COVID-19 is known to be transmitted mainly in aerosol droplets exhaled from the lungs. Data shows that when people speak, sing, shout, cough, or sneeze they emit aerosol droplets of diameter ranging from less than 1 micron to greater than 100 microns. A 1995 study showed that 80 to 90% of such droplets are of diameter 1 micron or smaller. An earlier study showed the droplet size range to be 1 to 100 microns and roughly estimated the size and quantity occurring from different types of activity, as shown below.

ActivityQty of 1-100 micron droplets1 to 2 micron droplets
Normal breathing, 5 minutesfrom none to a fewsome
Single strong nasal expirationfew to a few hundredsome
Talking (counting) loudlyfew dozen to a few hundredmostly
A single cough (mouth open)none to a few hundredsome
A single cough (mouth closed initially)few hundred to many thousandmostly
A single sneezefew hundred thousand to few millionmostly

Droplets of 1-micron diameter (a human hair is about 75 microns thick) have a long settling time in still air, and potentially much longer in moving or turbulent air. According to CDC data, a 1-micron particle takes 12 hours to settle from a height of 5 feet in still air, while a 3-micron particle takes 3 hours; a 10-micron particle about 8 minutes; and 100-micron, only 6 seconds. The virus within an aerosol droplet may remain viable for about 3 hours.
Within a building, a long settling time means that the droplet will travel with the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) airflow throughout an HVAC zone until it is exfiltrated in the normal exchange of indoor and outdoor air or is trapped on the media of an HVAC filter, or becomes loosely attached to a surface by electrostatic forces. For energy efficiency and cost reasons, normal HVAC filters are multiple-pass filters for small aerosols; that is, their removal efficiency is such that very small particles are not likely to be captured in a single encounter with filter. Also, these filters are not perfectly sealed to their frames, so there is usually substantial bypass that effectively lowers the removal efficiency another 10 percent or so.
If people infected with COVID-19 enter an office building, they can produce an invisible cloud of mostly 1 to 10 micron droplets of variable concentration that will remain airborne in the HVAC zone and be recirculated until removed by HVAC filtration or indoor-outdoor air exchange. The HVAC zone of the highest vulnerability is one that includes the building lobby, open to walk-in customers, and is part of the same HVAC zone as employee offices. The building maintenance supervisor should check the mechanical drawings of the building to determine if this configuration exists and seek to isolate the lobby from the rest of the zone, either by expedient or permanent measures.
For an office, the normal rate at which fresh air is introduced, per ASHRAE Standard 62, is 20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person. An office space for one person is thus likely to have only 20 cfm of outdoor air (fresh air, assumed clean air) in its air supply diluting any contaminants. This amount of fresh air entering an HVAC system can be varied, but in summer months, bringing in too much fresh air defeats the benefits of air conditioning and drives up energy costs.
A practical, low-cost, near-term solution for increasing the clean air delivery to occupied spaces is to employ portable indoor air cleaners having High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration media. These units, which are mainly used to remove mold aerosols, particulates of tobacco smoke, and pollen, are rated by clean-air-delivery rate (CADR) for a specific aerosol size. The CADR is not usually advertised, although it can be calculated by multiplying the fractional efficiency of the filter against a certain aerosol size by the flowrate through the filter. Minimum sizes of the air cleaners are shown in the table below, from the EPA’s Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home (2018).

With a true HEPA filter, the removal efficiency for aerosols is 99.97 percent of 0.3 micron particles. The 0.3-micron particle is the most penetrating size. Aerosols larger than 0.3 are filtered at higher efficiency by impaction and those smaller than 0.3 are filtered at higher efficiency by diffusion. For the 1-micron size, the efficiency is about 99.99% or better, so the CADR is essentially the same as the flowrate. That is, against a challenge of variable aerosol size, a 100-cfm filter unit with true HEPA and well-sealed filter media delivers 100 cfm of clean air.
A compact, quiet commercial unit of this type can boost this clean air delivery rate by 100 to 300 cfm when operated continuously in a one-person office. Multiple units can be employed in common areas, such as the lobby. With a 100-cfm unit in an office, the clear-air delivery rate would be boosted from 20 cfm to 120 cfm.
Because the COVID-19 virus is an internal threat transmitted by infected people, these indoor units cannot, within a range of minimum CADR recommended by the EPA, provide a high level of protection as would a positive-pressure filter system employed against an external airborne threat. The indoor air cleaners can, however, substantially reduce the dose to which employees could be exposed from infected visitors’ entering the building for a short time or an infected (asymptomatic) employee in the building for a full workday. The exposure dose – concentration over time — is a significant variable affecting the rate of transmission as indicated by the recent experience of hours-long exposures in bars, meat processing plants, and hospitals.
A Honeywell portable indoor clean air unit was tested and used for enhanced sheltering in place in communities near U.S. Army chemical stockpile sites under the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program about 15 years ago. Those filter units contained activated carbon filters because the threat was an accidental release of low levels of chemical warfare agents.
Some of the indoor air cleaners on the market contain very thin activated carbon pre-filters to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde or nicotine in addition to HEPA media; such carbon pre-filters have low efficiency and capacity for VOCs and are not needed.
In selecting a portable indoor air cleaner, it is also unnecessary to have one with an ultraviolet light source for the purpose of deactivating microbes that pass through or are retained by the media.Shadowing and short residence times in passing through render the UV light ineffective for this.
There are many portable indoor air cleaners on the market. Those with true HEPA with well-sealed periphery, an airflow rate of greater than 100 cfm, and quiet operation can be selected based on best price without compromising on aerosol filtration performance.
Good candidates are the Honeywell True HEPA HPA100, HPA200, and HPA300, which have 100, 200, and 300 cfm airflow respectively. The flow rate or CADR are not stated in the advertising, but the flow rates can be calculated by multiplying the stated room square footage by 8-foot room height by stated air changes per hour and dividing by 60. The flow rate would yield a CADR of 100 cfm with true HEPA. The three Honeywell units are priced at $140, $178, and $250 respectively.
–William (Bill) Blewett July 13, 2020
About the author: Bill has nearly 50 years of experience in research, development and testing of systems for protection in airborne toxic agents and chemical, biological, and radiological defense. He holds a Master’s in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. Bill is a freelance writer with numerous publications on chemical-biological defense and sports.

Acumen Wealth Advisors is committed to providing information and resources in these evolving times to help you make decisions for you, your family, and your business.  We have been collecting and analyzing data concerning the impact of COVID-19 and filtering it to you so you can make informed choices based on your specific situation.

Acumen’s portfolio analyst, Grant Allen, reviews the data daily to analyze trends regarding the virus and how it can affect the global economy as well as how we interact with our family, friends, and teammates.  Email us at clientservices@acumenwealth.com for a link to watch our video for an in-depth analysis.  Some key points of our research include:

Charts as of 06/22/2020 for TN, NY, and CA are below.  For more information, please contact us to let us know if you’d like:

Stay well and be safe!

Your Acumen Team

Recent Facts from the Chattanooga Times Free Press

 

 

The data used for the coronavirus tracking is obtained from https://covidtracking.com/  The opinions expressed in this commentary should not be considered as fact. All opinions expressed are as of the published date and are subject to change. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. 

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

Information is changing every day which can make it hard to keep up with the facts that are most relevant to you.  We’re continually keeping this page up-to-date regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19. So whether you need it now, or in the near future, it could be worth a bookmark.  This information is as of June 9, 2020.

We strongly recommend reading the coronavirus travel advice from your local authorities and governments — such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of State — as well as the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), a reliable and trusted source of global news and information.

Government coronavirus travel advice

As of March 19, 2020, the State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory that advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel.

If you do need to travel domestically, please be aware that numerous states have varying guidelines that may restrict the types of businesses that will be open. CNN has created a comprehensive list of each state’s guidelines, which can be found here.

Coronavirus travel restrictions for the US

The US government asks that all individuals traveling to the US from abroad self-isolate for 14 days.

Coronavirus travel restrictions by country

For additional information on coronavirus travel restrictions, including more information on countries not included in the above list, please see the US Department of State website here.

Coronavirus Flight Cancellation and Policy Updates

American Airlines

Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

Frontier

 Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

Delta

Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

Spirit

Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

Turkish Airlines

Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

United

Updated Flight Schedule

Change and Cancellation Policy

Have you been impacted by coronavirus flight cancellations? Get more useful advice in our article on what to do if your flight is canceled or delayed.

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

While this is a fast-developing situation, here are four coronavirus travel need-to-knows:

How can I stay safe when traveling?

There are a lot of practical steps you can take. Regularly wash your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel), avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and stay at least three feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Read More.

I want to cancel my travel plans due to coronavirus. How do I do this and can I get a refund?

First of all, call the airline, hotel, or online travel agent who you booked with. Not sure which company you used? You’ll see their name on your bank or credit card statement as well as the email you received from them to confirm the booking.

My flight has been canceled due to coronavirus. How do I get a refund?

Call the airline or online travel agent you booked with. With so many travel plans changed, it may take longer than usual to speak to someone who can help, but keep trying. If the airline or online travel agent tells you that a refund isn’t available or they’ve stopped trading, it might be worth getting in touch with your credit card company if that’s how you booked. If you have travel insurance, get in touch with the provider as well.

Will my travel insurance cover coronavirus flight cancellations?

It all depends on your policy. Check their website or give them a call to find out more about your specific situation.

Original skyscanner article found HERE. For more answers to commonly asked questions on coronavirus, click here. We have also responded to the top questions from our traveler community in a Q&A, which is available here.

This page was last updated on June 9, 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time.  We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.  

This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel. 

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

 

05/27/20 – With the Federal Reserve and the federal government providing massive stimulus to the economy in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, a persistent worry among investors is whether these policies will lead to inflation down the road. Once the crisis is over, how will all the excess money that is being pumped into the economy be absorbed? There is a concern that inflation will erode the value of bonds.

Our view is that deflation is a threat in the near term, and the risk of inflation in the next few years is limited. While we can’t entirely rule out rising inflation down the road, we believe it’s not the most likely outcome. A lot will depend on how quickly the economy rebounds from the steep decline caused by stay-at-home orders that have shuttered businesses and resulted in a spike in unemployment. A rapid rebound in the economy could potentially lead to inflation, but we think a slow recovery that keeps inflation moving lower and bond yields low is more likely.

The Federal Reserve’s big balance sheet

Many investors remember the 1970s, when inflation rose sharply on the back of expansive fiscal and monetary policies. As inflation and interest rates rose, economist Milton Friedman’s thesis that inflation is “always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” drove the Federal Reserve to target money supply growth in the 1980s, bringing inflation down. Therefore, whenever the money supply rises rapidly it seems reasonable to assume that inflation must be around the corner. However, in order to produce inflation, the money has to be loaned and/or spent, and must drive up the demand relative to supply. If it sits on the balance sheets of banks or is saved by consumers, then it doesn’t necessarily drive up prices for goods and services. In the words of another old adage, inflation results from “too much money chasing too few goods.”

Currently, quite the opposite is happening, due to the mitigation efforts for the coronavirus. Demand for many goods and services has dropped sharply as consumers remain at home. Business inventories are rising as consumer spending falls amid soaring unemployment. In the first half of the year, it’s likely that gross domestic product growth (GDP) will decline at its fastest pace since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Even the most optimistic of forecasters don’t expect the economy to fully recover for a few years.

In response, the Fed and Congress are providing relief to build a bridge between the current economic downturn and the potential recovery. The goal is to fill the gap that has been created by the downturn. Referred to as the “output gap,” it’s the difference between the economy’s potential growth rate and its actual growth rate. In order to generate inflation, the gap would need to close and growth would need to exceed its potential for an extended period of time. We see that as unlikely in the near term, and far from certain in the longer term.

Mind the gap: GDP growth is falling far below its potential growth rate

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and U.S. Congressional Budget Office. Nominal Potential Gross Domestic Product (NGDPPOT), Gross Domestic Product, and the Gross Domestic Product Forecast. Quarterly data as of Q1-2020 with forecast through Q4-2020, provided by U.S. Congressional Budget Office.

The longer the current downturn lasts, the more risk there is to the economy’s ability to bounce back, because recessions tend to destroy productive capacity. Some businesses will not reopen, some people may not get back into the workforce, and unused resources, such as structures and equipment, as well as skills, become outdated. While a rapid rebound is possible, it seems more likely that it will take time to close the output gap, let alone get far enough beyond it to create a lot of inflation.

Inflation expectations are low

Moreover, it’s tough to generate inflation if people don’t believe in it. After all, why would anyone “chase” goods if prices stay the same or fall? Delaying consumption could mean getting a discount later. There may be some price increases for certain goods that are in short supply due to supply chain issues, but widespread generalized price increases appear unlikely. Currently, inflation expectations are plumbing the depths of all-time lows. Whether it’s survey-based or market-based measures, the signs still point to falling inflation expectations. So self-sustaining demand-driven inflation seems unlikely any time soon.

Consumer inflation expectations have fallen

Source: Bloomberg.  University of Michigan Consumer Expectations Index.  Monthly data as of April 2020.

Market expectations for inflation are also low

Notes: The 5-year 5-year forward rate is a measure of the average expected inflation over the five-year period that begins five years from the date data are reported. The rates are composed of Generic United States Breakeven forward rates: nominal forward 5 years minus US inflation-linked bonds forward 5 years.

Source: Bloomberg 5-year 5-year Forward Inflation Expectation Rate (USGG5Y5Y Index). Daily data as of 5/11/2020.

But what about the long term?

After all, the current wave of inflation worries has been sparked by the unprecedented increase in the Fed’s balance sheet, along with the fiscal measures enacted by Congress. Once the economy “re-opens,” surely all that money printing will result in inflation down the road, won’t it?

It’s possible, but recent history doesn’t support the idea that it will necessarily happen. There were similar worries during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. However, despite the rapid and huge expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet at the time, inflation stayed muted. Asset prices went up, but that was the extent of the inflation.

Nonetheless, a lot of people remember the 1970s, when inflation was high due to a combination of loose fiscal policy and easy monetary policy. While there are some parallels, there were other factors at work back then. The expansive policies came on top of already-strong growth, so there was no output gap to absorb the extra liquidity.

Workers typically had wages indexed to inflation, so demand held up well. Also, the U.S. severed the last remnants of the gold standard in 1971, leading to a steady decline in the dollar. Finally, there were two oil embargoes in the 1970s that lifted the price of oil—a crucial commodity for the economy—resulting in higher prices for both industry and households.

Today, we’re looking at a different backdrop. Not only is there a wide output gap, suggesting excess supplies of goods and labor, but wages for many workers haven’t kept up with inflation for many years, partly as a result of globalization and outsourcing production to countries with lower wage costs. Perhaps that’s why there has been so little “chasing” of goods. On top of that, commodity prices have fallen sharply and the dollar has been strong, holding down prices of imported goods.

Falling oil prices have pulled overall commodity prices lower

Note: Chart shows the Commodity Research Bureau (CRB) Spot Index, which is an index that measures the overall direction of commodity sectors. The CRB was designed to isolate and reveal the directional movement of prices in overall commodity trades. The Spot Market Price Index is a measure of price movements of 22 sensitive basic commodities whose markets are presumed to be among the first to be influenced by changes in economic conditions. As such, it serves as one early indication of impending changes in business activity. The commodities used are in most cases either raw materials or products close to the initial production stage which, as a result of daily trading in fairly large volume of standardization qualities, are particularly sensitive to factors affecting current and future economic forces and conditions. The composition of the groups are as follows:  Metals, Textiles and Fibers, Fats and Oils, Raw Industrials, Foodstuffs.

Source: Bloomberg. Commodity Research Bureau BLS/US Spot All Commodities (CRB CMDT Index). Daily data as of 5/11/2020.

What about the debt?

Another concern is the rise in government debt. Will the burden of debt lead the U.S. to try to cheapen the dollar to repay it? What if foreign investors, who hold nearly half of U.S. debt, demand higher yields in the face of rising budget deficits?

We can look to the WWII era for a parallel—one that is getting a lot of press these days. The U.S. had built up a large war debt. In order to finance the debt, the Fed agreed to cap short-term rates at 0.38% and long-term interest rates at 2.5%. It bought bonds for its balance sheet, amounting to about 25% of GDP, and engaged in a form of yield curve control—targeting interest rates instead of the quantity of bonds it would buy.

In the aftermath of the war, inflation did spike up as price controls were lifted and pent-up demand surged. Also, housing was in short supply and many goods, like coffee and gasoline, had been rationed. Most importantly, unemployment began to fall as returning soldiers found work in factories that were converting back to producing goods for households rather than weapons. Consequently, the burst of inflation in the late 1940s flamed out pretty quickly as supply caught up with demand.

The Fed had been under the thumb of the Treasury for most of the 1940s, holding short-term interest rates near zero and buying bonds for its balance sheet to help finance the war. Its balance sheet expanded to 25% of GDP—near the level it is now. The Fed regained its independence in 1951 and quickly began raising short-term interest rates. What followed was a stretch of solid economic growth, but crucially, bond yields didn’t recover to pre-war levels for eight more years. Inflation and interest rates trended higher, but took a long time to reach levels seen before the war despite strong economic growth.

Bond yields were slow to rise after World War II

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve. Long-Term U.S. Government Securities (DISCONTINUED SERIES) (LTGOVTBD), Percent, Monthly, Not Seasonally Adjusted. Shaded area indicate past recession. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Fast forward to 2020 and we also have a buildup of debt and a Fed that is keeping interest rates low and working closely with the Treasury Department to allow its balance sheet to expand rapidly.

The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has risen sharply

Source: All Federal Reserve Banks: Total Assets, Trillions of Dollars, seasonally adjusted.  Weekly data as of 5/6/2020.

However, there are two important differences between today and the post-war period. The U.S. economy has a much slower potential growth rate due to the aging of the population, and there is an overhang of debt at the corporate level. These are factors that will likely mean that the recovery is slow. The unemployment rate has soared to double-digit levels, suggesting that there is likely to be a lot of excess labor supply for quite some time. While many workers will get their jobs back, some will not as temporary layoffs become permanent. That should hold down demand in aggregate. Even workers who return to their jobs may need to recoup some of the money they drew out of savings during the lockdown period.

The civilian employment to population ratio fell to the lowest point since tracking began

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Civilian Employment-Population Ratio, Percent, Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted, data as of April 2020.

The overhang of debt means that every additional dollar of debt produces less output. The Fed’s relief programs are largely providing corporations with loans. Companies can add debt to their balance sheets with these loans, but when there’s too much debt the marginal return on an additional dollar of debt declines. Given the high levels of debt already on corporate and local government balance sheets, it seems unlikely that the added debt will add much to growth. Rather than a burst of inflation when the economy re-opens, we might be looking at another stretch of soggy growth and low inflation.

The role of the dollar

Investor Warren Buffett said summed up the situation very concisely at his annual meeting: “You can finance a deficit as long as your currency holds up.” It’s about debt sustainability. With 10-year Treasury yields at about 0.68% and 30-year yields at 1.30%, the U.S. can sustain high debt for a long time—unless investors lose confidence in U.S. policy.

That’s why we believe a crucial indicator to watch is the dollar. Despite fears of inflation and “money printing,” the dollar has remained strong. There are few signs that investors are losing confidence. Because currencies are measured in relative terms, the dollar benefits from a lack of good alternatives. Japan and Europe are in the same boat as the U.S., only with lower yields and older populations. The U.K. is hardly looking very stable these days amid its attempt to separate itself from Europe. China’s currency isn’t even freely convertible.

More importantly, the world’s financial system is more dependent on it than ever. The vast majority of global transactions take place in U.S. dollars. Central banks around the world hold U.S. dollars—and therefore Treasuries—for these transactions. Over time, the debt issued in U.S. dollars has grown sharply—especially debt issued by emerging-market countries and corporations. All of these factors keeps the demand for dollars firm.

At some point, investors could lose confidence in the U.S. and shift out of dollars. The administration has made it clear it wants a weaker dollar for trade purposes. However, in the current environment, it’s hard to see what will replace it as a safe haven or a means of transactions any time soon. There is room for it to decline from its recent spike, but a lasting decline would be needed to stoke inflation longer term.

The Fed will also be important to watch. One reason yields have stayed low in the face of expansive monetary policy is the belief that the Fed would react to signs of rising inflation by tightening policy. Confidence in the Fed’s inflation-fighting ability is an important factor limiting inflation expectations.

Outlook for interest rates

Over the next one to two years, we believe that deflation is probably more of a risk than inflation. We expect that the recovery from the COVID-19 downturn is likely to be slow, keeping inflation and interest rates low. As the economy mends, the Fed will gradually unwind some of its emergency lending. As loans get repaid, the Fed will let some of its holdings roll off its balance sheet, and start lifting interest rates—perhaps two or three years from now. We expect the Fed to keep the federal funds rate pegged near zero for at least two years, and ten-year Treasury yields to remain under 1% in 2020 and under 2% in 2021.

For those who are still concerned about the risk of inflation and higher interest rates, it would make sense to reduce average fixed income portfolio duration. We favor a lower-than-normal allocation to long-term bonds, because yields are so low anyway. However, the risk is that the downtrend in inflation continues for a few more years and long-term bond yields continue to fall (while prices rise), causing a short-duration portfolio to underperform in relative terms.

Another strategy would be to shift some Treasury holdings to Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). TIPS are designed to keep pace with inflation. However, there is a price to be paid for this protection. TIPS yields are negative for most maturities. That means you’ll have to pay up now for insurance against inflation down the road.

Overall, a diversified portfolio with the majority of holdings in core bonds—Treasuries, higher-rated investment-grade corporate and municipal bonds—is our favored approach to bond investing in the current environment. For investors willing to take more risk, adding some aggressive income investments such as high-yield bonds and preferred securities can produce more income, but we would limit the allocation to about 10% of an overall portfolio.

By Kathy Jones

Image by Elliot Alderson from Pixabay

 

Important Disclosures:

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market or economic conditions. Data contained herein from third party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance.

Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur management fees, costs and expenses and cannot be invested in directly. For more information on indexes please see www.schwab.com/indexdefinitions.

Diversification strategies do not ensure a profit and do not protect against losses in declining markets.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed-income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors. Lower-rated securities are subject to greater credit risk, default risk, and liquidity risk.

Tax-exempt bonds are not necessarily suitable for all investors. Information related to a security’s tax-exempt status (federal and in-state) is obtained from third parties, and Schwab does not guarantee its accuracy. Tax-exempt income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Capital appreciation from bond funds and discounted bonds may be subject to state or local taxes. Capital gains are not exempt from federal income tax.

Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) are inflation-linked securities issued by the U.S. government whose principal value is adjusted periodically in accordance with the rise and fall in the inflation rate. Thus, the dividend amount payable is also impacted by variations in the inflation rate, as it is based upon the principal value of the bond. It may fluctuate up or down. Repayment at maturity is guaranteed by the U.S. government and may be adjusted for inflation to become the greater of the original face amount at issuance or that face amount plus an adjustment for inflation.

Preferred securities are often callable, meaning the issuing company may redeem the security at a certain price after a certain date. Such call features may affect yield. Preferred securities generally have lower credit ratings and a lower claim to assets than the issuer’s individual bonds. Like bonds, prices of preferred securities tend to move inversely with interest rates, so they are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Investment value will fluctuate, and preferred securities, when sold before maturity, may be worth more or less than original cost. Preferred securities are subject to various other risks including changes in interest rates and credit quality, default risks, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, deferral risk, corporate events, tax ramifications, and other factors.

Commodity-related products carry a high level of risk and are not suitable for all investors. Commodity-related products may be extremely volatile, illiquid and can be significantly affected by underlying commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions.

International investments involve additional risks, which include differences in financial accounting standards, currency fluctuations, geopolitical risk, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.

Currencies are speculative, very volatile and are not suitable for all investors.

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04/21/20

Out of everything we have seen in the financial markets thus far in 2020, the jaw-dropping collapse in the price of Crude Oil contracts set to expire on Tuesday might be the most jarring. The price of West Texas Crude fell into negative territory – minus $37.63 a barrel – meaning sellers were paying buyers to take the contracts off their hands. The reason for the collapse is most likely due to the complete absence of room to store the physical barrels by which the contracts trade on. Nobody wants to take delivery of the actual contract because there is nowhere to store the physical oil. Typically, the holders of oil futures contracts will either sell the contract and roll over the position to the next month’s expiration, giving someone else the physical delivery of the asset. Today, the price of contracts for May 20th delivery completely collapsed as there was absolutely zero demand to cover the contracts rolled off to the next month. This can be displayed by the difference in the May 20th expiration contracts and the June 20th expiration contracts. This was more than likely an anomaly, as the event was something traders likely had never input into their risk models, and we will likely never see something of this effect again. There are implications though. We now have a better grasp on just how little demand there is for the delivery of physical oil – as the global economy has pretty much come to a standstill while there has been a lack of decrease in output. As for investors wishing to make substantial allocations to the distressed asset, we don’t fully know the medium-term effects of what is happening in the oil market since this is unlike anything we have ever experienced. While the price of next month’s contract is not likely to plummet as we have seen this time, without substantial pickup in demand for the commodity, its volatility could be tumultuous. We don’t believe in attempting to catch a falling knife. Until we have a better understanding of the fundamental implications of the physical oil market disruption, we remain pessimistic on the commodity. Until then, the most attractive investment in the space seem to be energy companies with high-quality balance sheets, such as the ones currently held in Acumen-managed client portfolios. These investments will likely gain from the eventual recovery in the oil market with now more limited downside.

Chart provided by Bloomberg L.P. as of April 20, 2020.

 

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

Grant Allen, Portfolio Analyst

About the Author: Grant Allen is a Portfolio Analyst for Acumen Wealth Advisors in Chattanooga, TN.  Grant holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance-Investments from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Gary Rollin’s College of Business and has successfully passed Level One for the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation.  The CFA® consists of three levels of exams, each requiring a recommended 300+ hours of study, minimum of four years of work experience, and multiple letters of recommendation.  Exams cover Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Portfolio Management, Wealth Planning, and Ethics.

 

 

The opinions expressed in this commentary should not be considered as fact. All opinions expressed are as of the published date and are subject to change. Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. Investments in securities involves risk, will fluctuate in price, and may result in losses. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness.   It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results. Diversification does not protect against loss of principal.

Any charts, graphs, and descriptions of investment and market history and performance contained herein are not a representation that such history or performance will continue in the future or that any investment scenario or performance will even be similar to such chart, graph, or description.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

 

 

 

04/16/20

What Happened

So far, 2020 has been a complete wild card.  You may remember our commentary reflecting on the previous year and our expectations for this one.  We mentioned equities and other assets seemed “fully priced” at the time as a result of a 12-year economic expansion and historically low interest rates.  We also mentioned investors should expect 2020 to follow a totally different narrative while not expecting similar returns as asset valuations had already been seemingly stretched over the previous 12 months on the hopes of a more profitable 2020.  The unravelling of a virus, centered around a single location on lockdown to a global pandemic, has now produced a global economic shutdown – leading us to a truly unprecedented time in history.  This first quarter brought us recessionary-era-like economic data, such as ten million initial jobless claims during the last two weeks of March, and an updated unemployment rate matching 2017 levels (not including the last two weeks of jobless claims).  Throughout the same timeframe, financial markets displayed the fastest 20% correction in equity prices, produced all-time low yields across treasuries, and showed dislocation across historically fragile markets like High-Yield Debt.  The 15% rally during the final week of the quarter reflected the forward-looking nature of financial markets and the perspective of a future reversion to normalcy in the medium term.  Ultimately, the rally left investors confused to how markets would interpret our current state moving forward.  We believe it’s important to call it what it is – a screeching halt in the global economy – something we truly have never seen before.  This time IS ACTUALLY DIFFERENT.

What to Expect

Because of the abnormal nature, we will continue to learn from the events of the first quarter and in the future. Analysis of an event and its effects in advance of its end can provide great insight into what we are likely to see in the future, and more importantly, how to handle these events.  Using what we know, there are a few fundamentally educated predictions worth making at this time regarding the economy and the way the financial markets will react moving forward.  We believe it is of utmost importance to have a plan while, at the same time, acknowledging we can’t be entirely sure what the future holds.  Having a plan allows us to tactically manage exposure to risk and dislocations creating opportunities.

 

Since the very beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19, pundits and economists have attempted to describe the pending economic recovery by using letters.  Toward the beginning of the slowdown, the “V’ was thrown around the most – implying we will see a sharp decline and a similar recovery.  When recovery seemed to become much more complicated, we heard the “U”, meaning it would take longer for the recovery to find its footing, but when it did, we would be full steam ahead.  The truth is nobody knows for sure.  Anything but an educated guess using fundamental data and analysis is time not-so-well wasted.  We will most likely see more unpleasant economic data in the weeks to come.  As companies continue to layoff and furlough employees, the labor market data should continue to surprise on the negative side – likely lead to a continuation of fiscal and monetary policy the likes of which we have never seen and greater Debt-to-GDP ratios than we’ve seen historically.  As a result, subdued inflation will likely make its return.

During the coming months, we prefer to keep investors conservatively positioned relative to their allocation goals as we believe the unknown risks being presented negatively skew the short-term outlook.  The approach moving forward and the tactical shifts we made during the first quarter can be highlighted by a greater allocation to cash and far less exposure to emerging economies, international small cap equities, and high-yield fixed income.  However, we also prefer to keep ourselves from attempting to time the market.  Instead, we expect to adhere to proven strategic asset allocation and use fundamentals and what we know to make tactical shifts wherever we see dislocations or opportunities.  Using historic financial market corrections and events, we know rallies within bear markets north of 20% are typical, similar to the one we witnessed during the last week of the quarter.  We believe the possibility of another leg down in the short-term is high, given the likelihood we see no immediate dent in the curve of daily infections from the Coronavirus, a continued deterioration in the labor market, and tightening credit conditions for already over-leveraged companies.  What we currently favor are equities of companies with:

We are likely to remain conservative and value-focused until we believe the fundamentals seem favorable.

While we can’t predict a perfect timeline, we are certain there will be a recovery.  It’s natural to look to brighter days, and it’s the market’s job to do the same.  However, as murky as the short-term seems, we believe the most likely scenario for an economic recovery will come in the shape of a “Y”.  A quick reversion to where we were is unlikely, but there will be reversion to something more ‘normal’ than what we are currently experiencing.  Part of our confidence in the certainty of reversion is the strength of the consumer.  Since the previous recession, household debt, as % of disposable income, has fallen to levels not seen since the early 2000s and debt servicing costs are at historic lows.  The current fiscal and monetary responses should also likely protect a seemingly strong consumer base from more serious implications.  We also see much more strength in the fabric of the global economy’s financial system – partly represented by high quality capital ratios.  Then, we will, more than likely, find newer and better methods going forward and continue the next expansion at a much more moderate pace.  During these times, we expect a few longer-term secular trends to take precedence.  For instance, where we were once constructive on emerging economies, we believe the agenda of deglobalization will be further heightened when we reach the other side of current events, which pose greater risk for these areas.  We will also monitor the fundamental outlook for small cap equities, as the current economic downturn will likely weed out those companies having exposed themselves to over-leveraging in the last few years of historically low borrowing costs followed by a sudden stop in demand.

Our Thoughts

It’s highly likely most everyone who is reading this right now is at home, with their children or family, doing their best to be a mom and dad, a co-worker, a teacher, or a small business owner.  Whatever you are doing, we are sure it has been dramatically altered by our current state of affairs.  Many think the events transpired through the first quarter marks the end of not just an era, but of many eras.  The analysts believe the way we have done things for the last century will be dramatically altered to introduce new ideas.  Offices full of co-workers are now empty, with most working from home, and this is foreseen as the new way.  Those same analysts believe we will come out of a government-imposed quarantine and the law of forced space between us will become the norm.  However, we believe the exact opposite will occur.  eSports will not replace having a hot-dog with your buddies at the baseball game.  Internet schooling will not replace K-12 in-person schooling where children aren’t only educated in literature and science but in better ways to interact with one another.  Instead, we have hope the way we have done things for so long are not replaced by social-distancing norms, but as refined versions of themselves.  Throughout history, when the incentive to advance becomes survival, literally or even financially, we see the greatest advancements.  For example, the period of 1929 – 1941, the era of the Great Depression and the start of World War II, is sometimes looked at as our most technologically progressive of all.  The Great Depression brought unimaginable financial pain, but also supermarkets, sunscreens, and electron microscopes.  The point is, people didn’t stop shopping or searching for scientific advancements due to the times, but instead, found greater ways to prosper.  People need people and interaction.  We always have and we always will.  Our connection with others has driven us out of so many crises, and we believe our relationships will do the same again.  For this reason, we remain hopeful and optimistic about where we will be when we write this update in 2021.  We have found history remains kind to those who attempt to strive during crisis.  We hope we will soon see the flattening in the curve of people contracting this infection daily, so we can begin to relive what we once thought of as normal.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

Grant Allen, Portfolio Analyst

About the Author: Grant Allen is a Portfolio Analyst for Acumen Wealth Advisors in Chattanooga, TN.  Grant holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance-Investments from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Gary Rollin’s College of Business and has successfully passed Level One for the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation.  The CFA® consists of three levels of exams, each requiring a recommended 300+ hours of study, minimum of four years of work experience, and multiple letters of recommendation.  Exams cover Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Portfolio Management, Wealth Planning, and Ethics.

 

References: All Charts and data are obtained from Bloomberg as of 3/31/2020.

The opinions expressed in this commentary should not be considered as fact. All opinions expressed are as of the published date and are subject to change. Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. Investments in securities involves risk, will fluctuate in price, and may result in losses. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness.   It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results. Diversification does not protect against loss of principal.

Any charts, graphs, and descriptions of investment and market history and performance contained herein are not a representation that such history or performance will continue in the future or that any investment scenario or performance will even be similar to such chart, graph, or description.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

04/09/20

The COVID-19 pandemic has made its impact throughout the United States.  Not only has it had a significant effect to the economy, it has changed nearly every Americans’ way of life.  It has most definitely made its mark on your company, which may present serious financial difficulties for your employees.

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law.  In addition to the stimulus aid for businesses and families, the Care Act provides provisions for plan sponsors to assist participants dealing with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The provisions are immediately available in the form of expanded plan distributions and loan options.  Plans, not currently allowing in-service withdrawals or participant loans, may implement the provisions and adopt plan amendments retroactively.

Participants taking advantage of the coronavirus relief provisions, whether a distribution and/or a loan, must be a Qualified Individual.

A Qualified Individual is:

The plan sponsor may rely upon the participant’s certification he/she meets the criteria to be considered a Qualified Individual.

RELIEF PROVISIONS INCLUDE

 Coronavirus – Related Distribution

Coronavirus – Related Loan Relief

Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Under current law, individuals at age 72 must take an RMD from their DC plans and IRAs.  The CARE Act provides relief from the required minimum distribution rules.

Defined Benefit Plan Relief

Plan Amendments

Acumen Wealth Advisors remains a resource for you and your employees.  We are here to help in this time of uncertainty.  We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have.

 

 

 

 

 

This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice.  Do not act or rely upon the information and advice given in this publication without seeking the services of competent and professional legal, tax, or accounting counsel.  Publication and distribution of this article is not intended to create, and the information contained herein does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice.  The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. 

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser.  Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.  Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital.  No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

04/07/20

Crises make us see the world differently. Things that seemed important yesterday can quickly become overshadowed by fast-changing events. Conversely, parts of our lives that we might have let drift can suddenly feel like priorities.

The COVID19 pandemic and related volatility in financial markets may be causing such a reordering of priorities. In fact, for investors who find themselves unsettled by the stomach-churning events of recent months, taking some time to reevaluate their priorities could feel like something of an opportunity to be seized.

The good news is that research has shown that using specific moments in time to make a fresh start can work. The idea is to create an “old me” and a “new me” where the dividing line is a particular point in time—New Year’s resolutions are a popular example, but a crisis can also work—and then using that “temporal landmark” as motivation to correct any errors.

So if this crisis has you thinking about your financial life, consider revisiting your priorities, your resources, your goals, and your tolerance for risk. Now could be the time to assess where you are and come up with a plan for where you want to go next.

Step 1: Create a budget for life

When it comes to finances, life can be viewed as cash flowing in—and out. Saving and investing during your working years, if you stick with it, should lead to a rising net worth over time, enabling you to achieve many of life’s most important goals. Drawing up a budget and net worth statement can help you create a road map and stay on track. Here are steps that can help:

Step 2: Manage your debt

Debt is neither inherently good nor bad—it’s simply a tool. For most people, some level of debt is a practical necessity, especially to purchase an expensive long-term asset to pay back over time, such as a home. However, problems arise when debt becomes the master, not the other way around. Here’s how to stay in charge.

Step 3: Optimize your portfolio

We all share the goal of getting better investment results. But successfully jumping in and out of the market as it rises and falls is difficult and can be counter-productive. So create a plan that will help you stay disciplined in all kinds of markets. Follow your plan and adjust it as needed. Here are ideas to help you stay focused on your goals.

Step 4: Prepare for the unexpected

Risk is a part of life, particularly in investments and finance. Your financial life can be upended by all kinds of surprises—an illness, job loss, disability, death, natural disasters or pandemics. If you don’t have enough assets to self-insure against major risks, make a resolution to get your insurance needs covered. Insurance helps protect against unforeseen events that don’t happen often, but are expensive to manage yourself when they do. The following guidelines can help you prepare for life’s unexpected moments.

If you’re tech-savvy, consider storing inventories and important documents on a portable hard drive. It’s also a good idea to have copies of birth certificates, passports, wills, trust documents, records of home improvements and insurance policies in a small, secure “evacuation box” (the fireproof, waterproof kind you can lock is best) that you can grab in a hurry in case you have to evacuate immediately. Make sure your trusted loved ones know about this file as well, in case they need it.

Step 5: Protect your estate

An estate plan may seem like something only for the wealthy—but there are simple steps everyone should take. Without proper beneficiary designations, a will and other basic steps, the fate of your assets or minor children may be decided by attorneys and tax agencies. Taxes and attorneys’ fees can eat away at these assets, and delay the distribution of assets just when your heirs need them most. Here’s how to protect your estate—and your loved ones.

Taking control

We can’t control what’s in the headlines, but we can take steps to bring some order to our own affairs. On that note, here are a few suggestions for tackling your financial to-do list:

Original article By Rob Williams and found here.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

 

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

This information does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner, or investment manager.

Diversification, asset allocation, and rebalancing a portfolio cannot assure a profit or protect against a loss in any given market environment. Rebalancing may cause investors to incur transaction costs and, when rebalancing a non-retirement account, taxable events may be created that may affect your tax liability.

Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

Tax‐exempt bonds are not necessarily a suitable investment for all persons. Information related to a security’s tax‐exempt status (federal and in‐state) is obtained from third‐parties and Schwab does not guarantee its accuracy. Tax‐exempt income may be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Capital appreciation from bond funds and discounted bonds may be subject to state or local taxes. Capital gains are not exempt from federal income tax.

A bond ladder, depending on the types and amount of securities within the ladder, may not ensure adequate diversification of your investment portfolio. This potential lack of diversification may result in heightened volatility of the value of your portfolio. You must perform your own evaluation of whether a bond ladder and the securities held within it are consistent with your investment objective, risk tolerance and financial circumstances.

Risks of the REITs are similar to those associated with direct ownership of real estate, such as changes in real estate values and property taxes, interest rates, cash flow of underlying real estate assets, supply and demand, and the management skill and credit worthiness of the issuer.

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03/31/20

Congress has reached a bipartisan compromise on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to address the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 outbreak titled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There is a lot to go through, but business owners are making decisions today and Acumen wants to make sure you have the information you need to make sure you are informed.

We’ve provided links to brochures from third parties on our website we find to be particularly helpful with regard to one item we have received the most questions concerning. It relates to the stimulus including nearly $350 billion in funding for a provision to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) providing small businesses, certain non-profits and other entities with loans of up to $10 million. Small businesses (companies with 500 or fewer employees) can apply for the loan through banks making the loans on behalf of the Small Business Administration. Up to eight weeks of average payroll (as defined below) and other costs (including qualifying mortgage interest, business rent and utilities) may be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. It is important to note you must apply and qualify for this forgiveness. One risk we see is there may not be enough funds set aside for forgiveness at the current level or the SBA may deny the forgiveness for some other reason.  Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees are waived. This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury is designed as a complement to other COVID-19 related financing assistance established in the bill as well as existing SBA loan programs.

Features of the loan program include:

  1. Businesses must apply for the loan by June 30.
  2. Waiver of affiliation rules for businesses in the accommodation and food service industries, franchises and businesses receiving financial assistance under the Small Business Investment Act.
  3. Nonrecourse – SBA has no recourse against any business owner and there are no personal guarantees.
  4. Interest not to exceed 4%.
  5. No debt service payments for at least six months and not more than one year.

Payroll costs include employee compensation that is:

  1. Salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation;
  2. Payment of cash tip or equivalent;
  3. Payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave;
  4. Allowance for dismissal or separation;
  5. Payment required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums;
  6. Payment of any retirement benefit; or
  7. Payment of state or local tax assessed on the compensation of employees.

Borrowers must certify in good faith that (i) current economic conditions make the loan necessary to support ongoing operations, (ii) funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments and utility payments, (iii) no other pending applications are duplicative of the covered loan request, and (iv) the recipient has not received amounts for the same purpose or duplicative amounts from February 15, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Acumen is receiving volumes of information and we are attempting to condense it to what is most important for you. If you have any questions, we are here to help. This is evolving and we continue to do research to help you during these challenging times.

If you would like more information about this program and to learn more about how Acumen can help you invest intentionally, please contact us.

Sincerely,

Reese Veltenaar

About the Author: Reese Veltenaar is the Managing Partner and Wealth Strategist for Acumen Wealth Advisors in Chattanooga, TN.  Reese holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance with a Minor in Economics from the University of Florida, a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA).  Reese is a 2019 and 2020 Gator100 honoree with Acumen Wealth Advisors recognized as one of the fastest-growing Gator-led companies in the world.  He is also recognized in InvestmentNews’ 2017 40 Under 40 class for his accomplishments, contributions, leadership, and promise in the financial planning industry throughout the United States.

 

This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice. Do not act or rely upon the information and advice given in this publication without seeking the services of competent and professional legal, tax, or accounting counsel. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness.  

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

 

 

 

03/27/20

Work from Home Tips to Support Employee Motivation, Productivity and Health

Working remotely is not a new concept, but it may be new for some. As companies respond to COVID-19 with alternative work arrangements, many employees are having to work from home on short notice and with little preparation.

People around the world continue to discover the joys and challenges of working from home. The first few days may be amazing: working in your comfy clothes, eating your favorite foods, even taking a little nap when you’re tired. But after a week, many people report lower productivity, loneliness, back pain, and even weight gain.

How can you stay healthy and productive when working from home?  These tips are designed to help you and your employees avoid the many pitfalls reported with remote working.

Stick to your daily work routine while you are working at home.

Keep your sleep schedule on track. It could be tempting to stay up later binge-watching your favorite show, but the impact of changing your sleep schedule has numerous implications. When your sleep schedule gets off track it’s harder for you to get out of bed in the morning, especially when you don’t have to go into the office. Being tired throughout the day can make working harder and less productive, which could result in longer hours to accomplish what you need to. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/smarter-living/work-from-home-schedule.html

Get dressed for the day.

It mentally and physically prepares you for the tempo of work and that surprise meeting where you are asked to turn on your video camera.

Lunchtime = Disconnect time.

Take your full lunch break without work distractions. Disconnecting during breaks and before and after work hours will help you maintain some semblance of a work schedule.

Build in breaks in your schedule.

It’s helpful to block off time on your calendar so people are aware of the times you aren’t available and, more importantly, so you have reminders when to take that break. That is also your cue on when to go into the kitchen. Grazing all day or emotional eating can be very tempting while working at home. Diligence around break-time and only visiting your kitchen then is very helpful for weight-management.       

Get outside.

When at all possible, don’t forget to get outside in nature during these breaks. Studies continue to report the significant benefits of being out in nature on your mental and physical well-being.

Build in transition time before and after work.

To help you transition between work and personal when you may not leave your home. Schedule a few things each day before work to give yourself time to wake up, like walking the dog, exercising or making coffee. Similarly, having a ritual to end the day (like turning off your computer, leaving your office and locking your office doors) can help you avoid working late.

 Track your time.

And after a couple days, if you feel you’re not as productive or don’t know where the time goes, consider using time-tracking technology like tracking app like Toggl, which lets you manually track tasks, or RescueTime., which creates automated reports of the websites you visit.

Limit the amount of news you watch.

Watching too much news and/or TV can lead to anxiety, depression and increased stress according to the American Psychological Association. Remember to limit your screen time, just like we reinforce with our children. Always monitoring breaking news is breaking us, right now. The key is to remember: no news is good news, and will keep you focused and productive.

Create an official – separate – home workspace.

It is important to have space that you can physically and mental enter and leave each day (versus heading to that comfy couch or chair you hang-out in). Officially signaling “work” to your brain through a designated workspace helps “turn on” your higher brain, the part of your brain responsible for learning, executive functioning, and productivity.

Ensure that it’s a comfortable space (the chair you are using, the laptop support desk, etc.) with good lighting, as that is key to keeping you in a productive, healthy mental state.

Face-to-face meetings are still OK.

If you gain energy and excitement from being in the office, and find yourself missing that connection, take the initiative to schedule collaboration calls and use the camera on your phone or computer to hold “face-to-face meetings.”

Build in stress management exercises.

Standing up regularly, looking outside at nature, or taking a couple deep breathes before reading that next email gives your brain a nice mental health break during the day. Also, consider using an app to lead you through a two or three-minute brain break.

Manage email time and define “urgent.”

When working from home every email can seem like an urgent email, to the point where you don’t get any work done except managing your inbox. Set guidelines with your team and manager to establish an urgent protocol to handle those situations that do require a more immediate response.

Over communicate.

Go above and beyond to communicate progress on critical projects and key deadlines (out-of-sight can often fuel assumptions that you’re not working on it). Updates as FYIs are great at relieving team stress. Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams can easily be put into place to communicate. Microsoft Teams has seen a 500 percent increase in usage as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Keep in mind for most, working from home is temporary. We all react to change differently, and while working from home can be beneficial for some, it’s more stressful for others. In either case, remaining flexible and empathetic – and reminding employees that this too shall pass – will be helpful when it’s time to head back to the office.

 

Sources and More Information:

How to Work from Home

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/smarter-living/work-at-home-tips-advice.html

How to Stick to a Schedule When You Work From Home
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/smarter-living/work-from-home-schedule.html

6 Ways To Define Your Workspace At Home

https://www.forbes.com/sites/houzz/2014/01/02/6-ways-to-define-your-workspace-at-home/#4740f7c49e0f

How to Create Boundaries When You Work at Home

https://www.workingmother.com/content/how-create-boundaries-when-you-work-home

Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety

“Headline stress disorder”: How to Cope with Anxiety Caused by the 24/7 News Cycle

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-headline-stress-disorder-do-you-have-it-ncna830141

Top 8 Meditation Apps to Use at Work
https://hrtrendinstitute.com/2020/02/25/top-8-meditation-apps-to-use-at-work/

Coronavirus: How to Stay Healthy and Productive When Working from Home

https://nesslabs.com/working-from-home

Remote Work Advocates Warn Companies About COVID-19 Work-From-Home Strategies

https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2020/03/05/ironically-remote-work-advocates-warn-companies-about-covid-19-work-from-home-strategies/#511194d02051

Microsoft Teams Saw a 500 percent Increase in Usage Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-teams-saw-a-500-percent-increase-in-usage-due-to-coronavirus-outbreak/

This information has been provided as an informational resource for RPAG clients and business partners. It is intended to provide general guidance, and is not intended to address specific risk scenarios. Regarding insurance coverage questions, each specific policy must be reviewed in its entirety to determine the extent, if any, of coverage available for the impact of the Coronavirus. If you have questions, please reach out to your RPAG contact.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

ACR# 344616 03/20

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