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In a volatile market, here are five issues to discuss with your adviser

Financial advisers should be calling clients to discuss investments.

Please tell me you've heard from your investment adviser this summer.

Summer's usually a dead spot in the investing calendar, but this year is a decided exception.

With the S&P/TSX composite index down a sizable 14 per cent for the 12 months to Sept. 4, advisers should be calling clients to discuss these five things:

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Your stress level

Early on, you should have had a thorough discussion with your adviser about the level of investing risk you're comfortable with. That was a conversation about abstracts. Now, we're seeing what a down market actually looks like. If you're stressed about your investments, tell your adviser and talk it through.

How much you're down

Forget about what this fund or that stock has done. You want an overall portfolio view for the year to date, and your numbers compared to an appropriate mix of stock and bond market benchmarks. Short-term numbers mean next to nothing about reaching your financial goals, but especially bad declines are like the "check engine" light going on in your car.

Your portfolio diversification

Good advisers have months like August foremost in their minds when they design portfolios for clients. So, if you mention how bad the stock markets have been, they should be able to show you what's working in your portfolio to cushion the fall. Prepare for some "I told you so" comments about holding a significant weighting in bonds. You may have complained about the low yields, but there's no getting around the fact that bonds are a hedge against falling stocks.

Opportunities in the market

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If you're investing for long-term growth, the recent market decline is an opportunity to buy low. Your adviser will probably suggest this, and have some ideas on what to buy.

Your investment income

If you're an income investor with significant holdings in energy stocks, your adviser should address whether dividend cuts in the sector have affected you. If you own preferred shares, you should have heard from your adviser about the troubles in the sector this year. Prices have fallen hard in many cases, but dividends keep flowing.

For more personal finance coverage, follow Rob Carrick on Twitter (@rcarrick) and Facebook (robcarrickfinance).

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