"Markets are going to swing like crazy as we get geared up for the fiscal cliff," said Gene Goldman, director of research at Cetera, a family of broker-dealer/registered investment advisors.
"We don't think the fiscal cliff will be solved. We think what's most likely going to happen is it will be pushed out," Goldman said of the looming deadlines. "There will be some kind of compromise, some type of settling, and it will be basically kicked down the road to sometime next year."
The November presidential election, however, could spark a stock market rally as a certain outcome gives investors confidence and temporarily lifts the markets, according to new research from Cetera. But what follows the November election will likely be a higher level of volatility than the markets have experienced this year, according to Cetera, while the S&P 500 currently up 18% in 2012.
"So far this year, volatility has been subdued, which is remarkable in a world with so much potential for a surprisingly poor outcome in Europe, rising geopolitical risks in the Middle East (including Iran), and a presidential election in the U.S.," Cetera's latest market commentary, dated Oct. 2, states.
But the November election and the focus on the fiscal cliff that follows it, will likely usher in more volatility, according to Cetera. Because of that, the firm is recommending certain investments to help shield investors from those upcoming market fluctuations.
In equities, Cetera is focusing on domestic stocks over foreign stocks, growth stocks instead of value stocks and large-cap stocks over small- and mid-cap stocks. The firm is also targeting fund managers that are leaning more towards dividend and fundamental focuses.
With fixed income, Cetera is emphasizing bonds with lower duration over those that are more reactive to interest rates, and is also overweight spread product over Treasuries.
Cetera is also focusing on other alternative investment areas including global real estate investment trusts, commodities and global macros absolute return and market neutral funds.
When it comes to the election, a win for Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney could usher in less regulation, particularly when it comes to financials and energy, reduce the chances that the Bush-era tax cuts would be eliminated or reduced, and could bode well for other sectors like consumer staples or areas with high dividend yields.
If President Barack Obama were to take a second term, there could be more emphasis on renewable energy, benefits to homebuilders as policies aimed at troubled homeowners are kept in place, and a boost to health care insurers as the new health care legislation is rolled out.
"Regardless of who wins, Republicans or Democrats, or if we have a Republican control or Democrat control, we do see a lot of market volatility," Goldman said. "What we're trying to do with our portfolios today is knock out of a lot of negative tails and have a smoother ride for investors."
For more on what Cetera sees for specific sectors following the election, visit this slideshow.