By Bill McNabb, chairman and chief executive officer, The Vanguard Group, Inc.
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
As we begin 2017, I’m struck by the questions we’ve been receiving from our investors. Never before — not even during the Global Financial Crisis — have investors come to us with such specific concerns about the movements of the markets and governments around the world.
We’re living in unprecedented times, so we certainly can’t predict what this year will bring. And if you know Vanguard, you should know not to expect “hot” tips or “sure bets” from us either. But I do have four suggestions that I believe can help investors reach their goals.
1. Prepare for uncertainty. Several political and economic events caught observers by surprise in 2016, including the results of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the presidential election in the United States and the federal election in Australia. Markets respond to surprises with volatility, and we expect more surprises in 2017. With a new US administration comes the potential for changes to policies that affect investors. Some may be beneficial; some may trigger market volatility. The best approach in any environment is to maintain a long-term perspective and a balanced and diversified portfolio.
2. Save more. In addition to potential near-term volatility, we expect the equity and bond markets to produce lower returns in the next ten years than they have over the past several decades. This will place the burden on investors to save more. Saving more is an asymmetrical proposition: If you don’t save enough and the markets don’t assist you, there’s nothing you can do. If you over-save and do well, great – you can retire a few years earlier.
3. Safeguard your assets. As the threat of cybercrime continues to grow, we work hard to protect our clients’ assets and data. But investors must be aware of the risks and take precautions too.
4. Stay well-informed. Great investors understand how all the pieces fit together. Become familiar with all the components of your portfolio and know the role that each one plays in your investment plan. Stay abreast of the markets and economy but don’t be driven by their movements. I realise it sounds paradoxical to say, “Stay current but resist the urge to act.” But that’s exactly what you should do.
Thank you for entrusting your assets to Vanguard. Here’s to a prosperous 2017.
F. William McNabb III
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Vanguard Group, Inc.