Who do you want down in the hole with you?
For almost 20 years this story has stuck with me. It is from a 2001 episode of the West Wing. Leo was imparting some wisdom on the younger more headstrong Josh. The story goes like this:
"This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out.
"A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
"Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
"Then a friend walks by, 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.'"
How does this story relate to investing, retirement planning or financial planning??
It has been over 10 years since US investors experienced a lengthy negative market. Every financial advisor who joined the profession after 2008 had never experienced a significant and prolonged bear market.
Think about that for a moment. Someone in my profession who proclaims to be experienced because they have been an advisor for 10 years has never experienced a bear market.
We have. More than once. In other words, we’ve been down in the hole. We know the way out.
There is another bear market in our future. No one knows when it will happen. When it does, who would you rather have down in that hole with you? Someone who has been there before or someone who hasn’t?