The last few years have not been kind to the average investor. For instance, the S & P 500 is down more than 30 percent, and the Nasdaq is down a whopping 69 percent since the markets high in March of 2000.
So, what is the small investor to do, and what does the future hold?
We asked John Portwood, chief investment strategist for Hancock Bank, for a few opinions. His advice to the average investor, stop worrying about short term volatility.
"Our focus is long term," Portwood said. "There is a lot of noise in the short term that can cloud your judgement and cloud your view of the future."
Anyone who invested heavily in the Nasdaq, which has many technology stocks, knows how painful the last few years have been. Portwood has some advice for those who may still be invested in the tech sector.
"I would suggest a bit more diversification, perhaps even taking losses and moving into better position."
Portwood is also quick to remind investors this is not the first time the stock market has tanked, and it won't be the last.
"I have often said that anybody over the age of 50, who has been in this business for a while, probably remembers the period from 68 to 74, which was very similar you had two recessions, two bear markets one was the worst since the 1930's," Portwood said.
Because the market can still be volatile, Portwood says the rule of thumb is the same today as it was years ago, diversify.