In Times Like This, Positive Energy & Optimism are Vital for Reassuring Investors

By Lonnie Macdonald, Chief Marketing Officer


I’ve been working in the Asset Management and Wealth Management spaces since 1986. Since that time, I’ve seen a lot of events drive the market’s ups and downs, but I learned that, ultimately, market moves boil down to two things—greed and fear.

Certainly in the past few weeks during this pandemic crisis, fear has been driving the markets, interspersed with moments of opportunity (greed?). We are also being fed a steady diet of daily news that moves the markets down, up, and sideways. The VIX (volatility index) is at its highest levels ever, and as of Monday, March 23, the headlines screamed that this is as bad as things have been since the Great Depression.

It’s not a lot of fun out there right now. Investors are scared and paralyzed. Because of the pandemic, advisors can’t even see them face-to face to offer assurances that this too shall pass, and they should stay the course. After all, many say, black swans do not come by every day, and when you’re in a situation like this, it’s often best to do nothing. If you decide that’s not the right course for you, you may miss the upward bounce of recovery. Most advisors are decidedly positive even in the face of all this uncertainty, since they’ve been here before.

“I just called to say …”

I had a call from my youngest son yesterday. He’s an independent soul and entrepreneur who owns his own business and makes a nice living. He called me for some reassurance. The conversation began:

“Hey, Dad!”

“What’s up son?”

“Well, I was just looking at my rollover IRA and my SEP IRA, and I’m down quite a bit. I’m wondering what to do. Should I get out?”

“Good question. Why would you want to do that? Has your long-term retirement strategy changed?”

“No, I’m just worried and wondering how much more it could go down. Can you tell me what you think?”

We had a 20-minute discussion on the market. I found out that he actually has a bit of cash on the sidelines. We talked about dollar cost averaging, buying on dips, and getting more fully invested (he’s 33, so he’s got a long time to go before retirement).

At the end of the call, he felt better, and I did too.

Financial advisors need to remember that if even their closest family members need guidance and reassurance, their clients certainly do too. Be proactive and pick up the phone to offer insights and tips that can help your clients get through this extraordinary period.

In these volatile times it’s important to remember that we are all in the same boat, feeling the same emotions, and hoping we can ride out the storm. Look for ways to reassure each other that everything will be alright. Life is not all about money—it’s all about relationships.

We would all be well-served to remember that “when you’re going through hell,” as Winston Churchill famously quipped, “Keep going.”

The real trick is to not only enable family members and clients to navigate these troubled waters, but to convince them to endure these conditions with an optimistic outlook. Reach deep inside yourself and look for positive energy! It can be as contagious as any pandemic. If you can manage that, you’ll have helped many more people than you can know.

Lonnie Macdonald is Chief Marketing Officer of Vestmark.

By Lonnie Macdonald, Chief Marketing Officer