The traditional wisdom on Wall Street is to make wise investments and hold them for the long term. Most of those same advocates would claim that 10 years is generally considered long term. For those who did buy and hold for the first decade of this millennium, the results weren't too rewarding.

The traditional wisdom on Wall Street is to make wise investments and hold them for the long term. Most of those same advocates would claim that 10 years is generally considered long term. For those who did buy and hold for the first decade of this millennium, the results weren't too rewarding.


Sure there were periods where stocks rallied and showed significant positive strength. But there were also protracted periods where the values of many investments plummeted and have yet to recover.  Some investors are so spooked by the last decade of ups and downs that they are deciding to avoid market risk entirely.


But time marches on, and is not recoverable, so every decade is very important to your asset accumulation plan. To that end, there may be a few options for those wondering what to do.


The first option is to avoid all risk. While this may sound appealing - check your financial plan first. If your plan suggests that you need to earn 7 percent on your investments to reach your goals and objectives, something else has to change. The possibilities for change include spending less, saving more or working longer into what you thought would be your retirement years. The reason, quite simply, is that there are no low-risk investments out there today that will earn 7 percent.


Another option is to try some investment strategies other than buy and hold. Traditional market wisdom has always told us that timing markets is a loser's game. And I agree that no one has a crystal ball clear enough to time the ups and downs of Wall Street. But then why is it that we always read about firms or individuals who seem to have success at avoiding some or much of market downturns? The answer is they are market tacticians - and none of them can guarantee that they'll always choose the right tactic. They will win some and lose some, but their goal is to avoid enough of the downturns.


Tacticians frequently make their decisions  based on moving averages. A moving average is a statistical calculation that attempts to even out short-term fluctuations to highlight longer-term trends. When that calculation indicates a positive trend, tactical investors are looking to be invested. When the trend points downward, they are looking to avoid risk.


You owe it to yourself to explore your options so the next 10 years do not create back-to-back lost decades for your nest egg. 


John P. Napolitano is the CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass. He may be reached at jnap@uswealthcompanies.com.