We are all living through one of the most extraordinary events in modern times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting life more than we could have imagined. Throughout the world, businesses and borders are closing and everyday life as we know it is being altered in ways never before considered.
People from all walks of life are being forced to work remotely, while many others can’t work at all. While we are being disrupted and impacted by social distancing and this temporary unrest, we sincerely hope that you and your family remain safe and healthy during this challenging time. I wanted to reach out and share our thoughts about our current situation. Our concerns extend well beyond financial matters, but as your financial advisory firm, we want to keep you well-informed about our views and what we recommend.
There is no doubt that the impact to our economy will be significant, at least for the next several months, and we should prepare for a steady stream of negative economic and health-related news that will exacerbate existing fears. The news will continue to highlight the number of new daily virus-related cases and deaths around the world. Although this combination of economic uncertainty and health-related fear is new, the ultimate outcome will most likely be the same as in past crises. After the downturn, we will experience a recovering economy with stock markets leading the way.
Our team at Heritage is committed to maintaining close contact with you as we navigate these trying times together. Here’s our perspective to help you weather the storm successfully:
1. We have experienced other crises before. As in every crisis, the markets undergo a dramatic correction. Catalysts vary, but the market reaction is the same. Fear overtakes rational behavior and the markets overreact into a deluge of selling. During my career, I have witnessed several bear markets and in each instance, the decline turned into widespread panic and fear. But most importantly, in each and every case, markets did recover and rose to new heights. Just last month, the stock market set an all-time high and now four weeks later, we’re down about 30 percent from the top. We assume the next few months will most likely be a bumpy ride for investors, but markets will recover with time.
2. Stay disciplined. While everyone’s financial situation is different and unique, we firmly believe that the best strategy is to stay the course. This advice might seem over used, but it remains a timeless principle and a fundamental tenet to successful investing. When markets decline, our innate response is to take some level of action despite a litany of evidence proving that trying to time the market is a fool’s game. In my almost 30 years as an advisor, I have yet to meet a single asset manager who has done this successfully over time—despite the many who have tried. Discipline is absolutely paramount, and those that stick with their plan are eventually rewarded.
3. Quality and diversification matters. Sound investment strategies will survive and eventually prosper. At Heritage, we do not invest in speculative strategies. We focus on building and managing high-quality diversified investment portfolios that we believe can endure market shocks. These include tilts towards value oriented, profitable companies. While we do not think that all public and private companies will overcome the current challenges, we do believe that entities with strong balance sheets, low leverage, and proven leaders demonstrating sound ethics will survive and thrive again.
4. We are here for you. Most importantly, we care about the well-being of our clients, staff, friends, and family. We understand the importance of balancing financial health with emotional and physical health, and we stand ready to discuss your current thinking and feelings. We will work hard to help you navigate through this difficult period and ask that you help us by sharing your concerns, hopes, and aspirations. We are proud to have a 34 person team of well credentialed and highly qualified staff and professionals looking out for your interests.
While current market challenges could last longer than any of us would like, we will eventually see this period of uncertainty through. However, if recent events have caused you to rethink your investment plan, please reach out to your wealth management team to discuss your options. But mostly, I hope that you will take this time to focus on caring for yourself, your family, friends, and community while we watch over the markets and your financial well-being. We are honored to be your advisor during this challenging time and appreciate our relationship very much.
Charles Bean III, CLU®, ChFC®
Founder & CEO