DES MOINES, Iowa With such a volatile financial services market, 401(k) holders are nervous about whether they should be making changes in their portfolios. The Associated Press spoke with financial advisers about what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do.
Question: Should I be considering changes in my 401(k) in response to the rapidly changing financial services sector?
Answer: The market reaction to Lehman Brothers' Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing should not push you into selling off stocks in a knee-jerk fashion, said Rick Meigs, founder and president of the 401khelpcenter.com. "What's going to happen is at some point in time down road, perhaps six to 12 months, the markets will start climbing, and you're going to be out of the market."
Underscoring that you shouldn't be reactionary, Meigs said you should look at your asset allocation and rebalance only if you had planned to.
For example, he said, some people may have an overly aggressive investment plan in which all of their money is in the stock market. If you're 55 and you're 100 percent in stocks, you're probably too aggressive and, you should allocate more money in bonds or other safer investments to spread out chances for loss.
Meigs stresses that you should tinker with allocation only as you might in a normal market. Otherwise, he said leave it alone and ride out the storm.
In response to the Lehman Brothers announcement, Meigs offers two pieces of advice:
• Check to see if your 401(k) plan offers financial advice from a professional. Many do. Take advantage of that and discuss your portfolio balance.
• Ask your 401(k) administrator at your employer whether you have Lehman funds in your 401(k) plan and if so, determine your exposure to financial and other sectors, which may guide your rebalancing.
Question: Should I consider converting assets to cash or certificates of deposit, or anything that might be safer than stocks?
Answer: Having accessible cash or money in CDs is a good part of a balanced financial plan, said Diahann Lassus, of Lassus Wherley & Associates. But transferring significant invested assets as a reaction to the market is not good planning.
Going to cash and CDs now means "you've given up all your gains plus you're going to miss out on any opportunity when the market recovers," she said.
Markets always recover, said Lassus. She said it appears the Lehman Brothers case has been handled in an orderly manner and the invested assets will likely be transferred to another company.