24 March 2020/28 Adar 5780
Dear RCRP participants,
The outbreak of coronavirus has affected all of us. As individuals, as family members, and as rabbis and cantors, we have all been living with new responsibilities and concerns, amidst disruption and uncertainty.
Your RCRP board met informally late last week and would like to offer its support to everyone connected with our organization. We will continue to work to serve you and answer any questions to the best of our ability.
As you know, RCRP does not manage the funds you invest. Fidelity (and for socially responsible investing, Calvert) invest your funds, based on choices that you make.
However, we can report that even with the significant stock market volatility in recent weeks, RCRP participants as a whole have seen a smaller decline in their retirement accounts than the market as a whole. We believe this is because many participants have invested in a mixture of stocks (which have declined recently) and bonds (which have been fairly steady), as per the recommended tiers we offer that are connected with a participant's retirement age.
While RCRP cannot give personal financial advice, we can share the general advice from many sources: Don’t panic; don’t make sudden major changes.
For example, our partners at Fidelity Investments recently (3/13/20) shared this conversation on its web site:
Coronavirus and the power of mindful investing- Four Fidelity pros see slower growth and urge a focus on long-term planning.
Key takeaways from that session are:
- The US economy is likely to experience an economic slowdown.
- How long and deep the US slowdown will be depends on when the growth of the coronavirus peaks in the US.
- Pandemics tend to curtail growth in the short term, but historically, the economy and the stock market bounces back.
- When markets are volatile, it's important to remain focused on your long-term financial plan.
Here’s a small part of the conversation:
Sheldon: What would you say to clients who are concerned about the recent volatility?
Devinney: We have been witness to some scary corrections in the past. On average, we've seen 20% declines every 6 to 7 years (see chart). And we've even seen that since 2008 because of events like Brexit, trade wars, Ebola, and now the coronavirus. They all have an element of feeling different or even unprecedented at the time.
For many people today, that can spark some emotions where we act with fear instead of acting with discipline. This is where we can really help— by taking the emotion out of the situation and encouraging investors to keep financial plans on track….
Sheldon: Should clients consider making changes to their investments?
Devinney: The answer is unique to your own situation but try to keep volatility in perspective. It's a normal part of investing and history shows us the stock market not only recovers from downturns but spends much more time in expansion phases of the market than in contraction. Whether you are a long-term investor or are living off savings in retirement, we encourage you to stay focused on your goals.
For longer-term investors who are several years away from retirement and have worked with Fidelity to develop a financial plan, the best course of action may be to do nothing because the plan is designed to withstand volatility, even sharp pullbacks. For clients who are retired, staying partially or fully invested is often the right decision, especially for those planning to enjoy a healthy and long retirement…”
We hope the above is a helpful perspective in this turbulent time. We will continue to share any relevant information as we become aware of it.
On behalf of the board, we wish you and your loved ones shalom, health, and a chag kasher v’sameach.
May the Holy One bring healing speedily and soon to all those who are ill, and may our public health and civil leaders be granted wisdom, insight and compassion as they work to sustain us in health and vitality.
Cantor Paul Buch Chair, RCRP
Rabbi Robert Tabak, Vice Chair RCRP
on behalf of the RCRP Board