Is this really happening? And what should I do about it?

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Where to start? We went from a virus that was impacting China and named after a beer to the cancellation of major sporting events, schools and public gatherings. We’ve also had travel bans instituted to Europe and multiple state and local governments declaring a state of emergency. It feels and is scary and awful! Coronovirus has invaded the U.S. in the most unwelcome way. 

I’m a financial planner, not an infectious disease specialist. I will say what bothers me the most right now is the fact that we don’t seem to have widespread testing readily available. And even if test kits are available, results are often taking 24-48 hours to arrive. From my point of view, this increases the likelihood that someone (particularly in the 15-39 age category), may think that they just have seasonal allergies or a mild cold or flu and continue with their life and inadvertently infect many others. That seems to be the case with the NBA player who was diagnosed yesterday – he was quoting as saying that he actually felt well enough to play last night’s game!

Financial markets HATE uncertainty. They dislike uncertainty more than a teenager hates being separated from their smartphone. Think melt down, lots of drama, weeping and gnashing of teeth! (If you think I’m exaggerating, ask a parent!) Prior to the virus hitting in the U.S., markets had become somewhat uneasy, but life was still “normal”. With the increased number of infections and the President’s address last night, we’ve seen panic reach new levels.

Markets had to take a time out this morning (3/12/2020) and have continued to slide downward. At this level, markets will be down over 25% from the market highs set less than a month ago. Were markets over valued in mid-February? Maybe. But we’ve been here before – not the exact same situation, but markets in turmoil. The bust in 2000. The real estate and banking crash in 200-2009. In both of these instances, if you’d held tight to your long-term allocation, you wound up okay.

What do I mean by okay and what should you do today? If you’re retired, try to limit unplanned withdrawals from your investment account. In our case, we plan 12-24 months out for our client’s known distributions and have those set aside in very conservative investments. If you’re still working, keep contributing to your retirement plan at work. If you have investments outside of your 401k, keep contributing. The market has just offered a sale of 25% off! Will it go down even more, maybe? However, if your time horizon is over 5 years, stocks offer the greatest opportunity for returns. With the 10-year Treasury under 1%, “safe assets” are not likely to provide a return that will keep pace with inflation. 
I’d also encourage you to spend some time NOT watching the news or financial markets. Take the precautions provided by the CDC! However, worrying is not going to help the situation at all. Distract yourself. Watch that Netflix or Amazon series you’ve been hearing about, take a walk, practice yoga, play with your dog, swap your closet from winter to spring, tackle that work project. Whatever it is, I promise that you will FEEL much better. This too shall pass. The key is not to do any long-term damage to your health, either physically or financially in the interim.

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Our approach is to discover a client’s goals, determine the personal financial plan that is needed, and aid the client in reaching those goals. Our success is measured by how well our clients achieve their goals.
Hank has had a distinguished career in the financial services industry, including more than 40 years in the financial planning and securities fields. From 1985 to 2013, Hank provided fee-only financial planning services through his firm, Lifetime Planning, Inc. Hank merged his practice with Stacey’s in 2014. In addition, Hank is a member of both the local and the national chapters of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
Hank received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi, where he also lettered in football. He received his initial securities training at Merrill Lynch. He was a financial planning consultant for the Memphis office of Ernst & Young and financial planner at Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. from 1982 through 1984. In April 1984, Hank completed his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional requirements with the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado.
In addition to his financial planning practice, Hank has enjoyed serving on the boards of Presbyterian Day School, Second Presbyterian Church, University of Mississippi, and the Christian Community Foundation. Hank served as the chief financial officer of the Christian Community Foundation from its inception in October 1998 until October 2000. Hank enjoys reading, hunting, and attending baseball and college football games.
Clay serves Envision Financial Planning’s clients as the investment officer and portfolio manager. His duties include overseeing the firm’s investment process and money management strategies with a strong focus on “goals-based” investment planning.
As a firm, we believe in concentrating on things we can control such as:
Clay is a native Memphian and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He began his career working for a regional broker/dealer specializing in fixed-income securities, and prior to joining Envision, Clay was an investment research analyst and portfolio manager for a private wealth management firm in Memphis. Clay currently holds his FINRA Series 66 securities registration and obtained his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 2021.
In his free time, Clay enjoys playing golf, exercising, reading, and cooking with friends and family. He and his wife, Margot, have two boys named Callan and Wiley.