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Financial adviser discusses government impact on investments

Suzanne M. Bradshaw, financial adviser at Edward Jones Investments in Eldersburg, will hold a free seminar called "Time to Take Stock" Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Salerno's Catering Hall. She will discuss how political events, such as the recent government shutdown and barely-averted debt crisis, affect investor behavior. The Times asked her some questions about her event and the topic.
Q: Can you describe what you will speak about at your event?
A: I will be hosting a seminar open to the general investing public entitled, "Time to Take Stock." In this seminar we will be addressing emotional biases that may adversely affect financial decisions, strategies to help investors re-enter the market, and how political/economic issues can impact our investments.
Q: Can you explain your expertise in this area? How long have you been in this field?
A: As a financial professional, I assist clients every day in finding appropriate solutions to their financial goals. The largest part of my business is dedicated to working with individuals and businesses in saving for, transitioning to or living in retirement. So, when there are issues like the shutdown or the government budget which can cause short-term volatility in the markets, I work with my clients to help them understand risk, and what it means to be a long-term investor. I have been a financial adviser with Edward Jones since 2010, and have all the licensing to be able to offer appropriate investments. I am currently working on another certification though the College for Financial Planning. Before working as an adviser, I owned a small business, home-educated my children and was a private tutor. I have also served as an instructor on financial matters at Carroll Community College.
Q: What effects did the government shutdown and debt ceiling issues have for investors?
A: The recent shutdown has affected many people in the community, but not so much with their long-term investment strategies. Mostly, the timing of their monthly budgeting has needed an adjustment and people are realizing the need to establish an emergency fund for just such an occasion.
Q: Did you make adjustments to your personal finances as a result of the government dysfunction?
A: As a long-term minded investor, your personal long-term goals should not change based on the dysfunction or decisions made by Washington. The focus should be on defining your goals, understanding the many types of risk, knowing your time horizon and buying quality investments.
Q: Do different types of investors have to worry more than others? Or is the whole system affected?
A: Those who are closer to retirement seem to be the most concerned as they will be needing their investments to create the income they need to last throughout retirement. Many still remember 2008. Those investors could also make poor investment choices as a result of fear or anxiety. The best bet is to be open with your adviser about your goals and fears and to discuss the different investments that could help you better achieve your goals.
Q: It seems these type of government "crises" happen often. Have there been long-term effects on investor behavior due to these crises, in your opinion?
A: These kinds of crises happen over and over again. Sadly, it seems to be a normal routine in Washington. These types of events do affect the market in the short term, but the story is different for the long term. This will be discussed more fully at the seminar.
Q: What is the most important advice you think investors should hear concerning these government crises?
A: I believe that you always have to look at your investments with a long-term perspective in mind. If you focus on the short term, it will be a very bumpy and emotional ride at times. Speak with a trusted adviser that can help educate you, talk with you about your goals, explain to you what risk is and can help design a portfolio to help you reach your goals. Also, try to learn as much as you can because your investment decisions are ultimately your own.
Q: Now that a short-term deal has been reached in Washington, do you think your event is still relevant?
A: Yes, the event is still relevant. Educating yourself about what it takes to be a successful investor is always relevant. And when these kinds of events happen in the future, as we believe they will, you will be better prepared to handle the volatility.

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