In today's challenging times, Edward Jones financial advisors are thinking about the health of their clients, their families and their colleagues, what's happening in their communities and the effect of COVID-19 on the markets.
"Most importantly, we want everyone to know we're taking steps to protect the health and well-being of our clients, associates, families and communities," said Janet Maher. "We're right here in the community with you, going through this together as neighbors and friends. And we will get through this together."
To help reduce the impact of the coronavirus, financial advisors are taking several steps, including suspending face-to-face visits with clients, holding virtual meetings and training sessions, and ensuring office spaces are sanitized and disinfected.
"Like everyone, we really have to do our part to help mitigate this crisis," Maher said. "But since our entire reason for being in business is to help our clients enjoy more rewarding lives, we feel that our efforts now are just an extension of that."
Of course, people's financial situations also weigh on their minds, said Maher
"The current market selloff is certainly concerning, but it seems to be driven more by fear and panic than by economic or financial reality," Maher said.
Monetary and fiscal policies are necessary, but at the end of the day, medical progress will dictate the timeline for reducing market volatility and the ultimate rebound in stocks, Maher said.
Maher said Edward Jones expects daily volatility to persist until new virus cases begin to slow, but investors should find optimism in these facts: Unemployment is near a 50-year low, with solid wage growth; there's been an uptick in the housing market, which may accelerate due to declining mortgage rates; and the Federal Reserve has cut short-term interest rates back near 0 percent.
Maher said the drop in investment prices may indicate that the financial markets have already "priced in" the likelihood of a short-term recession.
"This could mean that we've already endured much of the stock market pain," Maher said. "And even a short recession is of concern to all of us, since it's likely to bring at least a temporary disruption to an otherwise strong labor market."
For investors wondering what to do now, Maher offers these suggestions: First, remember why you're investing.
"With the market decline, people will be tempted to change their investment strategies," Maher said. "But they need to keep in mind that most of their financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement, are long-term in nature – a lot longer-term than the shelf life of the coronavirus. If investors have established a long-term strategy that's appropriate for their needs, they should stick with it, no matter what today's headlines are."
However, Maher does suggest that individuals who are particularly concerned over the current results of their investment statements might want to evaluate their risk tolerance.
"If you are truly losing sleep over what's going on in the markets, it's possible your portfolio is positioned too aggressively for the amount of risk with which you're comfortable," Maher said. "In that case, you should work with your financial advisor to see if you need to adjust your investment mix to include more fixed-income securities, which can provide some downside protection. But you'll be making a trade-off, because you'll also be affecting your long-term growth potential."
Finally, Maher said, now might actually be a good time for investors to consider adding to their portfolios.
"Right now, many stocks are at their best values in more than a decade," Maher said. "If you need to rebalance your portfolio, this could be a time to do so."
Ultimately, Maher said, investors need to realize that, while these are somewhat uncharted times, people should fight the temptation to panic.
"All our emotions are running high right now," Maher said. "And while everyone's top priority should be to protect themselves, their families and their communities, it's still important not to lose sight of their financial well-being. And for that, the best thing all of us can do is look past short-term downturns and maintain the discipline to keep investing in all types of markets."
Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services to individual investors in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada.