US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden are seen during the final presidential debate. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Tuesday’s presidential election has been described as the most important in U.S. history. Investors may be wondering: What should I do differently if there’s another four years of President Donald Trump versus a Joe Biden presidency?
For most people: Very little.
You usually shouldn’t make changes to your portfolio in response to short-term events, like an election, experts say.
“For the average investor, if you have a long-term investment outlook, the election should not be effecting your overall strategy,” said Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner at Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
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That’s because while the election results will have profound impacts on the world and history, it’s harder to tell how it will hit your 401(k) plan.
The market is unpredictable.
“Conventional wisdom would seem to imply that Republicans would be more business friendly, which would be beneficial for stocks,” said Alex Doll, a certified financial planner and the president of Anfield Wealth Management in Cleveland.
However, he said, the S&P 500‘s average annual return since 1933, accounting for inflation, has been between 6% and 7%, regardless of who is in charge.
Whether Trump of Biden wins, he added, “our allocation to equities will most likely stay unchanged.”
One thing that’s more certain is that people who can stay invested over long periods of time typically come out on top.
If someone put $10,000 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1900, but only had it invested when a Republican president was in charge, they’d have around $100,000 today, according to a recent analysis by Charles Schwab. They’d have around $430,000 if they only kept the money invested under Democratic presidents.
But if they’d left the money in the market regardless of which party was in the White House? They’d have more than $4 million today.
“It’s the long wave of economic fundamentals that drives the markets beyond any one election or any one party,” said Jurrien Timmer, director of Global Macro at Fidelity Investments.
Doll agreed: “Our main advice for clients is to take this time to reevaluate your risk tolerance and financial plan, then treat this election as you would any other noise.”