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“Just know that we need to proceed with caution. The moral of the story... We're living through a time of very rapid change that will go down in the history books.”
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Be rational. Be logical. Be cautious.
Those were the major takeaways from a special webinar, “Personal Finance During a Pandemic,” presented Wednesday, October 7, by the Harbert College of Business Department of Finance.
Hosted by Lecturer Dr. Damion McIntosh, Harbert College finance alums Tim Strader, Analyst at JP Morgan, and Sean Conley, Corporate Relationship Manager at BBVA in Jacksonville, Florida, advised viewers how to better manage a budget and offered investment strategies.
Dr. Damion McIntosh, Lecturer, Harbert College Department of Finance.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, 7.9 percent of Americans were unemployed in September – down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April, but still higher than at any month since 2012. Concerns of pandemic-related layoffs or businesses closing remain legitimate. To be safe, how should one prepare?
McIntosh, who specializes in financial institutions and markets, recommends to make a budget – and save, when possible.
“What does this budget involve?” he asked. “This budget involves you being able to identify what your income is likely to be for the future and what expenses you would likely incur for the future. Being able to identify these areas of income and expenses puts you in a better position to sort of manage your personal finance. So the best approach is to be able to develop a mechanism to monitor and track your expenses.
“Being able to identify and monitor your expenses puts you in a better position to inform your budget. It allows you to identify, especially over a preceding month, what your expenses were and put you in a better position to budget your expenses for the next month.”
Tim Strader, 2016 Harbert College graduate in Finance, Analyst at JP Morgan.
Strader suggested to “Always have cash on hand when you need it.”
“Bills aren’t typically paid in securities,” said the 2018 Harbert College alumnus. “You can’t take a stock certificate and pay your electric bill. It’s good to have a rainy day cash reserve just in case things come up, like a large medical bill, job loss, or crisis. Savings accounts today are at crazy low interest rates.”
But what about the financial markets? “Some of the wealthiest people we work with, even the financial professionals, get nervous about the markets,” he added. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about putting your own money out there. But once you decide to move forward and invest in the markets, set a plan and stick with it. It pays to say invested. You don’t want to get stuck sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time.”
Conley, who earned a finance degree from the Harbert College in 2016, believes the markets are swimming in uncharted waters, for those actively involved. Opportunity is there, but proceed with caution.
Sean Conley, Corporate Relationship Manager at BBVA and 2014 Harbert College graduate in Finance.
“The stimulus package passed to get us out of a global financial system meltdown (2008) was $836 billion over a 10-year period,” he noted. “Contrast that to today, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that we're going to spend $2.8 trillion under the Cares Act over two years … between 2020 and 2021. Y'all, we're in uncharted territory. That's like the 2008 stimulus package on steroids. Pretty much every traditional take on economic theory and market theory is out the window. So how that articulates into our financial markets now? We had 12 years of near zero interest rates. Trillions of dollars injected into the economy, both through consumers and through businesses.
“This year to date, amidst the pandemic, the IPO market has raised more than $92 billion in capital in an economic recession. $92 billion. In 2019, when we were in a boom, there was $40 billion raised in the IPO market. Equities are booming amidst a global recession. There's market fluctuations and valuations that are defying explanations. So it's very important now more than ever, if you're preparing to invest and save money and invest in the market to know what you're doing. Be logical. Be rational. Do not be afraid. But just know that we need to proceed with caution. The moral of the story... We're living through a time of very rapid change that will go down in the history books.”
The series continues on Wednesday, October 14, at 11 a.m. as Harbert College Department of Management Chair Dr. Michael Wesson, Bert Bean, 2004 alum and CEO at Insight Global, and Alexandria Harper, 2020 Harbert College graduate and District Manager Trainee at ALDI USA, will discuss how to lead virtual teams from a variety of perspectives.