Markets In Action

What Do Investors Need to Hear from White House Hopefuls?

With 13 months until the election and with both Republican and Democratic candidates gathering to debate, it’s not too early to think about the issues the next president will face.

So what do we want to hear from the candidates, regardless of party, about the issues that affect our family’s bottom line?

Candidates on both sides of the aisle have begun staking out positions on issues like financial and banking regulations, which are important for industry and consumers alike. But where do the candidates stand on the economic and financial issues that impact investors more directly?

Here’s a closer look at some key priorities we’ll be watching in the coming campaign-and that we’d like to hear the candidates on both side of the fence address with greater detail and clarity.

Building economic momentum through jobs and capital formation

  • What will the candidates do to get the U.S. economy firing on all cylinders again?

It’s the economy, stupid.” Bill Clinton’s famous 1992 campaign tagline remains a critical reminder of the economy’s importance as a political issue.

Candidates forget that lesson at their own peril. According to a May survey by Gallup, the economy is far and away the top concern for voters-a stunning 86% of Americans ranked the economy as “extremely important” or “very important” when it comes to choosing who they’ll vote for.

Why? Because while the U.S. economy has made significant strides since the recession’s end in 2009, the recovery has been slow and halting-and plenty of Americans still feel vulnerable.

Moreover, we know sooner or later, another recession will strike. So Americans want to know the next president has a plan for how they’ll keep the engine of the U.S economy running.

Preserving the strength of the markets

  • How will the next president work with financial industry to keep the markets functioning smoothly, reliably and efficiently for the sake of all investors? If there’s a market correction, what will he or she do when the public and the media are clamoring for a response?

Recent market events, including recent volatility in stocks and economic unrest around the world, have put some investors on edge.

Meanwhile, with the Federal Reserve likely preparing to launch an interest rate increase soon, investors are carefully watching to see what effect those hikes will have on markets and the broader economy.

Investors want to know that the next president is thinking hard about the importance of the capital markets to the overall economy-and that he or she has a strong plan for working with the financial industry to keep the markets humming.

Ensuring retirement security

  • What are the candidates’ proposals to strengthen retirement security by promoting higher levels of saving so that more Americans can build more wealth?
  • How will the candidates’ positions on capital gains taxation and other investment issues affect the average investor?

While the last several years have been good for retirement savers who are invested in a diversified portfolio including a combination of stocks and mutual funds, the August market correction raised a red flag for many investors, who want to be reassured their retirement will be protected.

Regardless of where you are in your investing career, pay careful attention to how the candidates’ plans would affect your long-term plans.

Strengthening public and private cyber defenses

  • What will the candidates do to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses and make data security a priority?

Data breaches put your personal information at risk, compromising privacy and potentially making us all targets for identity thieves. Recently, virtually every sector of the economy has been targeted by hackers: government agencies, financial institutions, media companies, colleges and universities, health care providers and more.

Many of the targeted industries have moved quickly to respond to the heightened threat. For example, the financial industry has taken a number of steps to strengthen cyber defenses, pushing for improved information sharing, establishing stronger voluntary standards and staging simulated cyber attacks to assess existing defenses.

But the reality is that the threat from hackers is evolving and growing more sophisticated-which means a more comprehensive government response is needed. It’s an issue the candidates need to be prepared to address.

Why tune in now?

Let’s face facts-what’s happening in the fall of 2015 probably won’t be what people are focusing on in the fall of 2016.

So why pay attention now? Because, as Sean Williams of investing site The Motley Fool notes, the change of administration will invariably bring some alteration in economic policy, and investors should pay attention.

“Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” Williams writes. “But it will behoove the American public and all investors to watch this election carefully and understand what new policies may be on the horizon that could affect their pocketbooks and investment and retirement accounts.”

For most of us, the state of the economy, and how it affects us and our families, will be among the top issues we think about when we vote. So the sooner the candidates start speaking to voters about their economic plans, the better off we’ll all be.