The summary below has been created by a professional transcription vendor upon review of the recorded presentation. Please excuse any typos as well as portions noted to be inaudible.
[REFER TO SLIDE 1]
Hello, and welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for listening in today. In light of everything that’s happening in the world and in our communities, and really, the very challenging times that we’re all finding ourselves in, we, at Modera, thought it would be important to reach out beyond the individual phone calls and emails that you’ve been receiving from us, and just take a minute today to offer a brief presentation so that we can share some additional perspective. My name is Jennifer Faherty. I’m the Head of Client Experience here at Modera, and I’d like to introduce George Padula, who is Modera’s Chief Investment Officer. He’ll be sharing some perspectives with regards to the global markets. And, we’ll also be hearing from Kelly Henning, the Head of Modera’s Financial Planning Committee, who will be addressing some planning considerations in light of COVID-19 and, more specifically, some recent legislation that has been passed. So, with that, thank you, again, for joining us, and let me introduce George who will get us started with some Q and A with regards to investments.
[REFER TO SLIDE 2]
Hello, everyone. George Padula, Chief Investment Officer, Modera Wealth Management. I’d like to provide you with some perspective on global markets and asset class performance for the first quarter. [REFER TO SLIDE 3] During the quarter, global equities fell as the COVID-19 pandemic increased across the globe. Even traditional asset classes such as bonds fell as investors tried to gain liquidity. This chart shows how quickly things happened. The yellow or orange mines show what happened for the period from February 19th through March 25th. The blue lines show the year-to-date returns. And as you can see, U.S. equities, large cap, small cap, international equities have all been down significantly for the quarter. Even when we look at traditionally stable asset classes such as bonds did not perform as well as expected, providing the stability that they normally would. Aggregate bond index was down to flat. Municipal bonds were down. High-yield bonds are down. Even commodities were down. There are very few places to hide in this period of time. There were a lot of reasons for the increased volatility. Certainly, there was a fair amount of programmatic trading, systematic trading, de-leveraging, margin calls.
Certainly, we had the issue with the global oil price issues with Saudi Arabia and Russia. And there were certainly fears about the unknown of what was going to happen with the coronavirus. It certainly has been a roller coaster of emotions throughout the quarter, and as we look at this in the past, certainly, things were not particularly great during the quarter. But, I think what we really want to look at is, what is going to go forward because we can’t impact what’s happened in the past. We can only look forward and think about how we want to react and how do we want to be proactive going forward.
George Padula: [REFER TO SLIDE 4]
When I think about moving forward and where we might be in one year or three years or five years, I think about how a diversified portfolio may have done in other periods of crisis. What we did here is we took a 60/40 portfolio, 60% stocks, 40% bonds, and we applied that across different crises over the years. So, if you look in the far left, we have the October of ‘87 crash. Then, we move to the right with the S and L crisis, long-term capital management collapse in ‘98, the dot-com crash, 9/11, the 2008 Great Recession. And then, we have a U.S. downgrade in 2011. Well, the blue bar represents how the portfolio would have done after one year, the yellow, after three years, and the green, after five years. And what you’ll see is that after one year, in most cases, the portfolio is up, not by the equal amounts and not in every case.
But after three years, in every case, we do have positive results. Again, not by the same amount. But, in the five-year period, five years after the crisis, we do have some pretty significant returns. What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been in the financial services industry since 1988, and so other than the crash of ‘87, I’ve experienced all of these in my career. And it seems as though each crisis repeats itself, but yet, each one’s a little bit different.
And I think we’re going to see the same thing in this crisis. It’s going to be different than what we have seen in the past, but yet, the patterns of having a diversified approach, a long-term perspective should be able to apply here in what we’re doing in this crisis. It’s as though we’re trying to build a foundation. We need to put those bricks into that foundation because the foundation of a good, solid, reasoned investment, philosophy, and process are going to help us get through this crisis and they’re going to help us build for long-term growth. And that’s, I think, where we’re going to be coming out at the end of this as well.
George Padula: [REFER TO SLIDE 5]
So, we’ve taken a look at what has happened in the past. We looked at what happened in the first quarter. We looked at what has happened in other crises and how diversified portfolios reacted after those crises. But now, really, what the question is, what are we seeing today? What market trends are we seeing, and what do they actually mean? And I’d like to go through some of the observations for you right now. [REFER TO SLIDE 6]. Let me go through some of the observations that we’re seeing right now, and how we’re thinking about the portfolio development, and how we’re thinking about the diversification within portfolios. Here at Modera we have always tried to emphasize very fundamentally reasoned and sound investment principles: diversifying globally, focusing on quality, making sure that we have diversification across all asset classes, fixed-income, equities, real estate, other asset classes.
Within the asset classes, making sure that we have a mix: large cap, small cap, international, domestic, treasuries, corporate bonds, municipal bonds. That diversification, that “building the pie,” so to speak, and sticking to the plan, sticking to the long-term investment principles we have built in, and we know that there’s always going to be risk within the markets. The goal is to try to mitigate that risk as much as we can. Mitigating risk also means rebalancing as necessary, making sure that there’s cash. And that’s part of the principles of the financial planning that we do for you. One of the things that some people have talked about is, can you time the market? Well you can see from the slide prior.. previously that trying to time the market would have been very difficult in this first quarter because, really, everything that happened within such a short period of time, and the volatility spiked as much as it did. And the whole idea of trying to time the market, if you think about it, it’s almost like a windshield wiper on your car.
Cash stocks, cash bonds, bonds, stocks, that back and forth. It just really does such damage to a long-term plan and a long-term portfolio perspective. So, we try not to time the market. We do try to be as aware and try to be rebalanced to the targets that we have within our asset classes. What are we seeing in a couple of things right now? Well, I’ll tell you, I was on a conference call with a research group, and we were talking about what’s happening in the oil markets. As you know, oil’s gone down about 50% in the last a month or so as the fight for market share and production has been going on between OPEC, and the Saudis, and Russia. What they were saying is that there’s enormous pressure to get that resolved. If that gets resolved in the next few weeks, the next month, that could provide some real stability to the marketplace reducing the volatility.
We’ve got to get the bond market stable. The Fed has done a great job providing liquidity, bringing out its playbook for the crisis. The fiscal stimulus as well is working with the Fed helping to stabilize the economy. But, if you think about it, we know that the economic numbers over the next three months, six months are going to be tough. We know that. But what we’re seeing underneath some of those numbers and some of those headlines are some bricks being built into that foundation. We’re starting to see some stability forming here. And, the whole idea is that it will take time. We know it’s going to take time, but we want to be able to have a long-term focus going forward. We do think about being as disciplined as we can through market dips and swings. We try to make sure that we have an investment plan not only in the portfolio side but on your financial plan that match and then work together for you. By focusing forward one step at a time, we can start to see that stability build back into the portfolio, build back into the markets.
George Padula: [REFER TO SLIDE 7]
We’ve been on such a roller coaster of emotion over these last several weeks. Elation, optimism, fear, nervousness, optimism again. Sometimes these emotions take over every hour, every day, every week. We’re up and down. Our job, and our goal, and our role is to try to be as objective as possible, to try to help build investment portfolios with a forward-thinking approach built on fundamental investment principles. It’s very, very hard to remove the emotions of what we’re feeling, and sometimes, it’s not even worth it to remove those because we are all humans in what we’re doing. And when I think about what we are approaching here, we talked about that the economy is not going to look particularly good, but I also think about some optimistic things here. The innovation and the technological collaboration that’s going on. The pulling together of so many within our community to help those less fortunate. We need to build and continue to build that investment approach.
We can continue to build the plans. We’re going to continue to make sure that your investment portfolios are sound based on the principles that we’ve used and focused in on for so many years. We value tremendously the trust and confidence that you placed in our services. I’d urge you at any time, feel free to give us a call. Give me a call. I’m always available to answer your questions. I want to thank you for taking the time. I’ve talked a lot about the investment side of it, and now I’m going to turn it over to my colleague Kelly Henning, who’s going to talk about some of the financial planning principles that are so important for you, and your portfolio, and your families. Thank you.
Kelly Henning: [REFER TO SLIDE 8]
What financial steps should I be considering? [REFER TO SLIDE 9] We recommend that all our clients confirm their current cash holdings. Cash holdings of anywhere between six months to two years of living expenses is prudent, especially during times like this. The shorter end of the spectrum is recommended for couples who are both employed full-time and do not have current concerns about their job security. The longer end of the spectrum is for retirees who mainly rely on their bank accounts and investment accounts for income. If you are retired, and most of your living expenses are covered by social security and pension, we recommend speaking with your wealth management team to make sure that you are comfortable with your current level of cash. It’s also important to understand where all your cash holdings are held. You may have them in a combination of your local bank accounts, online bank accounts, and investment accounts.
We recommend understanding the total amounts across all the different types of cash that you own because it may be held in a checking account, a savings account, a CD, or money market fund. Keep in mind, that if you do own a CD, and you do need to cash it in, you may lose the interest that is accrued on the CD if it is cashed in prior to maturity. In addition to understanding where cash is, we recommend understanding if you can easily access the funds from the comfort of your own home.
And finally, with regards to your cash, we recommend confirming that all of your cash holdings are FDIC insured. The standard deposit insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category. The rules can get complex, so if you have any questions about whether or not you have adequate FDIC insurance coverage, please contact your Modera wealth management team.
Kelly Henning: [REFER TO SLIDE 10]
The IRS recently extended the 2019 federal tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th. This includes both the filing and the payment, federal taxes owed up to $1 million. In addition, quarterly estimates for 2020 that would otherwise be due on April 15th have been extended to July 15th. We recommend checking with your accountant to determine whether or not your applicable tax [deadline has been pushed.
If you have already sent your documentation to your accountant, we recommend discussing with him or her one it is appropriate for you to file your returns. You may consider filing earlier than later if you are expected to receive a refund on your 2019 taxes. The IRS guidelines also allow for IRA and Roth IRA contributions the 2019 tax year to be extended to July 15th. There are nuances under the guidelines on whether or not other types of retirement account and plan contributions are extended. As a result, we recommend that you speak with your Modera team to determine whether or not your retirement account or plan allows for an extension for contributions.
Kelly Henning: [REFER TO SLIDE 11]
How might the new stimulus package affect me? [REFER TO SLIDE 12] On Friday, March 27th, the CARES Act was signed into law. The main purpose of the law is to assist Americans, both individuals and businesses, that are suffering economic hardship caused by COVID-19. I’m sure that many of you have heard about the recovery rebates. Recovery rebates will be available to certain Americans depending on Adjusted Gross Income. It is either the Adjusted Gross Income listed on your 2018 tax return, or your AGI if you have already filed your 2019 tax return. The rebates are income-based and phase out above different levels depending on your tax filing status. There are additional recovery rebates available if you have dependent children.
The CARES Act provides programs and guidance for small business owners whose operations have been affected by COVID-19. On Monday, [inaudible 00:17:12], Modera provided guidance to many of our clients who operate small businesses and are looking for some guidance on how to act in light of the recent CARES Act passage. Under the CARES Act, another change was the suspension of required minimum distributions for 2020. This applies to regular RMDs for IRA accounts as well as inherited IRA accounts. If you’ve already withdrawn all or part of your required minimum distribution, but you do not need the funds this year, there are some options, if you [inaudible 00:18:02] the funds back into your qualified account. Your wealth manager will be in touch with you to discuss strategies.
An additional component of the CARES Act was to make qualified distributions available for certain types of retirement accounts up to $100,000 made in 2020 for individuals impacted by the coronavirus. This is for withdrawals from retirement accounts where the owners are under age 59 and a half and who need access to funds, and would otherwise be penalized 10% on the withdrawals. If you would like clarification on whether or not these rules apply to you, please contact Modera, and we can talk you through the various components.
Kelly Henning: [REFER to SLIDE 13]
If I’m still feeling anxious, what should I do? [REFER TO SLIDE 14] Please know that you’re not alone. We know that this is extremely stressful, both financially and emotionally. We’re all worried about our own health, our loved one’s health, and our greater community’s health. Please pick up the phone and give us a call. We love talking with you, and we always welcome your questions. You can also email us. If you see an article that gives you pause, send it our way. Keep in mind that for every negative article you see, there’s a positive one highlighting some silver linings of what we’re seeing in the community and how everyone is helping each other. And lastly, keep an eye on our website, Moderawealth.com. We’ve set up a page that talks about information as it becomes available to us that we think is helpful to share with you.
Kelly Henning: [REFER TO SLIDE 15]
On behalf of Modera, thank you for listening to this presentation, and thank you for being trusted clients of the firm. We wish you and your families good health, and we know that we’ll get through these trying times together. Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’re thinking of you and wish you all the best. [(silence) 00:20:29]