Volatility Is Back in Vogue

March 9th marked the sixth anniversary of the current bull market. Since the average bull market lasts only 3.8 years, we think it may be time to take a look at client portfolios and decide whether it makes sense to incorporate additional safeguards.

Our last Navigator Insights discussed taking a personalized approach to risk management. Just as the markets go up and down, investors’ appetite for risk goes up and down. A personalized risk management approach will adjust and adapt to the changing markets based upon the desired outcome or goal of the client. There are a variety of ways to manage volatility, and each has its pros and cons.

Pros & Cons of Risk Reduction Tools

Time can manage volatility, since over long periods of time, the effects of market spikes are smoothed out. Using a bucket approach to asset management can help spread a client’s risk out throughout their investing lifecycle. But not every investor has the luxury of a long time horizon nor do they always have the emotional fortitude to just “stick it out” in a bear market.

Bonds have traditionally been used as a volatility mitigation tool to help provide an income stream and to lower the overall risk of the portfolio. However, the threat of rising interest rates may mean higher volatility in the bond markets. Investors should not expect to receive the same benefits that they received over the past 30 years of a declining rate environment. Rates simply don’t have any lower to go.

Alternatives can help incorporate non-correlated asset classes into a portfolio. But the alternative category is all-encompassing, containing many different types of investments. It’s important to truly understand the individual characteristics of the alternative investments you’re incorporating to know how they will complement the overall portfolio and react in different market scenarios.

Hedging vehicles, such as products that track the VIX Index, can provide a way to access areas of the market that are negatively correlated to the equity markets. Hedging strategies are used to protect investors from severe market declines. However, in an up market or sideways market, they may create drag on the portfolio. It’s important to use them correctly and set the proper expectations with investors.

We believe one or all of the above vehicles can provide risk management for an investor.

Considering the full spectrum of risk management tools available when building asset allocations can help ensure that clients make the right decisions about their money regardless of market conditions.

Patty writes about helping clients achieve successful investment outcomes and about communicating effectively with clients.

The opinions expressed are those of the Clark Capital Management Group Investment Team. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. There is no guarantee of the future performance of any Clark Capital investment portfolio. Material presented has been derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, recommendation or an offer to buy, sell or hold any securities, other investments or to adopt any investment strategy or strategies. For educational use only. This information is not intended to serve as investment advice. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast or research. The investment or strategy discussed may not be suitable for all investors. Investors must make their own decisions based on their specific investment objectives and financial circumstances. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. This material is not financial advice or an offer to sell any product.

The S&P 500 measures the performance of the 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy, capturing 75% of U.S. equities. The MSCI World Index ex. U.S. is a freefloat-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure global developed market equity performance excluding the U.S. The Russell 2000® Index measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index. The data shown is provided for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.

Clark Capital Management Group, Inc. reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs. The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security, sector or industry. There is no assurance that any securities, sectors or industries discussed herein will be included in or excluded from an account’s portfolio. It should not be assumed that any of the investment recommendations or decisions we make in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.

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