Markets fluctuate, but when they become extremely volatile you may find yourself feeling the drops in the pit of your stomach. So why don't financial advisors look as queasy as the average investor - do they know something you don't? We asked Rich Guerrini, President and CEO of PNC Investments (PNCI), how he stays optimistic. Here's what he told us.

1. "There is a difference between what you're invested in and what you've invested for."

Successful investing always comes back to your long-term goals, so think through your financial plan independent of what the market is doing. Have your goals or timeframes changed? If an investment is down, don't view its performance in a vacuum. If your circumstances have shifted, it may be time to talk to your financial advisor about making changes, but that's true in any market. If you don’t have a written financial plan it’s something you should consider. 

2. "We've planned for this."

Price swings are normal and in a diversified portfolio, each asset class or investment is meant to serve a specific purpose. A good financial plan anticipates ups and downs, and includes diverse investment types that complement one another and perform under differing conditions. When one investment is down, something else is likely to be up, helping to counteract any negative effects. Think about why you selected the investment vehicle in the first place and what role it plays in your portfolio. If the reasons for buying are still valid, sit tight and keep your eyes on the long view - give your investments time to do what they were meant to. 

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3. "There's a lot of hype out there."

It's difficult to make reasoned decisions when you're bombarded with the sensationalist language used by the media. Sure, a segment or index may be falling today - but how does that apply to what you actually own? Ignore the noise. Rely on facts provided by your financial advisor to see how current conditions affect your portfolio. Then remind yourself about points one and two above. 

4. "Emotions can drive bad decisions."

It can be tempting to try to cut your losses and sell as the market is falling, or to try to buy in to the market at just the right time. Unfortunately, nobody knows when those days will be. What we do know is that investments on their own often outperform the results of individual investors. Why? Perhaps people try to time the market, or aren't willing to hold securities for long enough. But if you exit the market and miss the rebound, it may be more challenging for investors with a shorter time horizon to catch-up.

5. "Living with risk isn't easy."

We get it. Everyone tries to gauge their comfort level with risk during the planning stages, when the market is performing well and their risk appetite is likely greater. The real test of one’s risk tolerance comes when the market drops, and theoretical losses become real dollars. If you think you've taken on more risk than you can live with, turn the equation around. Work with your financial advisor to determine what returns you truly need to meet your goals. Then adjust your portfolio mix to strike a more appropriate balance between risk and reward. 

6. "Talking with someone helps."

Two heads are definitely better than one when you're feeling stressed and need help staying on course. Your financial advisor can help you sort through the noise, provide additional perspective, and either make any warranted changes or merely reassure you that you’re still on track with your financial plan. 

7. "Don't worry about what you can't control."

Instead of trying to gain control of the uncontrollable, focus on what you can influence - maintaining balance in your portfolio, adding to your investments on a regular schedule, and staying focused on the future.  

Still feeling uncertain? Call 855-PNC-INVEST and talk to a PNC Investments Financial Advisor for a broader, fact-based perspective on your investments. We can help you develop a customized financial plan and stay on track towards achieving your long-term financial goals.