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RETIREMENT: Investing for the long term


DALLAS (BP)–The MyDestination Funds launched earlier this year by GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention provide an asset allocation that keeps an investor’s portfolio mix in balance, an especially important feature considering recent ups and downs in stock values, according to GuideStone officials.

The funds are targeted to 10-year increments, allowing GuideStone investors to choose the fund closest to their retirement date and to have a diversified portfolio in one fund.

It’s easy for retirement investors to question whether they should move their money and how they should respond to a run-up or a downturn in the market

“The key, whenever we see the market climb or drop,” said John Jones, GuideStone’s chief operating officer, “is to keep in mind the long-term nature of investing for retirement. Most financial experts assert that one’s investment time frame goes beyond retirement and should be tied to one’s life expectancy.

“The MyDestination Funds take into account the number of years until a participant’s retirement date and keep the asset allocation in check through the years, becoming more conservative as the retirement date nears and beyond.”

There are twin dangers when the markets are growing, Jones explained. One danger is imbalanced investing when an investor’s normal asset allocation becomes skewed as stocks or bonds outperform each other. The other danger is attempting to time the market. An investor who falls into this trap may sit on the sidelines, waiting for a decline, known as a correction, and miss out on market gains.

Markets move up and down in cycles. When stocks were outperforming bonds in the late 1990s, it was hard to believe that bonds would beat stocks in the early 2000s but that is exactly what happened. It is important to have an investment strategy geared toward the long term, GuideStone officials advise, noting that investment decisions should never be made on the spur of the moment, or based on one day’s or one month’s performance.

GuideStone Financial Resources makes available the MyDestination Funds through its GuideStone Funds affiliate. In these lifecycle, or date-target, funds, the allocation becomes more conservative as the investor approaches his target retirement date. It also maintains an appropriate stocks-to-bonds ratio based on the number of years until retirement and even beyond retirement. Investors should monitor their accounts periodically and make sure they are making appropriate contributions to keep pace with their retirement goals, GuideStone officials add.

Investors who choose a do-it-yourself approach, as with GuideStone Funds’ Select funds, also should look at their portfolios periodically. If market growth has caused the portfolio to be out of balance in its stocks-to-bonds ratio, adjustments might be needed. GuideStone participants can sign up for the free automatic reallocation service through the online services section of the website, www.GuideStone.org, or by calling customer service at 1-888-984-8433 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST. With automatic reallocation, an investor’s allocation is rebalanced on a regular basis.

Even when the market is growing, it’s important to remember that it is prone to react to negative news or major world events, Jones said, noting that in times of a market sell-off, as occurred in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the fundamentals of investing for the long term still apply.
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Roy Hayhurst is senior marketing communications editor in strategic marketing for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Roy Hayhurst
    Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.Read All by Roy Hayhurst ›