Governor Ducey officially put our state on lock down status at 5:00 PM yesterday. As we have shared, our office has been open since the inception of COVID-19. Upon hearing the Governor’s news on Monday, we huddled as a team to discuss the next steps. While we do have contingency plans in place to be able to work from home if needed, our office is my safe haven. My children have been home now going on five weeks, they are climbing the walls lacking a “normal” routine aggravating their mother, and by the time Monday comes back around I am ready for a change of environment to go work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and we are all doing the best we can under the circumstances. I did not want anybody on our team feeling like our office being open was putting anyone or their families at risk. While financial services are considered to be an “essential business” it does not mean that we should stay open. With the volatility in the markets making the 1st Quarter of 2020, the worst stock market decline on record1, our clients need re-assurance that we are here for them. Since my decision to remain open was biased, it was their decision to make. Graciously, they all agreed to continue. Cannot explain to you how proud I am of the people I work with. They, we, have decided to remain open and be accessible to you. While I cannot commit we will be able to maintain our open policy long term, I have pride that I work with others that value the business of serving others. If you should call, please share your encouragement and appreciation for their efforts. I assure you we take both your business and our health very seriously.
With all the negative reports and continual rise of COVID-19 cases, we wanted to find positive things that are happening. Two very positive things occurred last week:
- Stock Market – The Dow ended in positive territory last week, up 12.84% making it the best week since 1938. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also up 10.26% and 9.05% respectively. Large and fast rallies are frequent characteristics of long-term bearish periods in the market2. I do believe there is still volatility ahead, it was nice to get double digit positive results in a week. We will see if this continues.
- $2 Trillion CARES Stimulus Signed – On Friday last week, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The government continues to be more responsive than they were in 2008. Since this happened on March 27th, we are still in the process of unpacking this legislation. Jon on our team is going to provide a summary of the important parts for you next week. There are many positive financial directives for 2020. For example, required minimum distributions (RMDs) for those over 70½ have been waived for 2020. Great news for those of you that only take distributions because the government forces you to. More to follow on this next week.
We also wanted to share this week what you CAN do. With all that is happening across the country right now, much of it is outside our direct control, there is a lot we still CAN do:
- Maintain Your Physical Health – The weather in Arizona right now is pristine. Get outside and DO something. Go for a walk or run, ride your bike (there are some great bike trails), go hiking, camping, fishing, or just sit outside in the warm sun drinking your favorite beverage of choice. You are only cooped up if you chose to be.
- Watch What You Eat – We all have things we do whenever we get stressed. At times, especially being sedentary watching TV, I tend to eat the wrong things. And, we all know what the wrong things are. Fill your body with good organic food as much as possible. Eat vegetables, fruits, and nuts as snacks. Eating whole foods helps your body and your brain.
- Fill Your Brain with Positivity – When this all started, I was having the worst time sleeping. Tossing and turning for hours. This went on for weeks. As my energy was waning from lack of rest, my wife who is smarter than me, asked what I was doing right before going to bed. I was either reading or watching the news trying to get caught up on COVID-19. Of course, my mind was going to have difficulty relaxing if I filled it with worry, doubt, and uncertainty. I literally had to turn that information “off”. Instead, I now read books of people that have overcome unsurmountable odds to succeed. So amazing and inspirational. Instead of getting caught up in the gloom and doom, I focus on things that inspire me. And yes, it has helped me sleep better. (All the smart guys marry beyond their level. Thank you, Babe.)
- Be Thankful – Under any circumstances, we can always find things to be thankful for. Some people that have survived cancer say it is the best thing that ever happened to them. My daughter is a Senior in high school and the remainder of her school year has been cancelled. No prom, no Senior Ditch Day, no walking at graduation to accept her diploma. Her college of choice is indicating they are only doing online classes possibly for the remainder of the year. No freshman college experience. While she has every right to be upset and we feel bad for her, she has been worried about this and obsessing over it for weeks. To help change her negative focus, I encouraged her to write 50 things she was thankful for. She gave me all the excuses why she could not do it. However, she did it and was very proud to share it with me. I was thankful that I made her list! I encourage all of you to write your Top 50 and post it where you can be reminded daily. Things may be rough with all the uncertainty, but there is still gratitude to create and be reminded of.
- Find a Way to Give – When we are down, or concerned about uncertainty, it is human nature to ask, “How is all of this going to impact me?” While your brain will answer most questions you ask it, it will typically respond negatively (lose my job, my house, my car, my kids get sick, etc.). When we ask, “How can I give to others,” your perspective immediately changes from poor me to what is possible. Got a call from a client that is using this time to start a charity with the goal of raising millions of dollars to buy and distribute medical supplies to residents in Arizona. The amazing part, he already had a multiple of talented individuals and institutions to help him accomplish this feat. We all have the ability to impact another person’s life. Another client called who is in her 80s and due to the risks, this demographic has with the virus, her younger neighbor was buying her groceries for her since she was afraid to go to the store. Uncertain times bring out the best in us if we look for those opportunities to give.
- Engage Socially – I have yet to figure out why they call it Social Distancing. It should have been Physical
Distancing. We were created to be social. We have a need to connect and engage with others. It takes more work to stay connected for sure if we cannot conjugate together, but we can stay socially connected. Use Face Time, send a text, reach out to a long-lost friend form high school or college. Force yourself to connect with others whiling staying home. Staying connected with others fulfills our lives and helps us stay engaged together.
We would be remiss, as your advisors, if we did not have a few CANs regarding your wealth:
CAN choose to stay invested.
CAN invest extra cash that has been accumulating in your checking and savings accounts.
CAN increase your monthly contributions to all your investment programs.
CAN do tax loss harvesting in non-retirement accounts to help with your tax efficiency.
CAN utilize this opportunity to buy better performing investments at a reduced capital gain.
CAN re-allocate your portfolios to bring your allocations back into alignment.
CAN, if you have a business, take advantage of some of the loans that are available through the CARES stimulus.
CAN call us if you need encouragement or the best course of action before you finalize decisions.
CAN use this time to get, review, sign, complete your estate plans. (You know who you are.)
CAN practice “Physical Distancing” and do what is needed to stay wise and alive.
We are not out of the woods yet. We expect the volatility in the markets to continue to capitulate and the CDC has indicated the number of COVID-19 cases has yet to reach its peak in the US. With the passing of the stimulus last week and a little more time for those distributions to US citizens and businesses, we are hoping to see these challenges begin to calm down. Lastly, I would like to thank those of you that responded to our query last week about establishing conference calls. Many of you felt that our Commentaries were enough. Please continue to share these with whoever you choose. By staying at the forefront on all of this, and providing weekly communication, we are hoping to acquire new clients that we can help.
Utilize us as a resource if needed, and feel free to email if there are any topics you would like us to address in future commentaries. Things are changing at a rapid rate and we are doing our best to communicate our thoughts and how this may impact you. Stay healthy, both physically and mentally, be thankful and give to others, and share any stories you would like with us. We love hearing them. We are here, as always, to help you in any way possible.