What are we doing about the coronavirus?
Following our board meeting at the weekend, I’ve recorded a short video to explain to our clients our current stance in respect of the coronavirus pandemic:
The coronavirus pandemic is clearly a significant issue. We’re closely monitoring official guidance and taking necessary measures to protect our staff, their families, and our clients.
We’ve put in place the hardware and software solutions needed to ensure business continuity, in case our team members need to self-isolate in the coming weeks, or otherwise work remotely.
Our existing systems are all cloud-based, which means no loss of access if we cannot use our offices in St John’s Mill, Tynwald, St Johns.
We are asking our team members and our clients to be considerate, and avoid visiting our offices if they display any coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature or persistent cough.
In addition, we are offering our clients the alternative to meet with us remotely, via video or phone call, instead of meeting face-to-face.
We are especially concerned about protecting the health and wellbeing of our older clients, as it appears that coronavirus can be transmitted before symptoms are present. See the symptoms list below.
In our offices, we are stepping up our hand-washing and surface cleaning activities, practising good hygiene practices each time we enter or exit the building, and on receipt of deliveries.
Where clients still wish to meet at our offices, we are happy to accommodate these meetings for the time being, but we will be limiting contact to the client and their Financial Planner, and thoroughly cleaning all surfaces between meetings.
The effect on your portfolio
We will provide further updates as the situation evolves and will continue to provide updates as they relate to the economy and markets too. Then we will better understand the economic and market response to what’s happening right now.
It is good to see immediate intervention of the bank of England, The US Federal reserve and other central banks step in as fast as they have to help stabilise the world economy.
Despite the difficulty in markets, we have looked to help clients avoid knee-jerk reactions within portfolios and sharp moves to cash. The long-term impact of Coronavirus is very difficult to quantify and markets have become increasingly volatile on the back of ongoing developments and media coverage.
With such large swings in equity markets day-by-day, any decision to sell positions poses a clear risk of selling at the bottom / missing up days / having to buy back into the market once stocks have rebounded – classic traps to try and avoid even if it costs in the short term. Weakening markets mean that bad news is being priced in and this particular episode has been so fluid that it has been very challenging to maintain any hold on the facts.
Our investment philosophy has always been to identify investment solutions which we feel will stand the test of time and ultimately grow in value over the long term.
I fully appreciate it is difficult to see such big swings in markets day-to-day and causing a good deal of concern for clients but realising losses is not the most appropriate action for a long-term investor that does not require a cash withdrawal in the short-term. This is something our investment manager partners are certainly taking seriously and challenging themselves every day on in terms of complacency, and why the financial planning process and stress testing is so important.
I hope this helps to explain our approach on your behalf. For many of us, as Winston Churchill said; the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Do stay safe, keep yourself well, lots of hand washing etc.! And of course, if you have any questions or concerns do speak to one of us in the Thornton team. We’re here for you.