A Few More Thoughts On Current Events

By: David Smyth, March 18, 2020

In thinking about what to say regarding recent events, well, I'm as perplexed as everyone - I had no idea we were surrounded by experts on pandemics and how they work. If you ever need more "expert" information, well, just turn on the TV!
 

In our business, this is always the time of year when we're wary of getting sick from those of you who come into our office with colds claiming they're just allergies. We always wipe down a few extra times during flu season. You may have noticed that a few of us here at Family Financial Partners were out sick recently. We have no idea what exact virus or cold we had, but our doctors told us to stay home, and we did. I had it worse because I do have asthma, and I practiced social distancing, washed my hands often, and stayed home to rest as much as possible - like I always do.

Now, however, like almost everyone else, we have moved this week to a remote model of work for the foreseeable future, and many of us have cancelled travel plans. I was looking forward to giving my sister a hug for the first time in years on my (now cancelled) trip to the UK. It can feel like the world is ending.

I agree and understand that we're all feeling the stress as our brains try to extrapolate exactly what all this chaos means. I do know from human psychology that when we are truly concerned - okay, scared - for our physical well-being and the well-being of those we love, it can change how we make decisions.

My thoughts about that are not just as a financial planner, but as a friend - I believe it's important to acknowledge that those emotions and feelings are real, and that there's nothing gained by using people as a punching bag to work out the frustrations of these uncertain times. And for me, I'm just upset all my gyms have closed!

When it comes to your investments, I don't need for anyone else to call me and tell me they don't want to lose anymore money. If you've worked with me since I started in this business in 1997, then you've been with me through 2001, and 2008, and 2010, and 2015, and 2018, and now 2020. In each one of those market events, I got numerous calls from folks saying, "Hey, I don't want to bug you, but I really don't want to lose anymore money." Please don't take this as flippant, but I know. I understand.

I want to reassure you all that, even as we are working from home these days, I am fully focused on what we can do to make sure your assets are managed as best as possible, and on a day-to-day basis, I'm doing everything I can to help you get through this even stronger than ever. Financially and otherwise. Calling me isn't going to elicit any special attention for your portfolio that it wasn't already getting.

That said, here's a reminder that we don't own the stock markets - we own individual companies, and prior to the market upheaval, we're periodically reviewing those companies to see what decisions they're making. COVID-19 is certainly a new challenge, but it's one that we're all facing. I've been thinking of that Warren Buffet quote - It's only when the tide goes out that you know who's been swimming naked.

We monitor every single company we're invested in, and if there's an area or a company where we don't like the leadership, we're making changes. As investors, we are invested in the leadership of all of the companies we own and patronize, whether they're publicly traded in the markets, or they're companies like us here at Family Financial Partners that you choose to do business with. I want to personally thank you on behalf of our entire team for continuing to trust us in this, the fifth major correction of my short 23 years in the business. And, although I can't predict or promise what will happen this time, I will tell you this: in every single one of those prior cases, no matter how awful or what caused the volatility, the economy came back strong, and America marched on. We just had to have patience. (Please remember that past performance is not indicative of future results.)

Now, keep in mind that this time, the markets are volatile because this is a biological crisis that has created a financial crisis. That's what's scary - there's no historical model we can look at. The world has no clue, so fear takes over. But from my perspective, some good will come out of this. We don't have to hear any political posturing for a while. This crisis has brought us together as a country as we try to figure it out and survive. My kids are excited that they don't have to go to school for a while and get in trouble for not doing their homework. But I truly believe that this too shall pass, and our country will move forward.

I don't plan to update you on every coronavirus development that happens in the coming weeks. We'll be practicing common sense and will follow what the CDC advises - hence the move to remote work this week. In the meantime, let's take the increased time at home to do some good. Spend some extra time with the kiddos, do some spring cleaning, or have that financial conversation you've been meaning to have with your spouse for a long, long time. In the meantime, let us know if there's anything we can do for you - from a safe social distance of course.

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