On March 24, Jeff and I penned letters offering perspectives on the roiling stock markets. That date marked their 2020 low. Since then and through Thanksgiving, Dimensional’s US Small Cap Value Fund (DFSVX) registered an 84.2% gain. Their International Small Cap Value Fund (DISVX) gained 64.2%. The S&P 500 Index Fund booked a 62.7% return. These all are reasons to be even more grateful! These results underline our global economy’s resilience, driven by innovative and well-intentioned entrepreneurs who constantly offer what consumers seek in an ever-uncertain world.
Sadly, some of our loved ones have been physically affected by the pandemic. Our prayers for their recovery continue to be extended to those who have fallen prey to the relentless virus.
In the throes of waves of angst, I’ve become curious about blessings offered during this challenging epoch. In a bit of kitchen-sink, non-peer-reviewed research and straight from my heart, I’ve pondered the unintended consequences of COVID-19. There are positive ones. My conversations about those positive consequences have been lengthy and passionate, reaffirming Kahlil Gibran’s observation: “Your living is not determined so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
Confirming the adage that crises don’t make characters but, rather, reveal them, COVID’s threats have offered precious insights into the characters of folks about whom I care. To the extent I can hold their feelings with care and compassion, the tendency to act on them is reduced. Since acting on feelings can be detrimental to one’s health and wealth, everyone benefits from robust, frank, transparent, and supportive dialogues.
The miracles that technology offers us have made it easy to engage in those conversations. A dear friend of mine who turned 100 in July was treated to a Zoom birthday celebration of 350 adoring family members and friends far beyond anything he could imagine. Companies also have shifted the ways in which gatherings are held. Some of those ways are taking on permanency, increasing efficiency and productivity, and reducing the risks of injury and death in traveling.
My “research” also highlighted how COVID has invited folks to be more comfortable and appreciative of a simpler life: reduced travel, eating out less, and more intimate moments with what and who resides at home.
As reflection time increases, deeper appreciation of what’s important surfaces. Shelved hobbies have been resurrected and pursued. Reading lists are being completed. Some feel COVID has confirmed their position in their life cycles, such as the grandmother whose role as her family’s matriarch has been reaffirmed — much to her delight!
As a poignant reminder of our mortality, COVID has led many to accelerate projects that have been collecting the dust of procrastination. Those projects include launching new careers.
Related to that last observation is the astonishing flood tide of new business applications. The Census Bureau reports 1.5 million business filings were submitted between July and September — almost doubling the consistently historic average of 800,000 for third-quarter filings.
Mahatma Gandhi believed, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” The question “How are you?” now holds particular and increased relevance. We at Equius remain curious about how you would answer that question — and how you are processing your positive COVID consequences.
What’s now become clear is that vaccines are being distributed. This speaks to what’s true of all crises: they end. Just as markets are prescient at anticipating crises far in advance of their turmoil, they snap back well before euphoria reigns. It’s a fool’s errand to try to time those sudden and vigorous shifts in sentiment.
As I mentioned in March, what’s also certain and a benefit to you is how Equius’s processes take advantage of market gyrations to increase your well-being, a goal to which we’re passionately committed, since it leads to longer and healthier lives. As a reminder, four primary factors enhance your well-being:
Mindfulness and honoring what’s coursing through you;
Resilience and bouncing back to your optimistic state from inevitable setbacks; and
Manifesting generosity in every way you can imagine.
Since COVID has helped us appreciate what’s important to you, it has encouraged being mindful, the first step in promoting your well-being.
The second factor in maintaining your well-being, optimism, is reflected in your portfolio’s strategic stock/bond allocation. It defines the optimal balanced state that increases the odds of attaining all that is meaningful to you if we maintain that optimistic allocation through all market cycles, regardless of what caused the gyrations.
What makes the most sense in responding to markets? Manifesting well-being’s third factor: resilience. How can we be resilient financially? By rebalancing your portfolio to its optimistic state when crises send your hard-earned assets into an unbalanced and less-than-optimal mix.
Knowing we’ll be taking advantage of market cycles, how do you want to ensure your well-being by engaging its fourth factor and extending your natural proclivity to be generous? Who do you now feel will benefit the most from your largesse? Reaffirming what drives your generosity will make you feel richer.
The end of the Gregorian calendar year is a natural time to take stock of your abundance — a state that’s not acquired but perceived. Conversations about philanthropy are another way to gain rich insight into what’s deeply meaningful to those you love.
We continue to take extraordinary steps to promote the health and well-being of our stellar and devoted team. These investments have promoted Equius’s financial strength. Thank you for your faith in what we do. It is particularly in times of crisis that we earn our fees.
May this season that celebrates the light in all of us be a fitting prelude to a year offering the gifts of a life packed with even more meaning and splendor given what you’ve learned in 2020, a year that has given us more clarity about what we value.
Thank you for your commitment to our investment philosophy and for giving us the honor and gift of serving you.
Equius Partners, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor.
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