Surviving a Bear Market

Surviving a Bear Market

Originally published 10/28/22: The current economic environment is testing the discipline of even the savviest of investors. Some may panic and jump ship, while others will ride it out and wait for calmer waters. Which mindset do you have?

All markets move in cycles, including periods of steep contraction. Since equity markets have reached multiple record highs over the last few years a downturn was inevitable. But, if the term “bear market” scares you, here are some facts to put it in

•  Bear markets are normal. Since its inception in the late 1920s, the modern S&P 500 has seen 26 bear markets – stocks lost 36% on average. During that same time long-term investors were rewarded with 27 bull markets where stocks gained an average of 114%.*

•  The average frequency between bear markets is 3.6 years. You could see about 14 bear markets during a 50-year investment window. Since 1930, the market has been bearish for a time equal to 20.6 years. This means that stocks have been on the rise the other 71.4 years!*

•  Bear markets last for significantly less time than bull markets. Bears last on average 9.6 months. Bulls last on average 2.7 years.*

*Source:; 6/13/22

These are challenging times, but the markets have historically proven remarkably resilient over the long term. Stick with your well-diversified, long-term financial plan, partner with a trusted financial advisor, and keep inflammatory headlines in perspective to stay on course toward your financial objectives.

Author: Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®
Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Branch Operations Manager

Volatility isn’t likely to go away in the coming months, but you shouldn’t have to handle difficult markets alone. Your financial advisor can be your trusted guide. Here are a few questions to help ensure you’re getting the service and advice you need:

Does your advisor review your investments daily?

Our advisors review fund performance daily, weekly, and monthly. And our Investment Committee systematically tests and replaces positions in advisory accounts that no longer meet our standards. This diligence is especially important in volatile markets.

Do you meet with your advisor at least once a year?

What do you talk about? These meetings should be more than just a chance to catch up. Have market conditions thrown your investment strategy off-track? How do recent life events affect your estate plan? Do new tax laws affect you? We meet with clients at least once each year, and more frequently based on their needs.


Given today’s environment, getting a second opinion about your plan could help you make smarter decisions. Just like you, our clients want to be able to enjoy life and take care of the people they care about. They look to us for help living the life they’ve imagined no matter what is happening in the financial markets or economy.

Call 605.357.8553 or email today to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation appointment with one of our wealth advisors.

Any opinions are those of Jill Mollner and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This content is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, an endorsement, or recommendations for any individual. Raymond James Financial Advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Holding stocks for the long-term does not insure a profitable outcome. Investing in stocks always involves risk, including the possibility of losing one’s entire investment. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional. 2022.10.28 #30410. 2023.11.01 #325547

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Quiz – Market Volatility vs Risk

What’s the Difference Between Market Volatility and Risk? 

While volatility is not the same as risk, the chances of incurring a loss may increase during periods of market volatility, in large part, that’s because investors become anxious about falling share prices and sell when they might be better off holding.

See what you know about the difference between risk and volatility by taking this brief quiz.

 1. What is market volatility?

a. Asset prices rising over a period of time.

b. Asset prices falling over a period of time.

c. The frequency and size of asset price swings, higher and lower.

d. A measure of how easy it is to buy and sell stock.


2. What is risk?

a. The chance of losing some or all of an investment.

b. The chance that actual investment returns will be different from anticipated investment returns.

c. A vulnerability that can be managed through asset allocation and diversification.

d. All of the above.


3. How can the effects of stock market volatility be limited?

a. By timing the market

b. By avoiding bonds

c. Through asset allocation and investment diversification

d. By avoiding stocks


4. Which famous investor said, “When people are desperately trying to sell, I buy. When people are desperately trying to buy, I sell. It has worked out very well over the years.”

a. Warren Buffett

b. Abby Joseph Cohen

c. Sir John Templeton

d. Abigail Johnson

Answers: 1) c1; 2) d2; 3) c3; 4) c4


If you feel overwhelmed and uncertain because of volatile markets, give us a call. You don’t have to go it alone! We can help you make sound decisions during difficult times.

Not a Cornerstone client?

Discover what’s possible when our 140 years of combined team experience and 30 years in business goes to work for you! Call 605-352-9490 or email



Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.






CSP #242150 07.18.23

5 Tips When Planning For Uncertainty

Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®
Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Branch Operations Manager, CFS



That’s been the topic of many a news story in the past year. But economists have varying opinions on whether we are, based on the technical definition of a recession.

Investopedia notes that a recession happens when the economy stops growing and begins to contract.1 And NerdWallet says that it’s generally two consecutive quarters of a slowing economic activity.2

But despite historic inflation in the past year, and several interest rate increases by the Federal reserve, due to the strong labor market over the past year (though that is starting to slow down), we still technically aren’t in a recession. Some economists say we are headed for a soft landing, which happens when economic growth slows, but doesn’t decline. Other economists say we are in a rolling recession.

Forbes reports that a rolling recession is one that doesn’t have the same impact on the entire economy, but rather it affects different market sectors at different times.3 Some sectors might be spared altogether.

The Conference Board predicts that we may soon be in a recession. They predict we will have three quarters of negative economic growth starting in the first quarter of 2023 but predict the downturn will be mild and brief. The good news is they also predict a rebound in 2024.4

But the definition of what’s happening isn’t as important as the fact that we are here to help you navigate it.


Whether it’s a rolling recession or the type of recession that hits the entire economy all at once, there are steps we can take to prepare.

The good news is we’ve already begun taking those steps together. We’ve talked about it and planned for it in case it happens. But it’s always a good idea to have a refresher on some of the basics:5

  • Stock your emergency fund. Get your budget in order and figure out what you spend per month so that way you can put enough away in your emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.
  • Focus on paying down debt. We can discuss whether it would be best for you to pay down high-interest debt or tackle the smaller balances first, but either way, prioritize paying down your debt.
  • Reevaluate your expenditures. See where you can get creative with saving. We can explore this together, but take time to look at your insurance policies, utilities, and other cell phone bills to see if you can save in any area.
  • Refresh your resume. If you are still in the workforce, it’s always a good idea to refresh your resume and get it professionally edited. Layoffs have been impacting thousands of workers since late last year and Investopedia reports that no sector is safe. It’s just best to be prepared.6

We can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, but we can prepare for various outcomes. If you’re feeling fearful or want to talk to us about any of this, give us a call and let’s work on our plan.




If you have questions about your financial plan please contact us today to schedule a complimentary, no obligation review with one of our advisors. Call 605.357.8553 or email

Investment Committee Meeting Recap Q1


Andrew Ulvestad, AAMS®
Wealth Advisor

After a weak February, markets rallied in March. U.S. markets were up by low single digits, while bond markets were in the same range. International markets also showed modest gains, with developed markets about the same as the U.S. and emerging markets doing slightly better. This was a stronger start to 2023 than most had
expected, and it may signal how the rest of the year will play out.

The US economy remained resilient, driven by consumer spending. While consumers are shifting spending from goods to services, overall spending continues at a healthy clip. But three factors—dwindling excess savings, higher interest rates and softening job creation— should curb growth soon.

In the short term, the economy may  xperience slower growth, and markets could struggle given increased risks to earnings growth. The second quarter may be tougher for markets than the start of the year. At the same time, as we look further forward, a strong first quarter has historically been a positive sign for the year as a whole.

We can reasonably expect more volatility in the short term, but the longer-term picture remains. The progress on inflation drove the gains during the first quarter. While it is still too high, it is well below where it started the year. With the Fed having hiked rates at a fast pace, markets are now convinced that inflation will come under control, as the benchmark yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped significantly in March.

Equity markets want the Fed and inflation to get off of their cloud. Why? Because equities tend to rally when the Fed ends its tightening cycle, inflation decelerates, and interest rates fall. Assuming the Fed doesn’t overtighten and take the economy into a severe recession, S&P 500 earnings should remain solid.

If anything, the economy’s better-than-expected start this year gives us more confidence in the upside potential. A weaker dollar, quickly improving supply chains, and easing commodity and labor costs should help support margins. The current decline in equities has likely already priced in a mild recession. When we finally get to the recession, sentiment should turn more positive— as markets anticipate coming out of it.


Duration measures a bond’s price sensitivity to interest rate changes.

During our Investment Committee Meeting in April, we discussed these economic and market themes and analyzed our strategies in detail. Based on our outlook and anticipation that rate hikes will slow or stop, we believe it may be prudent to keep fixed income duration low. While we have a more favorable outlook on value currently, we anticipate that to shift to a more neutral outlook of growth and value as we try to best position ourselves for both the short and long term.

As always, thank you for your continued trust. Market corrections – even recessions – are part of normal  market cycles, but it’s perfectly natural to be unnerved. Stay focused on your personal goals, don’t get overwhelmed by media hype, and remember we’re here to help. Contact us if you have any questions or would  like to review your plan.

Not a Cornerstone client? Call 605-357-8553 or email to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation review!

This content is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, an endorsement, or  recommendations for any individual. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk,  including possible loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional.


5 Lessons I Learned from Previous Bear Markets

2023 will mark 30 years in this business, so I have been through my share of market downturns.  And like you, I don’t enjoy them either!  With my experience I have learned a lot of valuable lessons.



1. Downturns are only temporary:  

If history has shown me anything, it’s that even the worst bear markets don’t last forever.  No one knows for certain how long with downturn will last or how far stock prices might drop. 



Previous bear markets weren’t easy, either. During the Great Recession, the S&P 500 fell around 57%. When the dot-com bubble burst, it dropped close to 50%. During the coronavirus crash, the market plummeted by around 33% in a matter of weeks.



Despite everything, though, the market eventually bounced back. No matter how severe this downturn becomes, things will get better.



2. I’ve seen this before: 

There are thoughtful, experienced economists and professional investors who can give you well-reasoned arguments why this bear market is different, why the economic problems are different and why this time things may get worse. But while some others might tell you, “This time is different,” my message to you is, “I’ve seen this before.”  I don’t know if the current decline will fit into the bear markets past. But what I do know is that every bear period has eventually ended, and the market started back up again.



3. A better tomorrow: 

Over time, and in time, the financial markets have demonstrated a remarkable ability to anticipate a better tomorrow even when today’s news feels awful. While no one can predict the future, and no two market declines are the same, we have been here before. We’ve learned how to survive and prosper when markets begin to recover.



4. Perfect timing is impossible: 

The fact that no one knows when a bear market will end is one reason it’s a mistake to put off investing or pull money out of the market. Compounding the problem, stocks tend to surge at the start of a new bull market. So, by the time it’s obvious that the bear market is over, a big chunk of the gains is already in the books.  



5. Market disturbances are a fact of life for investors:





Sources: MSCI, RIMES. As of 6/30/22. Data is indexed to 100 on 1/1/87, based on the MSCI World Index from 1/1/87–12/31/87, the MSCI ACWI with gross returns from 1/1/88–12/31/00, and the MSCI ACWI with net returns thereafter. Shown on a logarithmic scale. Returns are in USD.



As long as I’ve been in this business, I’ve seen the market swing from excessive enthusiasm to extreme pessimism. Warren Buffett said it best: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Put another way, bear markets are an investor’s friend, provided they remain calm, patient and focus on the long term.