The role of financial advisor is a responsible one at the best of times. People entrust you with their money, their hopes and their dreams, and it’s your job to make sure that you give them the best possible advice. It is a job which has become all the more important now we have been swept up into an unprecedented pandemic and are all still learning what to do.
Stock markets are crashing, companies are laying off staff and there is no end in sight. So what should you be doing to make sure that your hopes and dreams remain intact, once we emerge from this crisis, whenever that may be?
As a financial advisor with years of experience, I know this is not a time to take far-reaching investment decisions. No-one knows how long this crisis will last and how the global economy will come out of it. The most important thing is making sure you get through it with your finances as intact as possible. And this is where I hope we can help.
This is new territory and there is a lot of information floating around. But try to focus on the positive and on keeping yourself and your family safe. Do not obsess about lost investments. Some of the wealth you have accumulated may have gone, but if you still have a job or other steady income you can count yourself fortunate. Don’t buy or sell assets or alter your investment strategy. Stay calm. Wealth will return after the crisis has blown over.
Instead, invest in your community and your family. Make time to connect and share with the people who live around you and help ease the burden of isolation of those who live alone, using social media tools.
Is there some specific gift or skill you can offer to make life easier for others? Are there mini-investments you can make to help others get through? I have been inspired by the myriad of initiatives springing up to help small firms survive, the local food delivery services and the ‘buy now eat later’ restaurant deals. The way brewing group Swinkells shifted production from beer to hand sanitizer in just three days is a case in point. In these days of crisis, social investment is just as important as financial.
Over the next few weeks, more will become clear about how this pandemic will affect us for years to come. In the meantime, we are all getting used to the ‘new normal’. One of the questions I know many of you are asking yourselves is what about the housing market, particularly if you have plans to move. My answer is straightforward. The housing market is not immune to the problems facing the markets at large, but that does not mean you should abandon your plans to find your dream home.
Buying a house is a decision for the long term, and you will still need a home when all this is over. So if you are secure in your job in the Netherlands, if you have no plans to leave for a few years, then nothing has changed and you should still consider pressing ahead.
Yes, there are fewer homes on offer and interest rates may rise slightly, but as a multi-year investment, property always represents a good deal [link to previous column]. You might even be able to pick up a new home more cheaply, as people decide to drop their prices slightly in order to seal a deal.
Buying a house is not a decision taken quickly and as I said earlier, this is not a time to take rash decisions. We all need to stay calm, but I recognize that’s not always easy. If you would like to talk about your concerns for your personal finances or about buying a house, please get in touch. Our team is ready to listen.
Written by José de Boer