Cara was recently featured in the Spinal Column publication on April 27th, 2016.


West Oakland Women 

Ask a financial advisor: Cara Gardner offers investment tips 


Question: My wife and I are planning to retire in a few years, how can we manage our investment

risk in a volatile stock market that doesn’t seem to be climbing much? How much of our money

should we have in the market? What are our other options besides the stock market?


Answer: The stock market seems to be trading in a range right now and arguably has been for the past year or two. There are several strategies that all investors should pay attention to, especially in a stock market experiencing ups and downs.


One of those is “Dollar Cost Averaging.” This is best described as the buying of shares of a given investment at different high and low price points in the market, that will over time average the price you paid for that particular investment. For example, if you buy ten shares of a stock at $10 per share and then you buy ten shares of the same stock a month later at $6 per share, the average price per share of your 20 shares of that stock is now $8 per share. The advantage in my example is that the investment value only needs to climb above $8 per share for your investment to have a profit … not $10 per share.


When you purchase shares frequently, you tend to buy on some of the dips. If you have a 401(k) you are probably doing this naturally with each paycheck.


As for how much of your money you should have in the market, this is a customer-specific figure. When I meet with clients looking to retire soon I ask a lot of questions about their goals, income needs, debts, other investments, sources of income, social security income, etc. Timing is also a very important consideration. In general, someone looking to retire in a few years should have less risk in their portfolios than someone who has 25 years until retirement.


You’ve probably heard the old adage, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Diversification is the investment strategy that can help you manage your risk by spreading your assets over different investment categories and sectors of the market.

There are certainly other investment choices for clients besides the stock market. You probably aren’t getting much interest in a bank held savings account today, so where else should you look? Again, it is different for every client, but there are many investment options for people besides stocks.


Fixed investments that include CD’s, money markets and fixed annuities are important options. There are also alternative investment categories that include REIT’s, UIT’s and more that help reduce the risk in the portfolio.


Overall, seeking guidance from a trusted advisor can help you navigate through your choices and make sure you come up with the right mix of investment products that addresses your specific needs to help you reach your goals. 


Cara Gardner, a financial advisor with Mark Epps Financial Advisory Services, is an independent advisor in Bloomfield Hills(36360 Woodard Avenue). She is also a board member of the Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and trustee of the Britt Perrotta Sommerfield Trust charity.