
One of the most important benefits to having a financial advisor is that they can serve as a gatekeeper to keep you from reacting emotionally and totally derailing your financial plan. When markets tank (like they did in 2008 and 2009), people start to panic.
As they watch the markets fall, they react emotionally. They can’t stomach losing so much money. They freak out! And then they sell at the absolute worst time: when markets are already down!
Keep in mind that after you sell at the bottom, you won’t know when to buy back in — and that often leaves people buying at the top of the market. Selling low and buying high is the opposite of prudent investment advice. Meet the “behavior gap”.
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t go to a store and specifically not buy something because it was on sale. It’s the same way with stocks. When they’re down, they are “on sale.” This is the rational, objective way to look at the market.
But when it’s your money and your net worth you see taking a hit because the market dropped, it’s extremely difficult to maintain that mindset and act rationally. Again, most people panic and never dream of buying because it really hurts to see those red down arrows next to your investment balances.
An objective third party can help you prevent such a huge mistake. A financial planner willing to act as your fiduciary will remind you of your comprehensive financial plan that was already built assuming there would be market volatility.
In short, that means your planner can give you some of the most valuable advice you can ever receive when everyone else is panicking: don’t deviate from your plan! That may mean staying the course and taking advantage of this latest ‘sale’.
THE RIGHT PLAN WILL HOLD STEADY THROUGH CURRENT EVENTS
Ultimately, a comprehensive plan stands the test of time. Because market fluctuations are expected (remember, it’s the timing that’s unexpected), your plan already accounts for them.
Your financial plan tells you what to do even in turbulent markets or troubled and uncertain times. It’s designed for the long-term. What feels like a big, massive upheaval today will likely be a blip on the radar when you look back in 30 years.
The best way to safeguard against panic and emotional reactions is to have a financial plan — and then stick to it.
Understanding ETF Liquidity and Trading
Written by: ProShares
ETFs offer attractive features—access to a broad range of asset classes, sectors and styles in a liquid, transparent and cost-effective vehicle. But before using that vehicle, it’s helpful to understand how it works, especially the sources of ETF liquidity and the mechanics of trading them. Understanding these points may help you improve execution when buying and selling ETFs.
The Primary Market—Creation/Redemption of ETF Shares
Most investors trade ETFs on stock exchanges in the secondary market. But the actual creation and redemption of ETF shares occur in the primary market, between the ETF and authorized participants (APs)1—the only parties who transact directly with the ETF. The APs’ ability to continuously create and redeem shares allows them to meet the supply and demand needs of investors, making them key liquidity providers in the secondary market.
Creation. This is how APs introduce new ETF shares to the secondary market.
- In-kind—The AP creates ETF shares in large increments—known as creation units—by acquiring the securities that make up the benchmark the fund tracks in their appropriate weightings and amounts to reach creation unit size (blocks ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 fund shares). The AP then delivers those securities to the ETF in exchange for ETF shares.
- Cash—Alternatively, APs can create ETF shares by exchanging the appropriate amount of cash for ETF shares, for what’s known as a cash create. Often, ETF shares are created using a combination of securities and cash.
- The AP then offers the ETF shares for sale in the secondary market, where they are traded between buyers and sellers on an exchange.
Redemption. This follows the same process in reverse.
- The AP redeems ETF shares in large increments—known as redemption units—by acquiring them in the secondary market and transferring them to the ETF in exchange for the underlying securities or cash (or both) in the appropriate weightings and amounts.
The Secondary Market—Costs and Mechanics of Trading ETF Shares
Costs of Trading. In the secondary market, firms that specialize in buying and selling ETF shares—APs or market makers2 (liquidity providers)—trade them to provide market liquidity and make a profit. This profit margin is embedded in the bid/ask spread, which reflects the implicit costs of trading ETFs.
Bid/ask spread is the difference between the bid—the highest price at which a buyer is willing to buy shares—and the ask—the lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell ETF shares. Three key factors impact the bid/ask spread:
- Creation/redemption fees charged by the ETF provider to the AP.
- Spread of the underlying securities—The bid/ask spread and liquidity of the securities that make up the ETF affect the liquidity and the bid/ask spread of the ETF itself. When there are many bids and offers on a security, it is easy to buy and sell, thus the bid/ask spread tends to be tight. When securities are less liquid, the spread is wider, making the cost to acquire them higher. The higher the cost of acquiring the underlying securities, the wider the ETF bid/ask spread.
- Risk or hedging costs—Holding ETFs entails certain risks, which need to be hedged. Liquidity providers use a variety of financial instruments, including futures, options and other ETFs, to hedge this risk. The more instruments they have to choose from, the lower their hedging costs and the lower the bid/ask spread. The higher the risk, the wider the spread.
ETF bid/ask spread = Creation/redemption fees + spread of underlying securities + risk
Executing Large Orders—Tapping Into Deeper Pools of Liquidity
There are two common ways to execute larger trades directly with liquidity providers, both allowing investors to access deeper pools of liquidity than those offered in the quoted secondary market alone:
- Risk trade—A liquidity provider will quote a price for an ETF at a given size. If that price is accepted, the trade is executed and the liquidity provider assumes the market risk of providing the liquidity at execution.
- Create/redeem—For orders that are large enough, it may make sense to work with an AP to create or redeem shares. This type of transaction is usually executed at either the closing market price of the ETF or at the NAV of the ETF plus fees or commissions.
Mechanics of Trading. To fully consider an ETF’s total costs, it is important to understand the dynamics of trading. In general, two types of orders are commonly used to trade ETF shares:
- Limit order—Buy or sell ETF shares at a specified price. One way investors decide at what price to enter a limit order is to look at the IOPV3 as a guidepost. Limit orders may help investors get the best price, but there’s a risk the order will not be filled.
- Market order—Buy or sell immediately at the prevailing price available at the time. With market orders, execution may be faster, but the investor has limited control over the execution price.
While a large number of transactions are executed using limit or market orders, investors often find their order is larger than the quoted market. There may be “hidden” liquidity within the quote that can be accessed in the market using limit or market orders. However, in some cases, it may make sense to execute trades directly through a liquidity provider. How and when to place an ETF order can depend on many factors, including price sensitivity, level of urgency and overall goals for the portfolio. Determining what factors matter most can help determine the best execution strategy.
Questions? Our capital markets experts can help. Learn more about our ETFs here.
1 An AP is a U.S. registered, self-clearing broker/dealer who signs an agreement with an ETF provider or distributor to become an authorized participant of a fund.
2 A market maker is a broker/dealer that buys and sells securities (or ETFs) from its own inventory to facilitate trading in those securities. Most APs are market makers, but not all market makers are APs.
3 IOPV is the Indicative Optimized Portfolio Value—the intraday net asset value of the basket of underlying securities
Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. ProShares are non-diversified and each entails certain risks, which may include risk associated with the use of derivatives (swap agreements, futures contracts and similar instruments), imperfect benchmark correlation, leverage and market price variance, all of which can increase volatility and decrease performance. Please see their summary and full prospectuses for a more complete description of risks. Carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the prospectus; read carefully before investing; obtain at ProShares.com. There is no guarantee any ProShares ETF will achieve its investment objective.
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