American Funds ®

Market Fluctuations

Four Principles for Investment Success

These fundamental principles can help you chart a course through today’s investment environment.

Stay True to Your Objectives

If you’re like most investors today, you’re concerned about market volatility. And that means you’re probably paying close attention to the daily stream of news tracking the market’s ups and downs.

Problem: Where you focus your attention can influence the way you perceive your own progress.

Solution: Look past the inevitable market swings and steady drumbeat of news. If you stay focused on your own financial objectives, you’re more likely to stay on track and attain success.

To get a sense of how powerful context can be, take a look at the illustrations below.

The Same 20-Year Period From 3 Distinct Perspectives

The Media

Focusing on short-term fluctuations can make investing confusing and uncomfortable.

The Markets

Even a year-by-year look at returns can emphasize how much an investment lost during declines instead of how much it grew over time.

Your Objectives

Focusing on long-term goals can help you avoid being sidetracked or distracted by ever-changing market conditions.


Be a Realist

While periods of economic and market strength often inspire investor optimism, market turmoil can lead to intense investor pessimism.

Problem: Your emotions can lead to poor investment decisions, such as buying stocks at or near market highs and selling near market lows.

Solution: Rather than soar in the heights and dwell in the depths, take a realistic approach to investing that includes maintaining a well-diversified portfolio.

This chart shows how money has flowed into and out of the market as it has risen and faltered.

Why a 116% Advance Didn’t Feel So Good


Don’t Confuse Safety for Security

The market volatility and economic uncertainty of the past 4 years severely undermined investor confidence. As a result, you may have given up on equity investing, instead seeking out the safety of cash.

Problem: If you’re in or near retirement and are starting to rely on your investments for income, having all of your assets in cash could leave you more vulnerable to the potentially damaging effects of inflation.

Solution: Although past results are not predictive of future results, stocks and bonds have generated relatively attractive returns that have outpaced inflation. Of course, stocks and bonds have also been more vulnerable than cash, so including cash investments in your portfolio can add a measure of stability.

In the following illustrations, you can see how important stocks and bonds are to a well-diversified portfolio.

Why Stocks and Bonds Matter Long-Term

The Impact to Investors Taking Income


Plan for the Ups and Downs

Market cycles inevitably include periods of strength and weakness.

Problem: The precise duration and scope of bull and bear markets are never clear until after the fact. So trying to time these cycles consistently is nearly impossible.

Solution: Sticking with a well-constructed investment plan is a key to long-term success. An objective-based approach to investing mirrors the way you manage your other personal finances. It divides your assets based on your needs and goals.

  • First, there’s the money you need to cover everyday and emergency expenses (preservation).
  • Then, there’s the money you set aside for the future (balance).
  • The rest goes toward helping you build assets to fulfill your long-term goals (appreciation).

The result is an investment portfolio that is aligned with your short-term needs and long-term goals — A portfolio that can give you the confidence you need to stay with your plan when markets go to extremes.

Like other investments, Preservation investments can lose value.

Stay Focused on Your Objectives

Throughout history and across market cycles, investors have always faced uncertainty, discouraging headlines and bouts of high volatility. But over time, patient investors have been rewarded.

Following these 4 timeless principles of investing and working with your financial professional to create and maintain a well-diversified portfolio can help you achieve your long-term goals.

Note: It’s important to work with your financial professional when making changes to your financial plan.


Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses , which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing.   

Investments are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so they may lose value.  

Standard & Poor's 500 Composite Index is a market capitalization-weighted index based on the average weighted results of 500 widely held common stocks.