March 18, 2020
I am writing this newsletter from my home office because my wife and I are in self-imposed isolation. We are not sick, but we recognize we are in the vulnerable demographic group. We are trying to protect ourselves and mitigate the virus circumstances by “social distancing.”
Typically, a major part of our job is to “remove the emotion” from the conversations about your finances and investing. Money is emotionally charged. Likely by now, you’ve heard it from us and many other sources, reacting emotionally to the markets is usually a recipe for disaster.
Well, I’m going to do something a bit different today. I’m putting emotion into this conversation. I’m going to tell you how I’m feeling about all of this. Because the truth is, we all have the emotions. So let’s talk about them, and then I’ll tell you what I’m doing to work through them:
I still have PTSD from the recession and markets from October 2007 through March 2009. This was the worst time of my professional career and threw me into a temporary depression. That was the only time that I can remember it being difficult to wake up and go to the office every morning. (In case you didn’t know, I LOVE what I do.) It wore me down. After recovering from the recession and the stock market’s deep declines, I never thought we would have to face anything like that again.
Now, here we are in a “bear” market (a decline of at least 20%), as well as a global pandemic. I am now planning for the work-optional part of my life, with a little more time off, and a little more golf. Thus, I have the same fears as any retiree or prospective retiree. None of us want to see serious or even mild declines in our portfolios. However, I know from personal experience (50+ years) that we must invest for the long term and not just one, or a few years.
As an advisor it is my nature to shoulder the weight of this market volatility not just for myself, but for all of my (our) clients. That’s a lot! This (the stock market & COVID-19) isn’t just a threat to our portfolios but to our personal health as well. That’s scary!
I feel all of that – the fear, the anger, the stress, the worry – and I let it sink in…
So what do I do?
This is how I get past it – I let the logical/rational/left part of my brain work through it this way:
This is not the same as 2007 to 2009. We will get through this! How do I know that? We’ve survived ALL of the downturns that have come before! 100% of them. In fact, we thrived after they ended! I’ve prepared for this with my own portfolio, and we’ve structured our clients’ portfolios to survive and thrive!
This reminds me of the time my wife and I were on vacation in Maui, Hawaii. We drove the “Road to Hana”; little did we know that it is one of the more dangerous roads in the world. It is a 62-mile winding road with 620 turns, many of them hair pin. Even though it was scenic, we were nervous and anxious the whole time. An experience like this feels like it will never end when you are living through it, just like the recession and market declines of 2007 to 2009, and just like today’s Coronavirus and bear market. Well, the drive did end. We were happy we did it because of the beautiful sights and the memorable experience, but we were relieved to get back to a smooth highway. Today people will be much happier when the markets return to a “smooth highway”. And we will return to that, even though we don’t know when!
One of the keys is “not to sell low” because you lock in those losses forever. Schools are closing, sports are suspended, cities are declaring states of emergency, businesses are starting to work remotely. The news will get worse and corporate earnings will come under pressure. None of these gut-wrenching declines ever feels good. In my 50+ year career I have experienced quite a few. The best way to achieve long term financial success is to stick to the game plan! Two years from now when we look back, I truly believe we will be saying that “2020 was the year of the virus, and 2021 was the year of the recovery.”
I can’t take the emotion away, but please know that I understand because I am feeling it too. What I can do is listen and guide you. I hope my story resonates with you. Please lean on us and call if you have questions.
A client of ours responded to one of our newsletters last week with a very poignant statement:
Don’t touch your face and don’t touch your IRA!
She says she can’t take credit for it, but it’s certainly worth passing along!
Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA
Founder & CEO
A reminder on the current operation of our firm:
We at Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd. are taking the proper precautions to protect ourselves and our clients, and we continue to focus on the wellbeing of our clients, associates and business partners. This includes the decision to suspend in person meetings and only hold virtual meetings – phone or video conference – for the foreseeable future. If you feel you have a need to physically stop in the office, please call first.
Our office is fully operational and our staff is working remotely. Based on what we know at this time, we do not have concerns about our ability to conduct business as usual.