Ep #120: Reviewing Podcast #36 - Should I Invest at Market All-Time Highs?

Benjamin Haas |

Here we are in June 2024, and the market is at all-time highs yet again! For some, it begs the question “Is now still an OK time to invest new money?” Oddly enough, Ben and Adam addressed this very question back in June of 2021. With the benefit of hindsight and what was a very bad year for markets in 2022, they again weigh in. Will they answer the question differently this time around? Or hit repeat on podcast #36?! Listen in as they reflect on what’s happened over the last three years and how long-term investing and discipline still worked out.


0:30 Overview of Market Events from 2021 until Now
6:29 Recap of Podcast #36 and How It's Still Relevant
10:05 The Importance of Investing Over Time
13:56 What History Shows Us Based on Market Performance
18:26 Long-Term Investment Perspective is Key During Times of Market Volatility

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Full Transcript:

Benjamin Haas  00:03 

Hi everyone and welcome to A/B Conversations where we will help you CFP your way out of it. A podcast where you get into the minds of a couple of Certified Financial Planners on how we think and feel about everyday financial planning questions and what should really matter most to you. A healthier financial life starts...now! Hi, Adam, how are you? 


Adam Werner  00:29 

I'm doing great. How are you? 


Benjamin Haas  00:30 

Excellent. You're looking good today. For anyone that is going to actually watch this podcast. They'll get the benefit of seeing us three years later because here we are on June 2024. And oh, yeah, I probably look, I've got a couple more pounds on me. Let's just say that. We're going to go all the way back to podcast #36. Today, we had a key question to kick off that podcast about investing at all-time highs. And here we are, essentially, as we record this back at all-time highs, higher than we were back then. We just thought it would be really interesting to kind of see what we said back then and just see if at all holds true. Let's give it like a little quick recap of that podcast. What's happened since then? And then we'll throw it back to Episode 36 and hear it all over again. 


Adam Werner  01:28 

Yeah, and this is not, the intent was not to have this be a hey, we told you so type of podcast recap but this is why we sometimes say the things that we say and oftentimes history does prove us correct. 


Benjamin Haas  01:42 

Well, Mark Twain said it right. History doesn't always repeat itself, tut it often rhymes. Right? Details, circumstances, that may be different but anyway, go ahead. 


Adam Werner  01:55 

So just thinking back to June of 2021. When at that point, I looked back at our notes, I think the market by June of that year in 2021, had hit all-time highs. 20 Sometimes over the first six months and everybody was kind of feeling good after recovering from 2020. That quick draw down from COVID and I just saw the note, I think Friday, so this past week. Now I know this will maybe come out a little bit later, but we had already hit now for 2024. We're at 29, all-time highs on the S&P 500. It feels eerily similar in that context. That you know, the first six months of the year hitting all-time highs, just like we were three years ago and you think of all the things that have happened between June of 2021 and now June of 2024. With the benefit of hindsight, and maybe we'll go through some of these things, all of the negative, the scary volatility in the market. And there's a saying for a reason, the stock market climbs a wall of worry and here we are hitting all-time highs with regularity. Again, you think back to you know, June of 2021 Federal Reserve is starting their interest rate hikes to combat inflation that we haven't seen for decades. You have a war breaking out, Russia and Ukraine, midterm elections are coming up in the US in the fall of 2022. You have regional bank failures that were spooking the markets. We’re breaking out, right, runs on banks is that are we going to be back to that again? Cryptocurrency taking off and collapsing and US debt ceiling conversations, which is a regular occurrence, but it always seems to grab headlines and give people anxiousness and thinking about their investments. Now we have another war, Israel and Hamas. Now AI has kind of taken over and become mainstream and driving a lot of market movements. So, a lot of this stuff has happened when in ‘22 was not necessarily a great, I should say not necessarily, it was a terrible year for most investments but here we are. Couple years later, the markets hitting all-time highs with regularity. I think a lot of people are starting to feel good about their investments, seeing their statements and just seeing higher and higher values. But for people that maybe are starting to invest or have cash sitting on the sidelines, it's that question: is now still an okay time to invest, even though parts of the stock market are hitting those all-time highs again? 


Benjamin Haas  04:27 

And isn't it true? A lot of this just feels like we're going back to talking about the psychology of all of it. Because if you do, that was kind of the takeaway here from reviewing that podcast. If you had a long enough time horizon, investing on the day that we had put out that podcast, it probably worked out for you. It didn't feel that way. By the time we were midway through 2022, you know getting to 2022 but if you hung in there, sure there were better days than not. And sometimes that's the question, should I just wait for a downturn? More often than not, can't time things, the best way to get started is always today, as long as you have a long enough runway. So let's turn it over to podcast 36. Listen to our conversation from 2021 and if you can keep the context of all the things that you share that have happened between when we recorded that now, hopefully it kind of proves the point. You know, if you can stick in there, if you have a long enough time horizon. It's always a good day to invest. 


Adam Werner  05:30 

And this this time should be no different. All right. Thanks. Throw it to old us, here we go. Yeah, so topic today is investments. And a specific question that I feel we've that we've been fielding a fair amount recently. Stock market hitting all-time highs with seems like with fair regularity so far this year.  


Benjamin Haas  05:58 

26 times.  Did I read that right? 


Adam Werner  06:00 

Is that what it is?  


Benjamin Haas  06:01 

26-27 times?  


Adam Werner  06:02 

Yeah, we've had a little bit of a pullback here in the last couple of weeks but still, we're still within a few percentage points of hitting all-time highs again. And typically, all-time highs beget more all-time highs but the question we've been getting is, for those that are either in cash or starting out with investing, is now still an okay time to invest while things are at all-time high or should I wait? 


Benjamin Haas  06:29 

Very, very fair question that we have a pretty confident answer to. I'll say again, not the reason I'm sweating. Let's maybe put some context to why we say we have a confident response. We've certainly experienced it and I'll say we typically have a more conservative client base so I think it's very true for our clients but statistics show behavioral finance shows that people are two and a half times more worried about loss than they are about the prospect of gaining. I think that fits right into this, where if you see it's at all-time highs and you're worried about loss more than you are future gain, that you may be thinking to yourself, man, this maybe just isn't a good time and it's also I think it's just how we operate with some recency bias. If I flip a coin 10 times and the last five times were heads and I asked you to call the next one, you might go well, it's been heads a lot, maybe I ought to pick tails. And, again, statistically, that may not be the way that it should work out.  


Adam Werner  07:40 



Benjamin Haas  07:40 

The series of events may not be completely, it's certainly not predictable but I think it's just how our minds work. So it truly is a fair question.  


Adam Werner  07:48 

Yeah, absolutely and so there was an article recently published by JP Morgan with a little bit of research to back up why they say and we would agree that as long as you have a long-term outlook, long-term being more than a year or more than two years.  

Benjamin Haas  08:07 

That's key.  


Adam Werner  08:08 

Yep. Not short-term, long-term outlook, that if you are looking to start investing, now is almost always the right time and here was the data that they use to back it up. They started with picking that they went back to 1988. Why 1988 because something happened in 1987 where in one day the market was down 22%. They had to exclude that from the sample size but picking any random day going back to 1988, if you if you started investing on that random day, one year later, your return on average was 11.9%. This is using the S&P 500.  


Benjamin Haas  08:48 

Yeah, that's remarkable.  


Adam Werner  08:49 

Pick a random day one year later, on average up almost 12%. That's great. Then they used the same kind of idea going back to 1988 and only started investing on days that the market hit an all-time high. Again, the market here being the S&P 500 and your one year return later was 14.3%. So completely debunked. 


Benjamin Haas   09:17 

It almost doesn't compute. Like, how can that be. 


Adam Werner  09:18 

Well, that's where what I said earlier, like all-time highs but get more all-time highs. As you're making highs, the market is trending higher and those highs can continually happen in any given year to your point where we are 26 all-time highs this year alone, that can happen. So their argument being extrapolating that out over three-year periods, five-year periods, the data still aligned to the point where if it's a random day or you're picking a time at all-time highs, it should be irrelevant as long as your time horizon is appropriately long-term, as we would almost always invest for people with that long-term outlook, then if you're starting or putting cash to work, now is probably still an okay time.  


Benjamin Haas  10:05 

Yeah, fine. That's just remarkable to me. So let's also then go back to some of the fundamentals that we would also talk about on that date that data aside, when people talk about the market, right, they're usually talking about the S&P 500. The other reason we would say, hey, don't get too caught up on the all-time high as you're probably going to diversify your investments. That's across not just one market, but many, and many of those others may not be, quote, unquote, at their all-time highs.  


Adam Werner  10:37 

That's a good point. 


Benjamin Haas  10:37 


You're going to spread it around enough. You're still not trying to time that one thing. I guess I should take that one step further. If it's a chunk of money, if somebody is now saying, hey, I came into something, can rescind conversations, I sold a property, I inherited some money, hey, you know, it was bonus time at the end of the year, do I put this money to work? It's okay to think in terms of dollar cost averaging. Just dividing that pool of money by some interval of time that you'd be comfortable just putting it in, where you're not trying to time things today at the all-time high but over the course of a couple months, if that makes you feel better. The point is to not just wait for some sort of massive pullback because that's where people get caught. 


Adam Werner  10:57 

Yeah, the idea behind dollar cost averaging is that to your point, you're spreading out the timing risk over whatever that time period is. And I think to us, it depends on the size of the investment, right, we may split it into two pieces, we may spread it out over three months. You can spread it out however long you want, right? Six months, a year, depending on the dollar amount but the idea there is you're taking equal parts and investing. Let's say it's June 1, you're going to put a third to work and then July 1, you're going to put the second third to work and then August 1, you're going to put that last third. You're just removing your emotions from the timing side of things. This is the plan, we're going to invest on these dates. It's like investing in your 401k. 


Benjamin Haas  11:48 



Adam Werner  11:49 

You don't think of the timing. It's when it comes out. It gets invested and whatever the price is, at that time you're buying it.  


Benjamin Haas  12:43 

Yeah, and that's not to take away from looking at your dollar cost averaging. We have clients that we know have some cash or they build cash, either through their savings, or it's quarterly, bonus, whatever it is. There certainly are times where we would say, maybe against their emotions. Hey, guess what? Great news, the markets down. I don't know why. I still don't know why the market is the thing that people don't like to buy on sale. Everything else in life, like we look at it that way. If you are in some sort of dollar cost averaging, you have some sort of systematic payment. It is okay on those pullbacks (which happened pretty frequently). The market is choppy and it does move quickly to use that as another impetus to get in. So it's the reverse of what we're talking about. Hey, all-time highs, I don't I don't want to put money in. Well, don't worry if it's at a high, don't worry if it's low. These are all buying opportunities.  


Adam Werner  13:20 

Yeah and ultimately, I think that may be the key takeaway here. Right? Don't let the timing get in your own way. Yes, things can, you can certainly put a chunk of money to work and the market can go down 5% the next day. That certainly can happen but if you're looking at it, again, going back to the long-term time horizon, you go out a year, two years, 10 years, 20 years - if you're investing for long periods of time, that one day is a little blip on hopefully the graph being sloped upwards and to the right.  

Benjamin Haas  13:56 

Yeah, and I think we're bringing this to light because if you feel like you have been burned before, either by timing or by some investment, statistics show you are significantly more likely to not want to invest and then by the same token, it's very easy to find a naysayer at any given time. You don't have to be a Google expert. You put in should I invest right now and you're going to get a bunch of articles. Look, if you are looking for reasons not to invest, you're going to find many which is why we're just sharing these statistics, sharing the fundamentals.  


Adam Werner  14:30 

There was a great quote that LPL actually shared this a few months ago and I actually had to look this this guy up because I never saw the name before but his name was Jesse Livermore and apparently, he was a stock investor. He was born in 1877 so he was an investor in the early 1900s. All right, back when stock trading and he is considered the pioneer of day trading. Not something that we would necessarily condone or you know, kind of say, hey, go trade on a daily basis and try to time the market. But his quote and I'll read it here, it says, “one of the most helpful things that anybody can learn is to give up trying to catch the last eighth or the first.” These are the two most expensive eights in the world. The point being, everybody would love to be able to sell exactly at the market peak and then be able to get back in exactly at the bottom and be able to time things perfectly. His point being, that's impossible so focus on everything in the middle. If you are, again, a long-term investor. We've said this before, it's time in the market, not timing the market. Let the factors at play here and especially when it comes to time, time can be your best weapon. Don't twist yourself in knots trying to pick the perfect day to buy.  


Benjamin Haas  15:59 

Yeah, so I don't want to butcher this either but this was not too long ago that I saw this one and I think it brings home that point that we're focused on something that doesn't happen even as frequently as we would think. So if you ask the general public, what percentage of the time is the market yearly way down? And this study considered that like worse than 12% for the year versus down a little bit. Negative 11 to zero versus little up or way up. Since 1926 I think it was, I don't remember when this went through. Only 7.5% of the time as the market been by that definition, way down. A little bit down: 19.5%. So we're talking like three fourths of the time the market, year over year is up but we are so focused and so fearful of that negative time, that when you ask people how to respond to that, 50% of people thought the market was down essentially every other year and that's historically not the way it's been.  


Adam Werner  17:16 

Yeah. So how much of that is just media bias? The negative being easy to sell versus just the behavioral side. What you mentioned earlier, just human nature and then probably not want to lose and maybe it's both.  


Benjamin Haas  17:38 

It's both and I think that's the problem and that's why I'm not trying to get flippant now. I hope the point for people is just get the heck out of your own way. Like that's why we're here. Let's fundamentally go about it with diversification with dollar cost averaging. I don't want you to be the person that last April or last May when let's just wait to see things settle down and then you got to November and was like, well, let's wait to see what happens with this election. Then you got to January like, wow, game stuff, these things in the market, the fundamentals of the market are you know, going to be upside down. This is an extreme case but you have missed out on essentially 100% rate of return recovery since last March. Let's just take a deep breath, all-time highs, like this is just a point in time that quite frankly, does not matter and your statistics earlier talked about it.  


Adam Werner  18:26 

Yeah, so I think the last point that I would want to make is and I know we've said this in other podcasts, we believe risk is mostly quantifiable when it comes to investments. We use a tool called Riskalyze that we walk through with clients to help put that into perspective. The ultimate point for us when investing for other people or just giving them the review on what they currently own is trying to set those guardrails of what statistically is quote unquote normal in any given investment that they hold and the crux of it is trying to determine, at what point do you reach a breaking point with your investments where you are seeing that negative draw down to the point where you can't stomach it anymore and now you have to get out. Because our point is, we would never want you to be invested in a way that you got to that point and then a March of 2020 happens and you sell out at some point during March because it just doesn't feel good and now that first decision is made - it's time to get out. But that second decision on when to get back in is ultimately the one that we see screwed up the most because it just hard to now convince yourself to get back in when things are probably still not looking so good.  


Benjamin Haas  19:59 

Yeah, it is not a no we said this before. Investing is not a coin flip. This is not heads, you win tails you lose or black, red, you know, however you associate gambling and investing. The point is, yeah, quantifiable just because you put it in an all-time high in the market, maybe then went through a downturn, does not mean it's lost forever and it certainly does not mean that it all going away. Like that's not how investing works. Remember, it's a zero-sum game. 


Adam Werner  20:24 

Yeah, that's absolutely true. 


Benjamin Haas  20:31 

I liked it. I liked this one. I hope it was really helpful for people that maybe got some money on the sidelines or again, just emotionally they get tied in knots. It's important to just talk through these things. And yeah, we're going to lean on history and data to help prove some points but keep it simple. 


Adam Werner   20:50 

Yeah, ultimately, it's just resetting the expectation, trying to get out of your own way and being okay that if you finally make the decision to invest that could go down but keep your time horizon long enough. More often than not store history has shown, the market always goes higher, it just may not be in a straight line.  


Benjamin Haas  21:12 

That's right. Well, it's not going to be in a straight line.  


Adam Werner   21:15 

Volatility is the price of admission when it comes to the stock market.  


Benjamin Haas  21:18 

You got it. Very All right. Thank you. 


Adam Werner  21:25 

See you next time. 


Benjamin Haas  21:27 

I'll be here  


Adam Werner  21:30 

Great. Me too! 


Benjamin Haas  21:50 

Hey, Adam and I really appreciate you tuning in. Please note that the opinions we voiced in the show are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific recommendations for any individual to determine which strategies or investments may be most appropriate for you. Consult with your attorney, your accountant and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to making any decisions or investing. Thanks for listening! 



Investment Advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor. Great Valley Advisor Group and Haas Financial Group are separate entities. This is not intended to be used as tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax or legal professional for specific information and advice. 

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