7 Things (I Think) I Know

I recently had on CNBC in between calls to clients to see how they were doing and explain our current investment strategy. A hedge fund manager was on declaring with absolute certainty that the only course of action for the United States was to shut down for a month. “America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option,” he said. 

He then elaborated with a series of points, data, figures, and scary stories why (in his words) “hell is coming”.  Here’s an article with the full video if you must watch it.

It really bugged me.

Like many in our industry, I follow well-known investors and have a general sense of the players. This guy is not a medical doctor or an epidemiologist, or even a former intern at the CDC! He’s a hedge fund manager with a decent track record – some wins, some losses (I think at one point he nearly bankrupted JC Penney). But his lack of self-awareness and humility in posing as an expert and pounding the table about what we should be doing as a country to combat COVID-19 when people are extremely nervous, uncertain, and looking for answers bugged me.

It also prompted me to think about what I think I know and don’t know today, so as to be more helpful to my clients and find answers in areas I don’t have them.

  1. I know I’m not an expert on COVID-19, how rapidly it will spread, and what the ultimate health toll will be.

  2. Despite the fact that I help run a wealth management firm, I know that I don’t know what the ultimate economic impact is going to be and when the markets will recover.

  3. I know that COVID-19 is a lot more serious than a lot of people (me included) were thinking, and we need to take it seriously.

  4. I don’t know when this movie will end, but I know that it will end and how it will end. We don’t know when the stock market will start to recover, or when the economy will. Nobody does. We do know that they will recover, as they always have. This two-page piece provides some context.

  5. I know that in this golden era of easily accessible information we should only get our expertise from subject-matter experts. There’s no need to listen to hedge fund managers about pandemic responses. Plenty of amazing resources are out there. Find them.

  6. I know that the last few days have been difficult, but it’s been wonderful to connect with family, friends, and clients through meaningful conversations and help each other out and to see our wonderful team in action working with clients and doing their thing.

  7. I know that the temptation to get out of the markets and get back in later when “it’s safe” is so strong for some, and you have to be REALLY careful thinking you can pull it off.

Stay safe everyone.