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Many investors, especially those currently seeing major losses due to COVID-19’s impact on the markets, have developed a low tolerance for volatility. As a result they have moved a significant portion of their investments into bonds or other fixed yield vehicles. What many investors may not realize is that wholesale switches from one asset class to another in order to avoid volatility, can actually increase it. Secondly, for investors with a long-term perspective on their investments, volatility is actually a good thing, as it is the primary driver behind the sustained market gains over the last century.


Unquestionably, the stock market has experienced some fairly severe volatility in the recent weeks due to the uncertainty surrounding the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. But a more thorough review of the historical record provides a clearer perspective on market volatility over the decades that actually favor investors who manage to hang on even in the worst of market declines.


Winning with Market Volatility
Since World War II, the stock market has experienced, on average, an intra-year decline of 14 percent each and every year; and in that same period, the market ended lower, on average, by 18 percent every third year. Bear markets, with an average decline of nearly 30 percent, have occurred every fifth year. Yet, over that same span of nearly seven decades, stock market values have grown 100-fold, which means that, $1,000 invested in the stock market 70 years ago would have grown to $100,000 despite the periodic market declines.


The very profound and highly instructive take away from this is that market declines have, thus far, been nothing more than a momentary interruption in an enduring market advance. Hence, volatility is simply a necessary phenomenon of a market that works. On the other hand, market risk – the risk of incurring losses as stock prices fall – is human-induced. The only way investors actually lose money is when they sell their stocks.


Those who are suddenly spooked into bailing out of the market after it has already fallen 10 or 15 percent, will always lose money. Yet, history shows that the stock market rewards investors who can bear the volatility of stocks and avoid the harmful behavioral traps through various periods of performance. So, the real risk to investors isn’t being in the next 20 percent market decline, its being out of the next 100 percent market increase.


Building Your Portfolio around Market Volatility


Proper Diversification
Proper diversification is the key to withstanding increased volatility and reducing downside exposure. A well-diversified, strategically allocated portfolio will almost always decline in value less than the stock market indexes. If your portfolio only declines 7 percent while the stock market declines 12 percent, you’ll have less to recover when the market rebounds.


Focus on your Long-Term Objectives
During periods of increased market volatility, such as the current volatility caused by COVID-19, it does little good to worry about the market-shifting macro events of the day that will have little or no impact on the long-term performance of your portfolio. The stock market decline of 2008 will turn out to be nothing but a small blip for a portfolio invested for 20 years. It took years for the investors who fled the market in 2008 to recoup their losses, while those who kept their sights on their objectives and stayed the course have enjoyed record gains in their portfolio.


Patience and Discipline
Volatile markets can cause investors to make costly mistakes, such as trying to time the market (which is very difficult at best), or chasing performance, or trying to pick the winners. These mistakes can cost investors a significant portion of their portfolio value. It takes patience and discipline to adhere to a strategy and avoid the herds. Stocks should be deliberately bought and sold according to a strategy, not in response to emotions. If you don't work with a financial advisor, now is a good time to consider it. They can assist with a solid strategy, since they are able to look at the current markets without any emotional attachment.


Though we don’t know how Coronavirus and its affect on the market will progress, we do know that strong planning and diversification may help you navigate the current storm.


*The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Individuals involved in the estate planning process should work with an estate planning team, including their own personal legal or tax counsel. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a representation by us of a specific investment or the purchase or sale of any securities. All investing involves risk , Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. 

With Coronavirus worries creating rapid changes in the markets, your portfolio construction can be the difference between continued growth or difficult losses. The markets will ebb and flow, but the secret to investing is not the amount of money in your account, but rather the quality of your portfolio. Setting up a robust portfolio will be vital in handling market volatility. I’d like to touch on some of the ways in which you can build a portfolio that can handle market volatility.


1. Determine an objective
Your portfolio needs direction, or you can’t select appropriate investments. Whether you are looking to invest in your retirement, or save up enough for your children’s schooling, you need an objective. This objective should be long-term, and big enough that it is something to work towards, but not so vast that it is unattainable.

2. Limit Investment Turnover
Your portfolio is not something to play around with. Look at this way: you should not rent a stock. Instead, you should look to invest in a business. Yes, you can have some short-term investments, but the majority of your portfolio should consist of stocks that you are okay to invest and hold on to for up to five years.

3. Be realistic and understand the ups and downs of the market
Investing in a low-yield stock and expecting it to triple in the first year is not realistic. Instead, take the time to understand your investments and know what to expect in terms of return. This will allow you to ride the market during the highs and the lows and continue to keep an even keel over the long-term.

4. Diversify
Investing is a long-term game, and betting all of your money on a single company over a twenty-year period does not make sense. Instead, look to diversify your investment across multiple blue-chip or up-start companies in several industries. Thus, if one market is struggling, one of your other companies will take up the slack until the market corrects. Simply put, diversification will allow you to continue to see substantial returns year over year.

5. Talk to an expert
Helping investors navigate these complexities is my job, and I can help build your portfolio to ensure that it can ride out market volatility. A big part of a financial planner’s job is to help guide your portfolio and grow your money over time, and I am here to help.

No matter if COVID-19 has a continued effect, I can help you navigate the daily ebbs and flows of the market. Need help building a portfolio, or want a second opinion on your current set-up? Let’s chat!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

In my opinion, too many women still lack the confidence necessary to take control of their financial lives. They often fear making investment decisions, managing their finances, and planning and monitoring their spending - all which can help them increase their wealth.

Why aren’t women more confident with their finances?

The answers are as individual as each woman. However, one of the most common that I see as a financial planner is that women are stopping themselves from being assertive. Many women leave their financial lives to their husbands, boyfriends or parents, or ignore it all together, Because of this way of thinking, they lack financial power. Financial empowerment must come from within. Women must seize it with fervor, reflecting an unshakable determination to take control of their financial lives. You must tell yourself that you can become empowered, and that you will not let outdated notions of gender hinder your success. Keep "EMPOWER" in your mind as an acronym representing these concepts:

Education is critical
Motivation inspired by your values
Protection against risk
Ownership of your future
We — Find a partner to help you
Emotions should be kept out of decisions
Responsibility to yourself

If you are looking for a financial planner who will help you understand your motivations and find your financial confidence, please reach out for complimentary phone call. I’d love to help you!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

In part 3 of my series on negotiation and retirement savings, Elizabeth Suárez and I discuss setting up the necessary goals to help ensure you receive a raise in the upcoming year. If you missed part 1 and 2 of my conversation with the national speaker, coach, and the author of “The Art of Getting Everything” you can find them here: https://tinyurl.com/yxjr4tyl and here: https://tinyurl.com/y2c2sude.

Liz Windisch, CFP®: Previously you and I discussed asking for a higher salary when given a job offer. But what about increasing your salary in the job you have? Since we’re heading into the new year, how do you let your supervisor know that you want to do what it takes to achieve a raise or promotion next year?

Before you address the topic of a raise or promotion with your boss, it is imperative to take some time to evaluate how your work has impacted your team/division/company. Many professionals believe they deserve a raise because they are working long days. However, raises and promotions are directly linked to how your work transforms the desired team/division/organization outcomes. I recommend keeping a log of your work and accomplishments on a weekly basis. Before meeting with your boss, review your log and identify your top five accomplishments. Share them by illustrating the positive effect they have had toward the company. Follow up it up with the ask. An example of the ask is: “Based on the accomplishments I have shared, I wanted to discuss a plan on how to improve my compensation to match my performance in this company.”

LW: What is a good communication strategy to “check in” as the year progresses?

One of the biggest mistakes is waiting until performance evaluation time to check in with your boss on how you are doing measured against your objectives. I highly recommend that in every one-on-one meeting with your boss you set aside ten minutes to discuss your performance and identify ways that you can continue to improve. If you do this, there should be no surprises at evaluation time. Quite the opposite - you will feel confident and in charge of your future in the company.

LW: Thank you so much for your insight on this topic!

Next month: You’re making more money! How to put it to work for your retirement.

Liz Windisch, CFP® has guided women toward overcoming their money fears and mastering their finances for over 15 years. She believes women will not be socially equal until they are financially equal. For more information, please visit www.lizwindisch.com or contact her at ewindisch@aspenwealthinc.com.

Elizabeth Suárez is an author, speaker and coach dedicated to helping professionals unleash their potential by transforming them into skilled negotiators and decision makers. For more information, please visit https://www.negotiationunleashed.com/ or contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@negotiationunleashed.com.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. GPS Wealth Strategies Group, LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Elizabeth Suarez is not affiliated with LPL Financial and Aspen Wealth Management.

Last month, I discussed how fear of negotiation hurts women’s retirement savings. I spoke with Elizabeth Suárez, a national speaker, coach, and the author of “The Art of Getting Everything” about negotiating a salary offer: https://tinyurl.com/yxjr4tyl. This month she and I cover what options women have when they are denied a salary increase request during negotiation.

Liz Windisch, CFP®: Thank you for continuing this discussion on women and how navigating their salary affects their retirement. When a woman asks for a salary increase and is denied, is “no” the end of the discussion?

Elizabeth Suárez : For me, “no” is not a final answer. I consider the answer of “no” as a U-turn, where you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out a new course of action. When a “no” is given one must assume one or all of the following:

1. The person to whom you are speaking doesn’t have the power to accept your request for higher compensation on the spot.
2. The person feels uncomfortable having to ask a superior about your request and simply wants to close the deal and get you working immediately.
3. The person might be comparing his/her starting salary to what they offer you, and feels you shouldn’t be greedy.

LW: Given those scenarios, what is the appropriate course of action in that situation?

ES: All of the above three explanations should be treated respectfully. The best way to counter a “no” answer is to do the following:

1. First and foremost acknowledge the “no” answer by stating something along the lines of: “I would like to have a better understanding of why my request for a higher salary has been rejected. Are you the right person who can help me with this?”

2. Most of the time, they will claim they offered you a salary at the highest end of the range. With such a response, you can counter by stating, “Thank you for sharing that. I would like to share with you some research I recently conducted which illustrates that someone of my caliber and background, who works for a company like this one, in this city, is making the following…” (Of course, you need to do complete this research even before you interview. You can reference websites like salary.com for some guidance on salary ranges based on location, type of job, company, etc.)

3. If the above steps don’t help, and the potential employer is not willing to provide you any more money you have three options:

Option A: You negotiate other amenities, such as a professional development budget, an extra week of paid vacation, the opportunity to work from home two days a week, or reimbursement for other items, such as Wi-Fi or cellphone charges.

Option B: You negotiate option A with an agreement to re-evaluate your salary in 6 months based on tangible objectives you agree upon at that time. It would be up to you to discuss and agree upon these objectives and then monitor your progress at your one-on-one meeting with your boss. When you seek agreement, you must ensure your new boss and HR are in agreement with this approach, and it needs to be put in writing by you!

Option C: You walk away from the offer. Yes, you are capable of walking away. Sometimes an offer is not worth it, and there are other options out there waiting for you.

Next month: Setting up the necessary goals to ensure you receive a raise in the upcoming year.

Liz Windisch, CFP® has guided women toward overcoming their money fears and mastering their finances for over 15 years. She believes women will not be socially equal until they are financially equal. For more information, please visit www.lizwindisch.com or contact her at ewindisch@aspenwealthinc.com.

Elizabeth Suárez is an author, speaker and coach dedicated to helping professionals unleash their potential by transforming them into skilled negotiators and decision makers. For more information, please visit https://www.negotiationunleashed.com/ or contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@negotiationunleashed.com.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Elizabeth Suarez is not affiliated with LPL Financial and Aspen Wealth Management.

The common financial wisdom making the rounds these days is that we all need to be saving more money and spending less. While this is true, forgoing the latte isn’t going to move the needle very much on your retirement goals. What never seems to be mentioned is how making more money can have a far greater impact on your retirement than frugality.

For example, say you work for 35 years with a starting salary of $50k and earn modest salary increases of 3% a year. You contribute 10% of your salary to a pre-tax 401(k) earning 6%. When you retire you would (hypothetically) have $860,760. If you negotiated for a higher starting salary of $58k and saved that same 10% your hypothetical 401(k) balance would be $998,481. If you also increased your salary by 5% each year instead of 3%, that balance would be $1,334,160, nearly a half million dollars higher than our original calculation. This is just one very simple imaginary illustration, but it does highlight the impact to your savings of consistently negotiating for a higher salary (or consulting fees) throughout your career.(1)

Women have multiple factors that put them at risk of running out of money in retirement. Many of these factors we have little control over, including longevity risk and time out of the workforce to care for a child, spouse or other family member. The salary that a woman earns while she is working, however, can be negotiated. Because negotiating isn’t in many women’s comfort zone, I consulted with Elizabeth Suárez, a national speaker, coach, and the author of “The Art of Getting Everything”. Ms. Suárez has helped hundreds of women advocate for themselves and negotiate successfully for what they want in their professional and personal lives.

Liz Windisch, CFP®: Elizabeth, thank you for speaking with me about salary negotiation and the impact it can have on a woman’s retirement. First, I think many women are afraid to negotiate their salary for fear of looking ungrateful or greedy. But, don’t most employers expect you to negotiate your salary?

Elizabeth Suárez: In most cases employers expect a candidate to negotiate a salary offer. Normally employers don’t offer the highest possible salary range. Based on a study conducted by Salary.com, 84% of the employers interviewed said they expected for every job applicant to negotiate salary during the interview stage.

Interestingly, a hiring manager is normally nervous that their chosen candidate might not accept the job offer. They have gone through an arduous interview process and by the time they have chosen the candidate, they are concerned the person could have other offers on the table or their current employer could counter the offer. Additionally, employers don’t want to come across as insulting if they are offering too low of a salary. Therefore, when participating in the interview process you shouldn’t think you are the only one who is nervous and concerned.

LW: So if employers expect candidates to negotiate, how much leeway is typically expected?

ES: This varies. I normally recommend my clients to do some research on the range of salaries offered at the companies they are interested in pursuing. This can be done by visiting websites such as Salary.com or getting involved with your local chapter of the Society of Human Resources (SHRM). By doing your homework you gain a better understanding of the compensation packages being offered at your location. Once you have this information, you are ready to negotiate your salary.

A formula that helps my clients navigate through a job offer is as follows:

● Take the average of the salaries being offered to other professionals in your field
● Compare your findings with salary tools such as Salary.com
● Take the highest amount from both and add a 20% value to the number in order to identify a range.
● Therefore, if the highest amount was $100,000, your salary range request would be between $100,000 and $120,000.

LW: What about increasing your salary for a job you already have? What is a reasonable expectation for salary increase in an annual review?

ES: According to the Society of Human Resources, U.S. employees can expect a 3% salary increase in 2019. Additionally, the advisory firm of Willis Towers Watson conducted a study and found that businesses expect to pay their best employees an average raise slightly above 4.5%. However, these are just average raises. In practice, there is not a specific formula. It will all depend on the employer. Therefore, it is imperative to always strive for outstanding performance in order to secure a higher raise.

Because a large performance pay increase is unlikely, I believe the above statistics show how critical it is to negotiate your salary when a job offer is extended. Multiple studies have found that only 36% of professionals negotiate a job offer! Others simply accept the job offer without counter-offering. GenZ (84%) and Millennials (74%) are more likely than other generations to accept a job offer on the spot.

That being said, if you didn’t negotiate a salary that you believe you deserve, or your request for a performance increase was denied, there are strategies you can use to change that answer.

Next Month: What to do when you get a “no” answer on your salary increase request.



Liz Windisch, CFP® has guided women toward overcoming their money fears and mastering their finances for over 15 years. She believes women will not be socially equal until they are financially equal. For more information, please visit www.lizwindisch.com or contact her at ewindisch@aspenwealthinc.com.

Elizabeth Suárez is an author, speaker and coach dedicated to helping professionals unleash their potential by transforming them into skilled negotiators and decision makers. For more information, please visit https://www.negotiationunleashed.com/ or contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@negotiationunleashed.com.

(1) This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical rates of return used do not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor.

Elizabeth Suarez,GPS Wealth Strategies Group, LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Most of my clients are Gen X women, and I can say that without a doubt, many of them are terrified. They are afraid that they don’t have enough money saved, scared that they’ll run out of money when they are old, and they are nervous that they are investing all wrong. These are not the women I am worried for. What terrifies me are the Gen X women who haven’t yet had this retirement wake up call at all. They are the ones who keep me up at night.

The last of the Xers are turning 40

According to the Social Security Administration, full retirement age for Gen X is 67. So if we assume that 67 is the age Xers are planning to retire (a big assumption), then the oldest of us will want to retire in 12 years, and the youngest in 27 (Gen X is generally agreed to have been born between 1965-1980.) No matter how you look at it, 12-27 years is not a substantial amount of time to amass a retirement nest egg. Only 65% of Xers have saved any money at all for retirement according to a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. I think you can see where this is going: as a group, Gen X is woefully behind in saving for retirement.

You may not be able to work as long as you think

Many women I meet with start by telling me right off the bat that they know they are behind in saving for retirement, and understand that they “will have to work until age 70”. Aside from the fact that you may not want to work that long, what if you can’t? Two thirds of elder care is provided by women, and age discrimination is very real. Working into your 70s isn’t always in your control.

You can save a substantial amount of money in 12-27 years

I titled this article “Wake Up Call” and not “It’s too late for you” because you can accomplish a lot in 12-27 years, but you need to be dedicated. You need to map out what you’ll need in retirement and backfill that to figure out how much you need to save, then you’ll need to set a budget and stick to it. This part is non-negotiable. It’s not late if you are dedicated to catching up.

Generation X women are the least confident in their financial future. Only 50% are somewhat or very confident they will have enough money to maintain their lifestyle through retirement. (Prudential Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, 2015). Taking a hard look at your finances now, and committing to getting ready for retirement can put you in the 50% who are confident and ready for retirement.

*The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

*All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

As our lives evolve so must our wealth management strategy. Each decade poses new opportunities as well as challenges. What to focus on with each decade of your life:


20s - Every penny counts, get in the habit of saving every month no matter how small


30s - Max out your retirement accounts, sacrifices today will create tremendous financial opportunities tomorrow


40s - Partner with a financial advisor who turns your nest egg into a well thought out plan for your future

50s - Take inventory and re-assess, know what you have and clearly define your financial priorities


60s - Have a well-defined strategy for balancing your desire for income and safety with the need for continued growth


If you are “behind” where you should be, don’t panic. It’s never too late to catch up. Please reach out to me if you want help getting on track.

A financial advisor! According to a recent study, 87% of Gen Xers would use a financial advisor if they found the right one.(1) So what’s keeping you from finding the right advisor?

Is it cost? Despite what TV and movies show, financial advice is not just for rich people. There are options for all income and asset levels, and speaking to an advisor can inform on what costs actually are. Further, I think that the people who benefit the most from financial planning are those that don’t have vast riches. Middle-income people often need to make tough choices with their money and guidance can be critical in these decisions. For example, It’s hard to know if you should put money in a retirement account or supplement your child’s college education, and working with a professional can be immeasurably helpful.

Is it embarrassment? Do you feel hopelessly behind in retirement saving, and are embarrassed about this fact? Believe me, we’ve seen worse than you! In fact, over a third of Gen Xers have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. This is what we do, and there is no reason to let your embarrassment keep you from seeking professional assistance. You may be behind, but you still have time to make a major impact on your retirement savings if you get moving now.

Is it fear of the unknown? Are you worried that you won’t understand what a financial planner is saying, or that the meetings will be full of complicated jargon? No planner worth her salt should be speaking over your head. It is part of our job to ascertain your level of knowledge and work from there. Planning the questions to which you want answers ahead of time can help with this nervousness. If you don’t click with the first advisor you meet, find another one. There are plenty of planners who are patient and genuinely want to help you. Trust me, we’re out there! It’s never too late to take planning for your retirement seriously. Don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you as one of the 87% of Gen Xers hoping to find the right advisor!

(1) Financial Advisor Magazine, July 3, 2019

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC, a registered investment advisor. GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The LPL Financial registered representative associated with this website may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the states in which they are properly registered or licensed. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident of any other state.
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