The opportunity of COVID-19
By Terry Tadlock
Terry Tadlock (CIC, CPCU, CRIS) is president of Correll Insurance
Opportunity is often discovered through adversity. No one expected to live through what we have the past several weeks. The insurance industry is no exception. We have challenges and continue to look for ways to better serve our staff, clients and community. COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct our lives and without doubt has tremendously affected our economy. Our heart breaks for those who have experienced loss. But we are also encouraged about the positivity our community is displaying. We will get through this, and when we do, we will be stronger.
Be encouraged to resist getting caught up in the negativity. Instead, look for opportunity to reach out and help others by looking for innovative ideas and solutions for the future. Being part of an incredible rebuild will be exciting. Stay positive and believe things are going to be better than ever. Let’s get started together!
Four ways to invest more confidently in a volatile market
When financial markets fluctuate, even the calmest investors can start to question their financial strategies. But volatile markets can present opportunities, says Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute (WFII).
“Financial markets are frequently volatile—that’s their nature,” she says. “Over longer periods of time, that volatility can add up to attractive portfolio growth.”
McMillion shares an analogy that compares this worry to seasickness: “If you stare at the waves directly ahead of you (the current financial market), the water may look bumpy and turbulent, and you might feel ill at ease. However, if you look outward at the horizon (your long-term investment goals), the ocean as a whole appears to be on a fairly even keel.”
In addition to focusing on your financial horizon, here are some strategies you can use to help weather economically turbulent times.
1. Match your investments to your time horizon. The simplest way to feel more comfortable about your investments is to align them with your financial calendar, no matter what happens in the financial world this month or year. For example, do you need some of your money fairly soon, or want it close at hand in case of an emergency? If so, McMillion says you should consider investments such as cash holdings and short-term bonds that shouldn’t lose much, if any, value over the short term. On the other hand, if you won’t need some of your investment money until you retire multiple years in the future, equities or longer-term bonds are worth a closer look. Those investments carry more risks but also offer potentially better returns.
2. Know what to expect from your assets. Some investors lose confidence because they don’t fully understand how their investments work. In that case, McMillion says, some knowledge of typical asset behavior is a good thing. Consider reading up on different types of investments and asking questions of your financial advisor. Once you know how your investments are more likely to perform in certain financial markets, you can help ensure that your investment strategy is in line with your tolerance for risk.
3. Tune out the noise. By “noise” McMillion means the constant barrage of financial reports from the 24/7 news media. “It’s common for the financial markets to temporarily get a little bit messy as they sort through the current news cycle,” she says. However, investors usually don’t need to react to the everyday financial news, no matter how topsy-turvy things may seem. “Remember: The U.S. news tends to report on a very small slice of available investments, particularly U.S. large company stocks,” she says. “Your portfolio, if it’s diversified as it should be, probably isn’t going up and down to the same degree as these stocks. Your portfolio changes are probably much more moderate.”
4. Regularly revisit your plan. There’s no such thing as a completely set-it-and-forget-it investment strategy, McMillion says. It’s always smart to check in regularly with your investment advisor. “Your life circumstances may change, or your financial goals could shift,” she says. “You’ll feel much more confident that your investments are doing their job if you review them regularly with your advisor.”
Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Inc. is a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
This advertisement was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided to you by Gary T. Bezilla, MBA, Private Wealth Financial Advisor, Managing Director – Investment Officer, Senior PIM Portfolio Manager, in Hilton Head Island, SC 29926, 843 681 1400 / 866 570 4043.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
© 2019 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. CAR-0420 00514
Take the long view
By John Chiacchiero
John Chiacchiero is a managing director and partner of Oak Advisors in Bluffton.
As a long term investor, it is critically important to maintain focus on long-term financial goals and objectives. As hard as it may be from an investment perspective, we need to look through the current environment of fear and concern – emotions which, given the circumstances, are totally justified and felt by all of us – to the almost certain outcome of the virus receding and economic recovery occurring.
Trying to time market tops and bottoms is impossible. The evidence is overwhelming that most investors diminish their long-term returns trying to do so. They are more likely to chase the market up and down, and get whipsawed, buying high and selling low. But incrementally adjusting portfolio allocations in a patient and disciplined fashion in response to changing asset class expected returns and risks does make sense for long-term investors.
The time to be adding stocks and other long-term growth assets is when prices are low and markets – and most of us personally – are gripped by fear and uncertainty rather than complacency, optimism, or greed. Investing in such times will feel very uncomfortable. It may seem like the market could just keep dropping with no bottom in sight. But that is exactly where research, analysis, patience, experience, and having a disciplined investment process come into play.
Trying to time market tops and bottoms is impossible.”
Otherwise, if we invest based on our feelings and emotions, we are very likely to cash out of the market after it has already dropped a lot, locking in those losses. Then, waiting to reinvest after our discomfort and worry are gone, the market will already be much higher. That is not a recipe for long-term investment success.
Facing the current medical and economic crisis, the situation is probably likely to get worse before it gets better (we would love to be wrong on that). But, with some necessary and shared sacrifices from all of us – and clearly those on the medical front lines much more than most – it will get better.
We will get through this crisis period. Things will improve and recover. This too shall pass. Stay the course.
Don’t fight the Fed
By Thomas G. Fox
Thomas G. Fox is a consultant for Hilton Head Capital Partners and the founder and managing partner of WaterStreet Research Partners.
The Federal Reserve has our back. The Fed recently released a plan to put $2.7 trillion to work across a variety of programs that included the buying of riskier assets including junk bonds and consumer loans. So, if you needed proof that you shouldn’t “fight the Fed,” Jerome Powell recently used a longblade to chop off the left tail of the risk/return curve. The Fed made it completely clear that they are going to do everything possible to keep companies in business, employees in their jobs and consumers in their homes, cars and credit cards. They are even reaching into the Muni market to keep broken cities and states floating. This is big and it will come with a cost, but right now, we need to save Captain America. Payback will come later.
Focus on the future: The focus for investors should be on the 2021 and 2022 earnings recoveries and how much one wants to pay for those earnings streams and business models in the future. With the Fed at our back and a future recovery ahead, it makes perfect sense that value, small cap performed so well last week. Both areas of the market had been bottom performing and at risk of a continued economic slowdown. While the mega cap growth names will also enjoy a post COVID-19 recovery, their stocks will not see the upside potential that will be available in other areas of the market (from 361 Capital Commentary).
Institutional investors: Defense was warranted prior to the crash. Now institutional investors are moving to a neutral or bullish position and no longer see it necessary to be defensive. Risks are now more understood.
Final thoughts: What to do with our cash position? Dollar cost average in? Any disappointment in restarting economy will be met with more downside — perhaps to the S&P Index 2,500 to 2,600 level. My potential low has moved higher — from 2,100 (worst case) to 2,500 to 2,600 now (S&P 500). We recommended on Feb. 24 raising cash at approximately 3,240 on the S&P 500 for both of our portfolios.
3 pieces of advice for these uncertain times
By Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is the founder and managing director of Polaris Capital Advisors.
COVID-19 has hit our wallets in many ways and created a variety of financial challenges on extreme ends of the spectrum — from loss of income to declining IRA balances to fear of losing health benefits. As a result, the financial impact of this pandemic is highly personal, and how you respond depends on your overall financial picture. While generalized financial advice is impossible at this point, below are my top three recommendations for managing through these difficult and uncertain times:
1. Triage. If you have lost your job or have reduced income, you are likely in triage mode – meaning you need to take immediate steps to maintain your basic needs, assess your options, and take action. If you are eligible for unemployment benefits or the new SBA loan programs, apply now. Assess your new (hopefully temporary) normal income, and make cuts to your expenses where possible. If you still find yourself in the red, contact your creditors to request a forebearance or modification to give yourself time to recover from this upheaval.
2. Stick with your plan. While no one truly anticipates these Black Swan events, they are exactly what financial plans are intended to address. If you have a comprehensive financial plan in place, i.e. have set aside rainy day funds and have invested according to your true risk tolerance, it is more important that ever to stick to that plan.
3. Do not make emotional decisions during a bad market. The time to make changes is when the markets are strong, when you can make less emotional decisions from a position of strength, not fear. Assess changes you might want to make on the other side of this pandemic. This might mean seeking opportunities for learning new skills, re-evaluating how you spend your money (i.e. prioritizing debt repayment over discretionary spending), or re-assessing your risk tolerance and/or retirement timeline.
Focus on what you can do
By Catherine West Olivetti
Catherine West Olivetti is the Managing Partner of Olivetti, McCray & Withrow, LLC
Across the nation, there has been an uptick in inquiries about estate planning. The reason is, unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic. Many clients feel a sense of urgency to get their wills and health care directives established or updated. People are uncomfortable with uncertainty. As a way to ease their fears of the unknown, they tend to focus on what they can control. For many, that means organizing their estate planning and what we have come to know as “getting your affairs in order.”
Many people think that estate planning is merely preparing a will; however, estate planning encompasses much more. Optimally, you should consult with an estate planning attorney to review your overall objectives, your assets, liabilities, and concerns. We have successfully transitioned to video conferencing for our initial assessment. Based upon this consultation, your attorney can assist you with putting together a comprehensive plan. Documents can be prepared and sent via email for review and thereafter finalized. Executing documents requires a few additional precautionary steps. We have developed creative ways to keep this process timely yet safe for everyone involved.
Many clients feel a sense of urgency to get their wills and health care directives established or updated.”
While there has been discussion in the South Carolina legislature to ease the signing requirements on at least a temporary basis, no laws have been changed as of this writing. As the coronavirus will likely continue to limit social interaction for many, especially older members of the community, it is quite possible that estate planning will continue to be handled this way for clients in the most vulnerable populations.
Regardless of where you are in the estate planning process, we want you to know that this is still a good time to move forward. One thing that you can do today is to organize a list of your accounts, along with usernames and passwords. As digital acumen progresses, documentation and organization of financial information becomes more important. It is imperative to let loved ones know where accounts are held and how to access those accounts. While keeping a list of passwords on a sticky note attached to a computer may not be the best idea, keeping a list of usernames and passwords for accessing accounts is critical. After all, if a person is incapacitated, at a minimum, their agent acting under their power of attorney needs to be able to access bank accounts to pay bills and handle affairs. And this aspect of estate planning merely requires communication and transparency, something that is well within your control even during this period of uncertainty.
Insurance advice for employees and employers
By Missy Layman
Missy Layman is a partner of Kinghorn Insurance Agency.
As a result of the financial pressures of this pandemic on our local businesses, many of our friends and family members have been impacted by layoffs. Many have lost their health insurance at a time when it could be the most important insurance they need. Our concern for all affected by layoffs or furloughs in our community is that they get the right advice for the options to secure coverage. The critical issue is that because each individual has unique needs and circumstances, there may be several options available. Advice and counsel in evaluating these options is extremely important. These decisions can impact the quality of care and the cost of your medical needs. Kinghorn Insurance Agency has a specialized, dedicated Employee Benefits Division to assist both the employee and the employer with support, service, advice and affordable options for coverage.
Wisdom to the laid-off employee: Explore your options with trusted, accountable, experienced professionals. In this pandemic environment, experience, knowledge and trust are key factors to look for in your advisors. There are options, and some of these policies could cost you nothing. Yes, $0.
Encouragement to the employer: Put your employees in the hands of agents/brokers like myself who can specialize in assisting them with options that can involve both an expert in Employee Benefits and expertise in the individual arena. Employees need council on the continuation of coverage as well as the individual plan options. Don’t be afraid to also step back into benefit offerings quickly after employees return to work. There are creative approaches to get this done.
Call us for support and for options before you call the insurance company on your ID card for solutions. Ask yourself, “Who will be your best advocate in this situation?” We will.