How to handle Greek debt in your portfolio

How will the Greek debt crisis impact American investments?

Steve Chiotakis: The stock market -- of course -- just one example of how reaction to a Greek debt deal can affect your investments.

All this week, we're helping you understand why Greece is such a threat to the global economy and why you should care.

John Spoto heads up the Sentry Financial Planning firm in Massachusetts, and he's with us right now. Hey John.

John Spoto: Hi Steve.

Chiotakis: What kinds of questions are your clients asking you about what's going on in Greece?

Spoto: Right now, their biggest concern -- as you might expect -- is the effect that all of this is having on their investment portfolio, which you know includes obviously their retirement plans. And the big concern is, 'Am I going to be OK? Will I be able to retire as planned? Will I be able to count on the money being there to help my child pay for college?'

Chiotakis: And what are you telling them, John?

Spoto: These kinds of financial crises have occurred in the past. We've gotten through them. They will occur again in the future. And it is simply the price that we pay for investing and trying to earn better returns from the financial markets, specifically the stock market.

Chiotakis: But no doubt this stuff can be really scary, right, for people who have so much invested in their retirement or education savings plans?

Spoto: Exactly. Understandably, it is. But the alternative of making short-term, rash and let's say emotional decisions has just not proven to be an effective or profitable strategy.

Chiotakis: How does a financial planner such as yourself, John, access risks -- risks such as Greece -- in advance and shield your clients from it?

Spoto: The only sensible way is explaining in advance, while we're helping them construct their portfolios, just how bad things can really get, to brace them for it, and then determine whether they've got the emotional ability and the financial capacity to be able to weather these downturns.

If they're investing in stocks and they're doing so expecting a smooth ride, then they've really gotten into the market under false pretenses.

Chiotakis: John Spoto, founder of Century Financial Planning. John, thank you so much.

Spoto: My pleasure, Steve.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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