Personal Finance: What do I do if coronavirus has impacted the value of my investments?

Carl Lamb of Smith and Pinching on what to do if the value of your investment portfolio has slipped.

Carl Lamb of Smith and Pinching on what to do if the value of your investment portfolio has slipped. Picture: Smith and Pinching/Getty - Credit: Smith and Pinching/Getty

This week, Carl Lamb of Smith and Pinching advises people on what they should do if their investments have dropped in value due to the coronavirus.

Reader question:

I’m really worried that the value of my investment portfolio has dropped dramatically over the past couple of weeks because of the Coronavirus situation.

MORE: Personal finance: What happens if I can’t pay my car PCP because of coronavirus?I have a mixed portfolio with lots of different funds but the losses seem to be across the board.

I know that investing in equities is always subject to the rise and fall of the stock exchange and that things like Cash ISAs and National Savings Bonds are a lot safer.

Should I move some or all of my investments now to make sure my money is safe?

Smith and Pinching response:

I can’t tell you exactly what to do with your portfolio at this stage as I don’t know what you have in it or anything about you, your circumstances and your objectives.

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However, the one thing I can say is that cashing in your investments when the market has seen a significant drop is usually not a good idea.

When investment values fall, investors suffer “paper losses”, i.e. they are not “actual losses” unless the funds are sold.

Most clients who invest in equities are doing so for the medium to long term and so unless there is a real need to capitalise the investment at a particular point in time, we would normally recommend to wait until markets recover before moving money around.

On a more positive note, investing at this time buys you more shares or units for your money. When markets recover and prices go back up, you will own more shares/units at a higher price.

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I’m not denying that we are in a unique situation at the moment and we have no idea how long the world will be affected by the COVID-19 virus.

It is likely that financial markets will recover once countries and companies are able to start doing business again, but that could take some considerable time.

However, it is rarely advisable to take knee-jerk decisions about short term changes in markets. Keep calm and carry on is a good mantra in most cases.

If you have an independent financial adviser, it may be worth a conversation with him or her to reassure you that your portfolio is suitable for you in terms of the level of risk you are taking and your investment objectives.

If you don’t have one, maybe now is the time to get advice.

Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice.

The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up.

The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.