To all our valued clients, colleagues, and resources,
As we’re sure you are aware, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has made it to the US. We know that there’s a lot of uncertainty and noise in the world right now, and we wanted to reach out to each of you to let you know the steps that Sterling is taking to manage the situation, from both an internal operations and overall market perspective.
First, an update on our office:
The Sterling office sees a lot of traffic coming through the office every day, so we want you to know the preventative actions that we’re taking to keep you and our team healthy.
- First and foremost, if you feel ill please don’t come into the office. We can always do a video call, a phone meeting, or simply reschedule until you feel well. Our utmost concern is your health, and the health of our other clients, and we want to do our best to keep the office germ-free. If you have a meeting scheduled and have any concerns, please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn of rescheduling or meeting relocation options.
- Sterling will temporarily become a “handshake-free” zone. We love a good, firm handshake as much as the next person, but for now we think it’s best to defer to a friendly wave or elbow bump.
- We have a substantial supply of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and good old-fashioned soap and water on standby. This was admittedly hard to come by, but our clients are worth the effort! We will be sanitizing the office following meetings and we invite clients to wipe down surfaces as well if it makes them feel more comfortable.
We will also be using disposable to-go cups for beverages for the time being to keep the office as sanitary as possible.
- Sterling has excellent contingency plans in place to deal with potential disruptions, so you can rest assured that we will be open for business at full capacity. We’ve had time to perfect these emergency plans over the years through snowstorms and power outages, so we are well prepared.
- All Sterling staff members can work remotely if necessary. Sterling will continue to operate even in the unlikely event that we need to close our physical office for a short period of time.
We have strong overlap and redundancy built into our client responsibilities, so we can perform all normal tasks even if someone on our team becomes ill.
- We can meet remotely via phone or video, and we have screen sharing capabilities so that clients can follow along with the meeting presentation just like at an in-person meeting. Click here to see our new virtual meeting rooms. We can’t wait to see you at “The Beach”, “The Cabin”, or “The Mountains”!
And finally, the investment markets:
In case you missed it, we sent a market update within the last few weeks. Since this last post, our outlook remains unchanged. At Sterling, we believe that having (and sticking to) a robust, intentional, and methodical investment strategy allows us to make decisions that are based off goals, not emotions. While we’re not recommending any broad changes to our investment strategies due to recent events, clients will likely see our long-established investment processes in action over the coming weeks including:
- Insulation: No one could have known that the COVID-19 outbreak would happen, but we knew that a correction would happen eventually. As such, we’ve worked hard to identify our clients’ needs, goals, and risk tolerance from the start of our relationship, and build investment strategies for them that fits these needs. Part of these strategies involve owning conservative assets such as bonds which provide “bubble wrap” to our clients’ portfolios and help them weather volatile markets. We’ve proactively taken these actions over time, so our portfolios were ready for coronavirus.
- Diversification: Corrections usually impact different sectors of the economy in different ways, and Sterling takes the approach that owning a broadly diversified portfolio helps provide protection in volatile markets. Outside of stocks, bonds continue to provide strong diversification to the broader equity market.
- Rebalancing: Each investment strategy has an established target in allocation to stocks and bonds. As the financial markets digest news, and stock prices fluctuate, accounts often become dislocated from our initial strategy targets. As a normal part of our investment process, we may bring your accounts back in line with our original targets. When this happens, we sell well performing asset classes and use the proceeds to invest in assets that aren’t performing as well. This disciplined and methodical process helps us take emotion out of our investment decisions and forces us to buy low and sell high. Clients may have seen some trade confirmations come through in the recent days and, if you haven’t, you may soon.
We want you each to take a deep breath. Things will get better. So, go home and hug your loved ones (but wash your hands first, though!), and know that we’re here to help you make it through these difficult times.
Thank you for your continued trust and confidence,
Steve, Megan, Luke, and the Sterling Team
A diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market. Rebalancing may be a taxable event. Before you take any specific action be sure to consult with your tax professional.