Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

 

Suspending all in-office meetings during the virus outbreak until further notice.

Given the rapid developments and precautions being taken in Arizona and nationwide, we are suspending all in-office appointments and will conduct all client meetings and reviews using online conferencing until further notice.

Activating our Business Continuity Plan protocols during the virus outbreak.

We have planned for this event type. We maintain a live, fully operational and redundant office on an entirely different power grid in Chandler, Arizona to back up our Scottsdale, Arizona headquarter office. In addition, we maintain multiple fully configured home worksites with completely redundant cybersecurity infrastructure mirrored to our headquarter office. All of our sites are supplied by multiple channels of internet connectivity. We are currently maintaining appropriate levels of in-office staff and our remaining employees are working from home using our secure cloud-based technology stack until further notice. All of us can be reached at our published telephone and fax numbers.

Elevating your cybersecurity awareness during the virus outbreak.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued some commonsense warning:

On March 6, 2020 the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an alert reminding individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

CISA encourages individuals to remain vigilant and take the following precautions:

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.

See Using Caution with Email Attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.

  • Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
  • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.

Review CISA Insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information.

Information resources for the virus outbreak.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reminders and insights during the virus outbreak.

Patience and discipline are in order

As with all significant declines, various forms of damage are simultaneously occurring (various real economy and market dislocations, knock-on effects . . . financial, emotional and psychological) and it takes time to work through the dislocations and repairs to build a new base from which the market can eventually move higher. At some point we will see a rebound, but rebounds can be choppy as the new base builds, retesting the lows as the market builds a new base.

Time will tell how these events will play out, but the timing of a rebound shouldn’t really matter for the disciplined long-term investor who has a financial plan and a well-constructed and diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds that matches the plan.

The Value of the Long View

When building wealth for the long term, our goal is time in the market ‒ not timing the market. This view represents the difference between being a long-term owner and a short-term renter (of stocks). If you can only take one investing axiom to heart, this might be the one.

Moving in and out of the market ‒ as many may have experienced ‒ can be a reactive and emotionally nerve-racking approach. When opportunity seems to beckon, many market participants jump off the sidelines and move their cash into the market in hot pursuit. Similarly, when the market is volatile, falling or otherwise scary, many of the same market participants flee, selling their investments and moving their cash back to the sidelines.

There are many risks of moving in and out of the market instead of staying put . . . selling low what was previously bought high, compounding that mistake multiple times, identifying the right company to invest in and getting the timing wrong, missing the opportunity to reinvest dividends and accelerate the compounding of returns, reducing returns with high trading costs, creating unnecessary taxable events . . . the list goes on.

By contrast, we believe that patiently remaining invested in the market over time ‒ through the inevitable ups and downs of stock price swings ‒ may be far more profitable than attempting to time the market. This can be hard for investors to accept, but the preponderance of evidence supports the likely greater value of taking the long view.

Studies of historical S&P 500 returns since 1928 have shown that the longer you’re in the market, the less likely you are to lose money. After one year, the probability of loss decreases markedly ‒ and the probability continues to fall over the subsequent several years of staying invested.

Another reason to remain invested for the long haul: stock market returns are lumpy ‒ they come from a mix of shorter periods of both rising and falling prices ‒ and it’s impossible to predict precisely when those periods will occur. Take a look at these successive five-year compound annual rates of return for the SPDR® S&P 500® ETF with dividends reinvested:

May 31, 1995 ‒ May 31, 2000   23.5%
May 31, 2000 ‒ May 31, 2005   -2.0%
May 31, 2005 ‒ May 31, 2010    0.3%
May 31, 2010 ‒ May 31, 2015   16.5%

Contrast the results above with the compound annual rate of return for the entire 20-year below for the same SPDR® S&P 500® ETF with dividends reinvested:

May 31, 1995 ‒ May 31, 2015    9.0%

Some might argue that it would have been better to invest only during the 1995-2000 and the 2010-2015 periods and avoid the market during the 2000-2010 period altogether. This makes sense only in a world in which you can see the future.

Besides, the market often bounces back quickly even after gut-wrenching price drops. In the days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 11.6%. But over the following month it rose 13.6%. And three months after the plunge, it was up 18.5%.

A similar story has played out after a number of events, including the assassination of JFK, the Iranian hostage crisis, and even the market crash of 1929. The market plunged 43.7% during that month-long decline ‒ but over the following six months, it rose 46%. The bottom line: market drops are often followed by significant rises. Jump out at the wrong time, and you miss the rebound.

The market will continue to rise and fall, as it always has. The principal balance in your investment account will continue to “bounce” up and down. None of this should deter you from staying invested for the long term in accordance with a well-designed retirement and investment plan, and accelerating the compounding of your returns with dividend reinvestment.