Recent market volatility has heightened one pivotal investor sentiment: fear. Many plan participants have been greeted by uninspiring returns the past few weeks. The fear of the markets is a natural human instinct: Investors place hard-earned money in the market in the hopes that it will grow, and when they lose money, if only on paper, their natural reaction is the desire to rid their portfolios of the assets that are bringing their savings down. Retirement plan firms must remind their participants during these unpredictable times that the market will have ups and downs and that a diversified portfolio should withstand these natural movements over the long haul. Eight firms in the Retirement Plan Monitor coverage group have reached out to participants recently with the same overall message: Don’t panic.
Merrill Lynch and Voya offer the most detailed resources for participants. On the public login page, Merrill Lynch features an image that links to a Merrill Edge Managing Market Volatility page offering videos and articles on maintaining successful portfolios in any market. Voya added an alert to the public homepage that links to a Stay the Course PDF special report discussing market history and asset allocation. A visual of top-performing asset classes over-performing and underperforming from 1995 to 2014 exemplifies the natural ups and downs of the market. Additionally, the alert links to a 17-minute Brainshark-powered Staying the Course Multimedia Presentation that discusses the market cycle, covers common retirement mistakes and offers tips.
Merrill Lynch Login Page Image
Empower features the same bulletin on each of its branded sites (Great-West, J.P. Morgan and Putnam) that reminds participants about natural market volatility and encourages them to remember long-term goals. This bulletin pops up after logging into the Great-West and Putnam sites; the J.P. Morgan site displays the message along the top of both the login page and participant homepage.
Empower Retirement – Great-West Market Volatility Bulletin
TIAA-CREF and Transamerica link to helpful articles on the public homepages of the sites. The TIAA-CREF carousel image links to a commentary – Market Volatility – What You Need to Know Now – that discusses the effect of the Chinese currency on the markets and a future outlook. The Transamerica homepage links to an article – Down Market? Don’t Touch That Fund. – that directly addresses participant panic, discussing the normalcy of market swings and encouraging participants to maintain their current portfolio and continue to contribute. Charles Schwab links to articles on the participant homepage within a sidebar rather than the public homepage. The articles, however, link to public site content. A market perspective – Market Volatility: What Investors Should Know – discusses the decline of China’s yuan, and a volatility flyer PDF – How to Manage Times of Market Turbulence – offers tips to investors, such as stick to a long-term plan and continue to contribute.
Transamerica Public Homepage Link
Hopefully firms’ reassurance will quell participants’ market volatility fears, discourage them from selling in a panic and allow these natural waves to run their course.