A Steady Hand in Turbulent Times
I want to keep you up to date on our thoughts, strategies, and plans going forward as we find ourselves in bear market territory. When markets fall as quickly as they have over the past four weeks, it can definitely be unnerving, and this is understandable. My continued encouragement to you is not to get caught up in the day-to-day headlines of the market. We have been here before, and we will move beyond this current uncertainty as we have in the past.
Historically, pandemics have struck the U.S. regularly over the past 100 years. Though outbreaks sometimes precipitated or accompanied market declines, stocks typically regained ground quickly as the epidemic subsided. Even during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, one of the nation’s worst, there were quarantines, labor shortages, and a recession in the aftermath of WW1. While markets were extremely volatile during 1918, they returned to an upward trajectory by early 1919, even before the pandemic was officially over. You may be surprised to know that in the last twenty years, we’ve experienced seven epidemics. In case you want more perspective on these recent outbreaks, and their effects on the market, go to our website – https://harvestadvisors.com/blog/staying-the-course-coronavirus-and-stock-market-volatility.
Currently, we believe markets are running on fear and uncertainty more than rational assessments of the future, and this is understandable. Through this time, we do not want emotions of fear and greed to dictate investment direction. A disciplined approach to investing, along with our continual focus on risk mitigation in the portfolios, will pay dividends now and in the future.
Since my last email at the end of February, we have made some adjustments to the portfolios. We have both taken steps to pick up equities at cheaper prices and have been raising cash to provide more protection in the portfolios. We will continue focusing on this multi-faceted approach as we look for companies to add to the portfolios and to provide additional safety. I would like to note that when we make adjustments, we may sell a portion of multiple positions to raise the cash we need to purchase another investment. Many of you have seen these types of adjustments over the past month. It may create more trades, but it is purposeful in design for portfolio structure and risk mitigation. Also, because we trade individual securities and mutual funds with $0 trading fees, the added activity does not penalize you. In addition, we are mindful to minimize tax implications in your accounts whenever possible.
Moving forward we look to see sizable fiscal stimulus over the next week or two along with the monetary easing that we have already witnessed. Additionally, we may even see a nationwide “stay-at-home” period as an aggressive measure to slow the transmission of the virus. In the last bear market of 2008-2009, we listed four items that were necessary for markets to move higher. Currently, for markets to find a bottom, we believe we need to see fiscal measures taken to shore up businesses in the short-term, assistance provided to workers that are affected by business stoppage, a continual aggressive strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus and the fear associated with it, and an oil agreement between Russia and OPEC that will help begin to provide a floor for the price of oil. We are continually monitoring the fast-changing landscape and are ready to continue making adjustments, as discussed above.
As a company, during this challenging time, rest assured that we are available to you and working hard for you. We have many technologies and protocols in place that allow us to stay connected with you, within our team, and with all our strategic partners. Our environment allows us to be mobile and flexible during this time, and investment in our virtual tools enables us to sustain portfolio management, research, trading, reporting, and service operations without any interruption to our clients, even when we are working remotely. For those of you who want more detail on the actions we are taking as a company, please see below.
As always, thank you for your trust. We value you as clients and are honored to be working on your behalf. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Lastly, if someone you care about is worried about the markets right now, please reach out and let us know. Give the office a call at (513) 779-3030 and we’ll take care of them for you. Thank you.
Marc Henn, CFP®
Harvest Business Operations
We believe we have a social responsibility to do our part to assist our clients and to help people in our community, our city, our state, and our country. While the office will currently be open during this time, most of us will be working remotely. Here are the virtual tools we use to assist you during (and after) the virus outbreak:
Staying in touch with clients without touching clients
- Remote meetings - GoToMeeting with screen sharing, conference calls, phone calls.
- Digital signatures of documents - Encrypted document sharing and emails of confidential data using Citrix ShareFile.
- Scanning and sending of hand-signed documents.
- Email communications and updates.
- Harvest USPS mailbox is lockable and can receive large envelopes securely - Located immediately to the right as you enter the Harvest parking lot, you can hand-deliver documents directly into our mailbox without needing to enter our office.
- USPS mail system for delivery of traditional envelopes.
- Please note: we will not be taking walk-ins. Be sure to call ahead and set an appointment or make other arrangements to meet remotely, as described above.
Ensuring that clients have 24/7 access to their accounts
- Your client portal is available online at our website – https://harvestadvisors.com/ – go to the top right corner of the screen and click on Client Access. If you forgot your password, you can use the recovery option at the login screen.
- You can also log into accounts at your custodian (Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, etc.)
Leveraging technology to stay on top of market and economic activity
- We use a cloud-based portfolio management system for trading, reporting, and market analytics
- Cybersecurity protocols make it possible for us to work securely when outside the office.
- Real-time threat detection and protection on all company-approved devices.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunneling, when appropriate.
- Enterprise-class password management.
- Company phone system works seamlessly anywhere in the world.
Enacting the Business Continuity Plan at Harvest
- Take proactive steps to protect team members and their families.
- Follow all CDC recommendations - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.
- Practice employee distancing.
- Utilize remote work-from-home capabilities.
- Discontinue all in-person team meetings.
- Maintain separate workspaces when in offices.
- Schedule office rotation for coverage until virus threat is lifted.