After a decade of economic growth, fears of a recession are swirling among other societal and political instigators of financial volatility. It’s enough to make people wonder if there is some sort of crystal ball to look into for assurance on how safe their investments and savings are.


Michael Stanis and Scott Wyckoff, senior portfolio managers and principals at Johnson Investment Counsel, have seen before how these fears can manifest into impulsive actions and stress the importance of having a long-term plan and sticking to it.


“It’s always wait-and-see,” says Wyckoff, adding that no one knows when a crash or recession will actually happen. “Our way of doing it for 55 years at this point is set the long-term target for your investment portfolio and stick to it and don’t do anything rash.”


“We don’t profess to be able to predict the markets—if we could do that, we’d have something that nobody else does,” Stanis adds with a laugh. Advisers like he and Wyckoff, though, are always keeping a close eye on developments for their clients. Trade conflict and talks between the United States and China, as well as the upcoming 2020 elections, are creating volatility amid an economy that is slowing though still growing, which is only natural after the record-setting run of growth after the 2008 recession.


Wyckoff points out that isn’t unexpected and, thus, not a cause for panic. For his clients and Stanis’, it’s about having a personal wealth and savings plan that has steady long-term goals while ensuring short-term liquidity needs are met through investing in assets with lower volatility. Stanis explains that that same volatility can present unique opportunities to buy high quality stocks and assets that will briefly be available at a reduced cost.


Though Wyckoff admits there are unique factors heading into 2020, such as the open conflict between the president and the Federal Reserve and the extremity of difference with regards to tax code policy among 2020 electoral candidates, he emphasizes the crucial difference between short-term and long-term political effects on the stock market.


“In the past, presidential elections have not had all that much influence on stock market performance over time,” he points out. “In the short term, yes; but over time, the stock market goes up regardless of who’s in the White House, on average.”


But above all, wealth management and saving for retirement is about personal goals and, in turn, personal responsibility.


“Nothing outside of your control matters as much as controlling what you can control: namely, living below your means and saving your money,” Wyckoff says. “If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter who wins the election as it relates to your nest egg, because you won’t have one. Control what you can control.”


Stanis agrees and explains it in terms of a football analogy: It may not be the sexy answer, but long-term money management is about the fundamentals just like a winning football team always works on blocking and tackling.


“As people approach retirement, I like to tell people to minimize those nondiscretionary expenses that some have such as a mortgage, fixed car payments, that sort of thing,” he says. “Whatever income you do have coming into retirement, if you don’t have those fixed expenses it will make it much more comfortable to absorb any of these waves that you may see with the changes in the market.”