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Offered by T. Lloyd Worth, Worth Financial Partners

Recently we received the unprecedented news that the United Kingdom (U.K.) has voted to leave the European Union (EU), which had led to significant volatility in the global markets. In situations like these, it becomes more important than ever to remain calm, harness our emotions, and stay committed to our long-term plans.

On June 23, the United Kingdom undertook an all-country referendum about whether the U.K. should stay in or exit the EU, of which it has been a member since 1975. This vote, referred to as the “Brexit” vote, is done by allowing all citizens to cast their ballot on whether to “remain” or “leave.” In a very close vote, “leave” brought in 51.9%.

In the days immediately before the vote, the polls suggested a slight tilt that the U.K. would remain; and financial markets reacted positively, with stocks around the globe rising in value, along with most foreign currencies. That next morning overseas, as it became clear that, in fact, the U.K. had voted to leave, those recent gains were reversed and there were sharp declines in global equity markets, particularly in Europe and Japan. European currencies also weakened relative to the dollar. Essentially, the markets were expecting a “remain,” were surprised by a “leave,” and thus reacted negatively.

Though the questions surrounding exactly how and when the U.K. extrication from the EU will happen, it caused near-term financial turmoil, but the actual “leave” vote does not create an immediate change in the day-to-day functioning of the markets. Rather, it’s the beginning of a process that may take two years or more to fully execute.

However, as the market gets over the Brexit shock and answers start to come on other fronts, this turmoil should settle some. The global economic system is better prepared to deal with financial panics than it has been historically. Most global banks are in much better shape than they were leading up to the financial crisis in 2008, and central banks are prepared to extend credit to institutions and countries to help them manage short-term liquidity problems if they arise.

The United States is insulated, though not immune, from events overseas. Although there was a decline in U.S. stocks then, it was smaller than the declines in foreign markets. The U.S. economy and the U.S. stock market are built on a foundation of domestic consumption of goods and services. Our economy is impacted by events globally, but it is not dependent on them.

In times of financial market stress, we must remember our investments are for the long term. This is a time for caution, but not panic or overreaction. Although our emotions might be telling us to act, we must resist this urge and strive to maintain a patient, long-term focus on the future. Some volatility may persist in the short term, and although we do not know for certain what lies ahead for the markets, the best course of action is to face it with a steadfast commitment to let reason, not emotion, drive our investment plan.

Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

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