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Financial Planning

Virtual Office Hours

Virtual Office Hours

We are excited to announce that beginning September 1st, our partners at Skylight Financial will be offering Virtual Office Hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10pm and 12pm. Choose between a 15, 30, or 45 minute session with a CFCU Skylight team member. 

Click here to schedule your virtual appointment today!

Bear Vs. Bull: What’s the Difference?

A word from Skylight….

On March 11, 2020, news organizations ran a story about a notable passing. It served as the main business story for just about every financially oriented newspaper, news program, and news website in the United States. The bull market’s historic 11-year run, beginning in the wake of the housing crisis of 2008-2009, had come to a close.1,2

Yet, to many Americans, the “bull market” and its counterpart, the “bear market,” may represent abstract ideas that don’t relate to their day-to-day lives. There are also some misconceptions that people might carry about what exactly defines a “bull” or “bear.”

Let’s take a closer look at these terms, what they mean, and how they can help us understand the financial markets. Keep in mind that investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. And investments, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

What do these phrases mean?

A bull market describes a period of time when stock prices are trending higher. Often, but not always, the economy is expanding, and employment is strong.3

In contrast, a bear market is defined by a decline of 20% or more from a peak price in one or more of the major stock indices. A bear market can indicate the economy may be entering a downtrend, and a slowdown in employment may be anticipated.3

Bear markets shouldn’t be confused with other declines, which might be described as “pullbacks” or “corrections.” Typically, a period of consolidation occurs a number of times during a bull market.3

How long do these market types usually last?

There isn’t a standard duration for a bull or bear market. These terms are used as a way to describe the behavior of the market, so the length of each depends on the actions of those interacting with the market (e.g., the investors) as well as how those investors are reacting to current events, economic factors, or simply the world around them. Sometimes, there’s a very obvious cause for a bull market to go “bearish” or vice versa. It’s fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy have had a direct impact on the end of the recent bull market. There are shorter bull markets, of course, like the one that began in October 1966 and lasted just two years and two months.5

Bear markets can be similarly diverse in length. The Standard and Poor’s Index, in its various iterations, has had 20 bear markets since 1928, ranging from 33 days in 2020 to 929 days from early 2000 to late 2002—the latter, a period often referred to as the “Dot-Com Bubble Burst.”6,7

The S&P 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general and cannot be invested into directly. Often, but not always, market watchers are referring to the S&P 500 when they are describing the market’s bull or bear market trend. Remember, past performance does not guarantee future results.

How should you respond to a bull or bear market? If you’re reading this, you’re hopefully bringing your wishes and concerns to your financial professional, who can explain how your investment strategy is reacting to the markets. The idea of cultivating a financial strategy means taking such chutes and ladders in your stride.

What your financial professional knows is that, yes, the news can be provocative, and some events may present opportunities for investors. They also understand that ups and downs have historically been part of the investing process and may sometimes require no action. If you invest long enough, you may experience any number of bulls-to-bears and back again.

This may not be a very exciting answer, but it informs many financial strategies. The trust relationship you have with your financial professional means that they have taken the time to understand your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon to create an investment strategy that fits your unique circumstances.

What to consider during a bull market

Since a bull market indicates that stock prices are trending upward, you will, in many cases, not be taking much action at all. That’s where the informed suggestions from your financial professional come into play.

What to consider during a bear market

Bear markets might make you a little more nervous. Your first question to your financial professional might be, “should we take any action?” When it comes to an investor’s financial goals, bear markets often cause them to reconsider their tolerance for risk when measured against a time horizon they may have had in mind.

There is always the risk that unforeseen events are around the corner, which could cause markets to go bull or bear. But by working with a financial professional, you may be better prepared to weather the market’s cycles while still pursuing your investment goals.

Contact Skylight today by calling 216.592.7315, emailing, or visiting

Adapted from Platinum Advisor Strategies

Investment Products and Services offered are: Not a bank or credit union deposit or obligation; Not FDIC or NCUA insured; Not insured by and federal government agency; Not guaranteed by any bank or credit union; and may go down in value.

Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. OSJ: 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680. CRN202209-271261..

Century Federal Credit Union is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, or its affiliated companies., March 11, 2020, March 11, 2020, March 23, 2020, April 23, 2019

6Yardeni Research, Inc., March 23, 2020, August 29, 2018. Standard and Poor’s introduced the S&P 500 Index in March 1957. The S&P 90 stock index was introduced in 1928.

The power of perspective in turbulent times

News of market volatility can be scary, and many people react by moving their savings into less risky investments – or by pulling out of the market entirely. Don’t forget that when you move money out of an investment, you’re selling shares. By selling shares when prices are down, or “selling low,” you may miss out on the opportunity to recover in the future. If, however, you leave that money invested, you can benefit if the price of the fund ultimately goes up. 

Ripped from today's headlines?

Sensational headlines have often motivated investors to sell off, but historically speaking, bear markets have typically been followed by bull markets. The above headlines1 date from 1974, 1979 and 1987, respectively, and the panic they reflect (and possibly contributed to) was followed by a market recovery every time. People typically react to down markets by selling low, but experienced investors often use bear markets as an opportunity to buy low, because when prices are down, they can buy many more shares of an investment than they can during a recovery, when prices rise again. Remember that headlines are a product of a short-term news cycle, and can be as irrational and shortsighted as short-term market fluctuations.

Take a deep breath

Changing your investments can be a great idea, as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons. For example, gradually shifting your investment mix from more aggressive to more conservative as you approach retirement; or rebalancing your portfolio on a regular schedule, are both reasonable approaches to long-term investing. Moving all of your money from equities to cash during a market panic is less so, and could lock in losses that you may never recover. When markets are volatile, it can be easy to discard your strategy and follow the herd. Before you decide to initiate any significant transaction in your retirement account, don’t act on impulse. Make sure to put your long-term savings strategy ahead of any short-term fears.

Understanding is key

It’s important to understand how your investments impact your retirement savings.  And if you don’t want to go it alone, talk to a trusted financial professional for help with creating a holistic investment strategy.

For individual guidance and advice, contact your financial professional. Don't have one? Click here to meet our team!

Mass Mutual

New Year, New Plan.

It's that time of year again - time to think about what's on your financial bucket list and work on putting a plan in place. Have you thought about your IRA contributions? Did you know that you have until April to make tax deductible contributions to your IRA? What other financial tips could impact your 2020 planning?

Whether your retirement is just around the corner or years away, ensuring your preparations are in order can be the centerpiece of an effective retirement strategy.

It’s important to first understand the principle of cash flow. Cash flow is the net amount of cash moving into and out of your accounts at any given time. The key word here is “time.” Cash flow can be best understood through the lens of a given time frame.

Keeping a close eye on your cash flow may provide you with a better understanding of your financial flexibility. The biggest balancing act retirees face is “money in” versus “money out.” Knowing this metric is central to building a strong retirement strategy.

There are 4 main types of cash flow to consider when creating a retirement strategy: the interest your accounts accrue, the dividends you may receive, the capital gains you may receive from the sale of an investment or property, and finally your original investment.

Step 1: Identify Your Retirement Vehicles

If you’ve been saving and contributing to your retirement funds over the years, way to go! You may find it a helpful first step to identify and evaluate the strength of your savings from those years. Gathering this information can take a bit of effort, but it’s an important undertaking. The list below is a good place to start.

There are 4 general sources of retirement income in retirement: Social Security, Personal Savings and Investments, Retirement Accounts, & Continued Employment.

Step 2: Estimate Your Costs

With your income sources in mind, it’s time to think about expenses. Knowing how much you expect to spend in retirement is crucial to establishing a strategy that works for you.

First, take a look at your current annual income. In general, retirees spend about 80% of their current income per year in retirement, so if your estimated pre-retirement income is a hypothetical $100,000 a year, you can plan on spending about $80,000 annually in retirement1.

Next, consider the factors that will come into play once you retire. Things like changes in your lifestyle. Will you travel more? Take up new hobbies that require extra funds? Remember to factor in your anticipated medical care costs.

Step 3: Time for Some Math

Now, you’re going to compare your estimated costs against your scheduled retirement disbursements. At this point, you may come to the realization that your cash flow is less than your anticipated retirement costs. While it can be unsettling, this is valuable information that you can use to modify your strategy, with the help of your adviser. As always, we are available to help or answer any questions you may have.

Together, we can work toward a cash flow strategy that can last well into retirement and beyond.

Contact Skylight today by calling 216.592.7315 or emailing

Adapted from Platinum Advisor Strategies

Investments are not NCUA insured. Not credit union guaranteed. May lose value. Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. OSJ: 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680. CRN202109-253693.

Century Federal Credit Union is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, or its affiliated companies., 2019

Products and services offered are: Not insured by the National Credit Union Administration ("NCUA") or any other Government Agency; Not credit union deposits or other obligations of or guaranteed by the credit union; Are subject to investment risks, including the possible loss of principal amount invested. 

© 2020 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. All rights reserved. CRN202012-240508  

IRA products provided by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).