Despite economic uncertainty, it’s a ‘great moment’ for dollar-cost averaging, says Betterment CEO

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Investors are bracing for 2023 amid stock market volatility, rising interest rates and geopolitical risk — with many carrying recession fears into the new year.  

But despite economic uncertainty, financial experts point to timely opportunities, urging investors to put cash into the market, rather than leaving it on the sidelines.

Agreeing with many in the advisor community, Betterment CEO Sarah Levy said she expects a “turbulent and volatile first half of 2023,” but her long-term outlook is optimistic.  

“Over a five- and 10-year horizon, this is a great moment for that dollar-cost averaging opportunity,” she said, speaking at CNBC’s Financial Advisor Summit on Tuesday.

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The strategy behind dollar-cost averaging is putting your money to work by investing at set intervals over time, regardless of what happens in the market. 

While research shows investing a lump sum sooner may offer higher returns, some experts say dollar-cost averaging may help prevent emotional investment decisions.

After double-digit losses in 2022 for both the stock and bond markets, it’s easy to see why some may be hesitant to continue investing. But experts say the fear of loss can be costly, and you may miss the market’s best recovery days.

The 10 best days over the past 20 years happened after big declines during the 2008 financial crisis or the pullback in 2020, according to an analysis from J.P. Morgan. 

“Take control of the things you can control,” Levy said, noting that automated, recurring investments can help “take the emotion out of the equation,” when the markets dip, she said.

There are opportunities for cash as interest rates rise

Currently, consumers have $1.5 trillion in excess savings from the Covid pandemic, but are spending 10% more than in 2021, and “inflation is eroding everything,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”    

However, rising interest rates have made high-yield savings accounts more attractive, Levy said. Investors may benefit if they’re keeping money at the “right institutions” where higher yield is being passed along to the consumer, she said.

“Money in a savings account is accessible capital,” Levy said. “There really isn’t any benefit to locking money up with any kind of duration.”

Sophie Tremblay

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