I just got home from three days with over 3,200 financial planners.

You: How is that even possible?  I didn’t think there were even 3,200 people in New Hampshire.

I was at the 2008 Financial Planning Association’s annual conference in Boston. It just finished yesterday.

You:   Crazy timing.  Was everyone stressed out?

While it was, indeed, strange timing given the markets’ continued slide, no one was jumping out of the window.

You: How about off the roof?

Nope, no jumping.  While some joked that our conference had a therapeutic purpose as much as an educational and networking one, we mostly went about our way as though the market was having a typical week.

You: What I’m afraid of is that this week’s steep slide seems to be turning into a typical week.

I know.  But just like the financial planners aren’t jumping from windows, roofs or bridges, neither should you.  And, anecdotally at least, you aren’t.   We financial planners discussed how many of our clients were not freaking out. In fact, many of our clients were asking if now was the right time to put more money on the sidelines.

You: Really?

Yes. It is these people who genuinely understand how investing really works; that it was always fraught with risk. It’s just that, more recently, the true manifestation of risk has appeared.

You: In a big way.

Exactly.  I’m not saying that there aren’t individual investors pulling out large amounts of money.  Some are.  Plus, if this steep slide has caused your portfolio to become improperly allocated, now is a good time to adjust it – probably by (ironically) adding stocks to your portfolio.

You: For real?

Yes. Look at it like this: it’s one thing to “sell high.” You can’t do that right now.

You: No #@%$.

But remember: the other part of that phrase is to “buy low.”

You: Seems low to me.  But couldn’t it get lower still?

Of course.  But if the market was a good buy a year ago, it should be a great buy now.  It could be an even better buy in six months, of course, but we aren’t talking about six months, right?

You:  No. Can’t put invest in stocks with a six month time horizon.

Right. So when you’re talking many years from now, my bet (which is all it is) is that we’ll look back to October 2008 as a great buying opportunity.

You: But will it be the best?

I have no idea. Neither does your financial advisor.  Nor, for that matter, does anyone else.

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