"2008 was as rugged as it gets," John Merrill told CNBC, but he quickly added that if investors adhered to a proper asset allocation, it was "a considerably better process."
So what's a proper asset allocation? A blend of growth assets for the long run, and risk-averse assets to survive a year like 2008.
In the year ahead, the founder and chief investment officer of Tanglewood Wealth Management plans to stay with quality in both stocks and bonds.
Merrill says "bonds" does not include Treasurys: "All the juice is out of that lemon," he said.
Instead, he recommends high-quality municipal bonds and investment-grade corporates. On the equities side, Merrill insists on "the bluest of blue chips," and suggests that funds are the best vehicle for investing in stocks.
One ETF that he recommends is Vanguard Dividend Appreciation.
"It owns 30, 35 of these very high-quality companies, companies like Walmart, IBM, Chevron, AT&T, companies like that," he said.
Disclosure information for John Merrill was not immediately available.