Updates from Sterling

Greetings from Social Isolation

Sterling is now in its 7th week of working from home, and we know that many of our clients are in the same boat. With video conferencing becoming the new norm, we thought we’d share an article by our office photographer, Steve Silverman, which lays out the best practices for getting the most out of your webcam. The tips include considering the background, making sure your image is well composed and lit, and making sure to dress professionally. The full article can be viewed here.

Most students in Minnesota and across the country are settling into their first several weeks of distance learning and the parents among us have been learning just how hard it can be to balance working from home with keeping their kids engaged with school.

Megan learned about the difficulty first-hand when her kids came in from their “recess” without closing the gate to the sheep pen. The grass is always greener as they say, and the sheep saw the opportunity to see what life was like on the other side of the fence and went for it. The hairy Houdinis were promptly returned to their paddock without harm, but the incident served as a valuable learning experience for both children and parents!

Luke has also had new difficulties in his working life as a result of daycare closures. For those who don’t know, Luke and his wife Sara had a baby girl named London last spring. As of this week, London has begun walking which has definitely caused a change in Luke’s working habits. You can rest assured that Luke will still be able to do video chats as normal, but now there’s a chance that his computer and webcam could be pulled off the table during meetings!

For all of you out there who are teachers, we want to give you our thanks for all the great work you do and for all the effort you’ve put in to make sure our kids are still learning during these strange circumstances.

 Economic Update:

These are difficult times; there’s no sugar coating that. Family and life events are being missed, vacations are being cancelled, businesses are shutting down. And that doesn’t even include the worst fact of all, that people are getting sick and dying. That being said, some very difficult weeks are also behind us and as the sun starts shining more here in MN, we are hopefully settling in to this new norm for a while.

As you may recall, these last several weeks we have been diligently working to take advantage of market opportunities by way of rebalancing in our clients’ portfolios. A week ago Friday, we concluded our week with a very important Investment Committee meeting (followed by virtual happy hour!) to determine the direction of our portfolios in the coming weeks and months.

By and large, the market has recovered to relative valuations last seen in January of this year. Sterling believes there’s risk to the downside in the short-term optimism, and this week we are rolling out changes we believe will further insulate portfolios:

  • Continuing to adhere to original macro targets (Balanced 50/50, Growth 80/20) however, within those categories…
    • Upgrading quality of bonds across the board to reduce exposure to credit and bonds with potentially low liquidity
    • Upgrading quality of stocks across the board to reduce exposure to leveraged companies & companies with low cash flow
    • Eliminating small real estate sleeve to limit exposure to commercial real estate
    • Tilting away from European stocks in favor of Asian stocks
    • Tilting away from sectors that would be significantly impacted by a resurgence in virus containment activity – travel, leisure, luxury
  • Continuing to rely on active managers to find the pockets of growth versus owning only the market indexes
  • You will likely soon, if you have not already, see trade confirmations as changes are made in your portfolio. Again, these are not wholesale/macro changes from our agreed-upon strategies (on a client-by-client basis) but rather tweaks to our portfolios for higher quality and more insulation against future unknowns.

Conclusion:

In one of our recent communications, we mentioned that we were living through a historic time but not a glamorous one. As time goes on, this is becoming more and more apparent. The Minnesota Historical Society has even begun collecting stories and artifacts from this time to add to their permanent collection (if you’re interested in learning more, the Star Tribune recently posted an article on the subject which can be viewed here). These have been difficult times, and as we fight through them together, remember that we are here to help. As you or your loved ones encounter new challenges, we welcome the opportunity to assist in any way we can. And, as always, we thank you for your continued trust and confidence.

Be safe, be kind, and be well,

Steve, Megan, Luke and the Sterling Team

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic stability, and differences in accounting standards. The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Asset allocation is an investment strategy that will not guarantee a profit or protect you from loss.

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Sterling Retirement Resources, Inc.
8401 Golden Valley Road, Suite 225
Golden Valley, MN 55427
Main: 763.762.3400  
Fax: 763.762.3409

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