Investment Perspectives

by | Feb 4, 2022 | Articles

Invest at Market Highs? Time is the Great Equalizer

When is the best time to put new money to work in the markets? After equity markets reached new highs throughout 2021, some investors may feel hesitant. However, a recent Forbes article attempted to debunk the belief that investing at market highs is likely to lead to lower returns. Using historical S&P 500 Index data, it suggests that the returns for investing at all-time highs have been close to the average (chart 1). Of course, we should never discount the opportunity to invest at lower prices: lower valuations, higher dividend yields and better price points can help to enhance overall wealth. This is why many investors embrace market corrections when they occur. 

For investors concerned about buying at highs and then seeing a decline, it’s worth repeating that history tends to favour long-term investors. The likelihood of negative returns reduces significantly as a holding period increases (chart 2). Time is the great equalizer 

2022 TFSA Dollar Limit: $6,000, bringing the total eligible lifetime contribution amount to $81,500. Do you have TFSA contribution room sitting idle? 

Systematic investing programs can also help to take emotion out of the investing decision. After all, being invested can be one of the best ways to generate wealth over the longer-term. 

Chart 1: Average Annual Returns in S&P 500 Index, 1988 to 2020 

Chart 2: % of Positive Returns, Diversified Portfolio 1980 to 2020

Sources: Based on 20% S&P/TSX Composite Index, 20% S&P 500 Index, 20% MSCI EAFE Index, 40% FTSE Canada Universe Bond Index. Rolling periods from Dec. 1979 to Dec. 2020. 

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Dave Cooper, CFP®, CIM®
Senior Investment Advisor Portfolio Manager
[email protected]

Tyler Cockbain, BA, CFP®, CIM®
Senior Investment Advisor Portfolio Manager
[email protected]


Justin Nekechuk, B. Ed
Associate Investment Advisor
[email protected]

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The information contained herein has been provided for information purposes only. Graphs, charts and other numbers are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information has been provided by J. Hirasawa & Associates and is drawn from sources believed to be reliable.

The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. This does not constitute a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell securities of any kind. Market conditions may change which may impact the information contained in this document. Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. (WAPW) and the authors do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, nor does WAPW, nor the authors, assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Before acting on any of the above, please contact me for individual financial advice based on your personal circumstances. WAPW is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.