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Finding Confidence in Crisis

When we announced our merger with Savant Capital Management earlier this year, I knew that life was going to be different going forward, at least professionally. Little did I realize just how radically different life would be – for wholly unrelated reasons – just a few weeks after our deal closed.

One of the silver linings of this difficult environment is that it has reinforced that we made the right decision joining forces with Savant. You can tell a lot about a firm’s culture and leadership during times like these, and what we have seen across the organization has far exceeded our already high expectations. This is a group of people I am proud to lock arms with as we serve our clients throughout this crisis and beyond.

This is first and foremost a health crisis. The human toll that this virus has taken (and will continue to take) is devastating and heartbreaking. But it would be irresponsible to not also recognize the economic and financial hardships that are a byproduct of this pandemic. We are already seeing unfathomable spikes in initial jobless claims.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Moments like these are when great financial advisors step up to the plate to provide a steady hand to guide their clients through the storm. While much of this takes place in the form of one-on-one conversations between client and advisor, it is equally important to distribute timely, relevant and useful communications to ALL clients and across several channels. From my perspective, our team at Savant has delivered more than I could have ever expected in this department. So much so that I wanted to share a handful of things Team Savant has put together in recent weeks.

Our investment team has created Savant’s Guide to the Coronavirus chartbook. It contains some great information and data for not only the spread and impact of the virus itself, but also great perspective around how markets have reacted during and after prior crisis events. We’ll be updating this piece weekly for the foreseeable future and sharing it on social media.

We have now conducted three client webcasts and virtual Town Halls. In addition to our prepared remarks, we also opened the most recent one to live client questions. Here is a link to the replay of last week’s Town Hall. We’ll be back for an encore next week.

Our CEO Brent Brodeski shared with CityWire his advice on leading our families, organizations and communities through an economic and health crisis:

My last suggestion is that you embrace gratitude as you provide leadership to others. Compliment people and help them develop confidence in themselves. Reach out to friends you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you care.

Appreciate the simple things. Consider taking 5-10 minutes per day over the next few weeks to make a list of what you appreciate most about the important people in your life. This exercise can greatly increase the value and depth of your relationships. As an added bonus, you’ll feel happier, more confident, and positive during a time when negativity has become a pervasive force.

Leading through the coronavirus crisis (CityWire RIA)

These items are just a sampling of the communications we have provided our clients during this difficult time. A full archive can be found here on our dedicated COVID-19 resource page.

In addition to content from my colleagues at Savant, I’ve been blown away by the quality of shared insights and perspectives from all across the industry. Below I wanted to share the very best of what I have found helpful during these difficult times.


  • I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by mentioning Ben Hunt and Rusty Guinn from Epsilon Theory. The two of them were ahead of just about anybody I can think of in understanding the scope and severity of the situation before most of us even took notice. They have written extensively about the topic on their blog, but make no mistake they walk their talk when it comes to doing their part (and then some) to help combat this crisis. At this stage, they understand how critical it is to get personal protective equipment (PPE) into the hands of healthcare professionals and emergency responders who are on the front lines risking their lives to help those in need. The note below details their end-to-end grassroots distribution efforts through a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Please take a look if you’d like to learn more and support their mission.

Positive Thoughts in a Sea of Negativity

Recessions and Bear Markets: History and Context

Small Business Support

  • Brent Beshore and his firm Permanent Equity are singularly focused on private equity investing in small and medium-sized business, the very companies that are the most at risk during this crisis. They have provided a plethora of resources for owners and operators of small businesses, including an series of essays under the banner “Operating in Limbo: How We’re Thinking About Uncertain Times.” They have also introduced a program called Safe Harbor, a partnership for family businesses weathering the storm of COVID-19. If you are a small business owner (or work with small business owners), I highly recommend following their indispensable insights and expertise.

For Your Ears

I have appreciated how some of my favorite podcasters have kicked it into overdrive the past few weeks, casting aside their standard weekly cadence towards a more frequent and less rigid schedule.

  • Patrick O’Shaughnessy, CEO of OSAM, rounded up experts across the investment spectrum on his Invest Like the Best podcast. In fact, OSAM created a dedicated page on their website to house all of their Coronavirus Crisis related content. I have found these conversations with industry leaders in Credit, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Small Cap Value, Energy and Tail Risk to be incredibly valuable. I highly recommend reading his investor letter “Blizzard, Winter, or Ice Age” as well.
  • If you’re going to panic, you might as well panic with friends, right? Howard Lindzon of the Lindzanity podcast has released nearly 40 (!) conversations with people throughout his vast network in venture, FinTech and beyond in a series he is calling “Panic with Friends.”

Times are tough and life is vastly different today than any of us could have fathomed just a few weeks ago. But we are all in this together and we’re going to get through it together. As it relates specifically to financial markets and your portfolio, I genuinely hope that some of what I have shared resonates with you and provides some semblance of confidence and clarity throughout this particular chapter of your investing journey.

About the author

Phil Huber, CFA, CFP®

Phil is the Head of Portfolio Solutions for Cliffwater, a leading alternative investment adviser and fund manager. Prior to joining Cliffwater in 2024, Phil was the Chief Investment Officer for Savant Wealth Management, a multi-billion dollar wealth management firm. Phil has been involved in the financial services industry since 2007. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He is a member of the CFA Society of Chicago. More about me here. Twitter: @bpsandpieces

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