How to invest ahead of the 2020 election, according to top advisors

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Whatever the outcome, the November presidential election promises to bring a period of uncertainty and volatility to the markets.

However, equities are still your best long-term bet, two experts said on Tuesday at the CNBC Financial Advisor Summit, a day-long virtual conference for financial advisors.

After hitting fresh highs even during the Covid-19 crisis, stocks have proved remarkably resilient, said Jeffrey Mills, the chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust.

“There could be some front-loaded selling but I do feel like that’s a near-term phenomenon,” he said.

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Overall, there is no alternative that offers a comparable return, Mills said.

“There is going to be this continued pull toward equity markets — where else are you going to go when you need to earn a certain percentage to fund retirement, fund education?”

When broken down by industry, infrastructure, renewable energy and technology will be among the big sector winners with a potential Joe Biden win, said Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas Securities.

At the same time, Biden could ease concerns about the trade war with China and lack of stimulus to bolster the economy in the wake of the coronavirus.

On the flipside, some investors fear a Biden win could lead to higher corporate taxes and tighter regulations.

However, the odds that Biden could push through tax increases without a Democratic-controlled Congress, are “as close to zero as you could possibly imagine,” Clifton said.

Alternatively, if President Donald Trump is reelected, there will be “huge upside” in industries such as defense, financials and even the for-profits, Clifton said, including prisons, education and student loan lenders.

In either case, “investors are going to have plenty of opportunities going into this election,” he added. 

Investors are going to have plenty of opportunities going into this election.

Daniel Clifton

head of policy research at Strategas Securities

More than a third, or 37%, of top-rated financial advisory firms said they believe the Democratic nominee will be elected as the next U.S. president, compared to 20% predicting Trump will come out ahead, according to a recent poll of firms on the 2020 CNBC FA 100 list.

Most also said that there will likely be no change in the congressional breakdown, predicting that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate and Democrats will retain control of the House.

Even if the election does lead to market swings, it’s not a reason to change your overall investment strategy, according to both advisors.

“Using the election as a specific catalyst to make investment decisions without the benefit of hindsight is really difficult,” said Mills.

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