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When stocks plummet, it can be easy to panic and consider pulling money out of the market — but financial experts say that's not the right move.
Here's some good news: Investors appear to know that. Less than 10% of people said that now's the time to sell investments to prevent further losses, according to a poll from Money and decision intelligence company Morning Consult of 2,210 adults conducted online in late May.
Survey respondents were asked about their opinions on investing right now, given the way the stock market has struggled so far in 2022. The options were that you should continue to hold investments but not invest any more money (which 28% of respondents chose), you should continue to hold your investments and continue investing more money (35%), or you should sell to prevent further losses (9%).
Respondents were told to choose the answer that aligns most closely with their opinion, even if none were exactly correct, and 28% said they didn't know or have an opinion.
"It shows wisdom and long-term thinking among investors," Charlotte Principato, financial services analyst Morning Consult, told Money via email.
Stocks had one of their worst starts to the year, with the S&P 500 briefly entering bear market territory — a drop of at least 20% in prices from recent highs — in May. After recovering slightly, the index is still down more than 13% for the year while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is down around 23%.
Time to sell stocks? Opinion varies by generation, income
Investors definitely didn't agree across the board on what to do with a portfolio in the face of volatility. The survey found some differences when looking at demographics.
While 13% of Gen Z respondents and 13% of millennial respondents said you should sell your investments to prevent further losses, only 10% of Gen X-ers and 4% of baby boomers said the same. Unsurprisingly, then, 27% of Gen Z respondents said you should continue to hold your investments and continue investing more money, while 32% of millennials, 34% of Gen X-ers and 43% of baby boomers said the same.
Previous reports have found that many Gen Z and millennial investors seek out investing advice on social media, where strategies that involve reacting to market moves — like buying the dip — are popular. Buying riskier assets like meme stocks and cryptocurrency has also been popular among younger investors, despite financial advisors warning that owning a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and cash and staying the course is a better move.
There was also a small gender divide: 11% of male respondents said you should sell your investments to prevent further losses, while just 7% of female respondents said the same.
Of course, not everyone is able to continue investing. "Being able to continue to invest more in this market is a privilege," Principato says.
People who earn more money were more likely to think that it's best to keep investing this year. While 25% of respondents with an income under $50,000 said you should continue to hold your investments and continue investing more money, 43% of respondents with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 and 56% of those with incomes above $100,000 said the same, according to the survey.
Higher-income adults have discretionary income to put toward long-term goals, while those from lower-income households may not have money available to invest during this time of high inflation, Principato says.