FROM OUR PARTNER: LIBERTY
Coronavirus: Prevention is better than cure
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) was reported in South Africa last week, leading to heightened concerns about the spread of the disease in the country and the risk of international travel.
By all accounts, the South African government is making every effort to reduce the risk of the disease spreading. Within Liberty, we’re taking additional precautions to ensure the continued wellbeing of our employees, Financial Advisers and clients.
Liberty has already shared various pieces of information about the virus, its spread and how to reduce your risk through good hygiene practices. Click here to learn more about what we’re doing.
While this is an airborne disease, we encourage good hygiene at all times, especially habitual hand washing and the use of hand sanitisers as a precaution. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so doing the best you can to strengthen your immunity with healthy nutrition, trying to get eight hours of sleep, supplementing with Vitamins D and C – though you should first consult your healthcare practitioner before adding this to your daily medication – and other preventative measures are also imperative.
Our Liberty offices and branches have also been provided with suggested protocols in the event of someone contracting COVID-19, in line with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local government bodies.
International travel may be difficult to avoid and at Liberty we have postponed international business travel to countries where the virus appears to be most active. Staff who are travelling, for personal reasons, to any high risk countries have been requested to work from home for a minimum of 14 days upon their return and to have themselves tested for the virus to ensure a clean bill of health before returning to work.
We want to assure you that we are taking every precaution possible to ensure that we put the health of our staff, Financial Advisers and clients first.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the WHO website or view their Frequently Asked Questions. You can also follow the updates on the Gauteng Department of Health website, which offers sensible and unbiased information.
Jen van Rensburg
Executive: 3rd Party Distribution
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FROM OUR PARTNER: MOMENTUM
Coronavirus: Momentum provides support
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa, we understand that people are concerned. During times like these, the last thing a person needs is to worry about whether one is covered. Momentum reaffirms that our clients are covered, protected and supported – aligned to the specific medical scheme and life insurance products they selected.
Peace of mind with Momentum Life Insurance
We reassure our clients that there are no exclusions on any of our Myriad life insurance benefits (life-, critical illness- and disability cover) with regards to the Coronavirus. This means that our clients’ cover remains intact, regardless of the virus and where they have travelled or intend to travel. We will continue to pay all valid claims.
Covered by Momentum Medical Scheme
1. Coronavirus is covered
Momentum Medical Scheme will cover the cost of diagnosis and treatment for confirmed COVID-19 cases. We will cover private hospitalisation when a member with a confirmed diagnosis is symptomatic and requires hospitalisation in terms of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) protocols for COVID-19.
2. Treatment is aligned to WHO and NICD protocols
South Africa is part of the WHO and we manage pandemics in line with international protocols. The NICD, that works closely with WHO, manages situations like this for our country. This means that for any patient who is tested, the swab sample will need to be sent to the NICD-accredited laboratories. Based on the results of those tests, NICD will recommend the medical process for each patient, together with the treating doctor. If the member is infected and presents as symptomatic, they may suggest isolation, most probably at the patient’s home. However, the NICD has also established hospitals in each province to assist patients and manage the quarantine process. Momentum Medical Scheme members may however use any private hospital, that meets the requirements/protocols for quarantine and treatment, as published by the NICD.
3. Medical cover through your employer
For corporate employer groups who offer Momentum Health insurance solutions to their employees, these employees are also covered for treatment of the virus, within the parameters of their benefits.
4. Free access to Hello Doctor for Momentum Health medical scheme members – 24/7
Hello Doctor gives members of most medical schemes administered by Momentum Health Solutions free cell phone and digital access to a qualified doctor 24/7, 365. This is the ideal tool for any member to learn more about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of a virus such as corona.
5. Access to information
It is important to prevent and not believe misinformation. The WHO and the NICD continue to provide valuable insight and updates regarding the virus and how it is spreading globally. Their dedicated websites are a great source of information, having taught us that the main symptoms are fever, a dry cough and fatigue, often followed by muscle aches, nasal congestions and sore throats – very similar to flu symptoms. Their data shows us that the majority of people around the world who have contracted the virus suffer mild conditions.
There are members who are a higher risk of contracting the virus and where the symptoms may be more severe. Any person who has a compromised immune system, such as elderly people and people with chronic health conditions or lung problems, would be at a higher risk.
Follow these steps to minimise your chances of contracting coronavirus:
- The first is to regularly wash your hands.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Reconsider your travel arrangements, especially to countries where outbreaks of the virus have been reported.
- Seek out credible sources of information, such as the WHO, as misinformation is more prevalent than ever before.
Momentum continues to monitor the situation in accordance with the guidelines as set out by The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and we will continue to keep you updated. We caution our clients and all South Africans against false information.
FROM OUR PARTNER: SANLAM
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread unabated, global and local equity markets have sold off aggressively from the highs recorded on 19 February this year. Global equities are now trading 18% off their highs. South African equities haven’t been able to escape the panic selling and are now trading 21% lower in dollar terms. What we’re seeing is behaviour typically associated with a bear market.
This ‘bear market’ behaviour has also spilled over to other financial markets. The decline in the oil price has led to Saudi Arabia ‘breaking ranks’ in OPEC – the country has indicated it will turn open the proverbial taps and offer additional crude for the foreseeable future, essentially flooding the market. In response, US treasuries have firmed from already high prices – yields on 10-year treasury bonds have strengthened from 1.6% late in February to 0.5% currently.
Investors are obviously deeply troubled by these events. At Sanlam Private Wealth, we craft portfolios that deliver inflation-beating returns – we therefore strongly believe that a clear perspective on macro events like the coronavirus, combined with consideration for the valuation of financial assets, should continue to drive our investment strategy, even during the most uncertain times.
Our perspective on the global sell-off
We’ve said for some time now that globally, we’re in an advanced stage of the economic upcycle and the equity bull market – over the past decade, global equities have gained more than 10% per annum. We’ve also cautioned that valuations are elevated, which is generally associated with higher risk. It’s important to note, however, that – unlike previous mature bull markets – equity prices on average are not in bubble territory.
Towards the end of a cycle, assets do become more vulnerable. We’re therefore currently marginally underweight in equities in our multi-asset class portfolios, and we have a 20% cash exposure in the Sanlam Global High Quality Equity Fund. This hasn’t until now been the most popular of approaches, especially not in the bull market of 2019.
Enter the coronavirus…
A macro ‘event’ like the coronavirus is what’s known as an external shock in financial markets. And it’s not unusual for such a shock (another example is higher oil prices) to bring a bull market to an end. So what we’ve seen is stocks that are more sensitive to economic cycles, coming under severe selling pressure as the external shock triggers bear market behaviour. There’s of course no rationality associated with current investor behaviour – people are selling because they’re fearful.
It’s very different to the GFC
It’s crucial to realise that what we’re currently witnessing in global markets is NOT the same as the 2007/2008 global financial crisis (GFC), which was triggered by a banking crisis which shook the very foundation of the global financial system and presented enormous challenges to economic policymakers. In short, many argued ‘the system’ was broken.
This time around, although we’re experiencing a severe external shock, the financial system is not under threat. It does, however, have cyclical economic consequences – global economic activity is likely to come under severe pressure in Q1 and Q2 of 2020. The world may even go into recession, and negative investor sentiment is likely to prevail.
However, once the recovery kicks in, which it always does, it will be business as usual. If the recovery is for whatever reason more pronounced than it was after previous similar shocks, risky asset prices are likely to recover even sooner.
Impact on investments
First, it’s too late to panic – the sell-off has simply been too severe. In our view, now is not the time to reduce risk in our clients’ portfolios, no matter how scary the markets appear. The proverbial horse has already bolted – to sell off equities out of fear in the current climate could prove disastrous. Many shares are trading well below their true value (intrinsic value) and it just wouldn’t make sense to sell these assets at material discounts.
Second, there is no need to rush into bargain hunting mode because prices are falling. The news flow is likely to continue to dictate investor sentiment over the short term, and we should expect volatility for the foreseeable future. We do believe, however, that it’s time to put on our buying caps. At Sanlam Private Wealth, we will – in our usual considered way – look into acquiring shares that have been sold off for the wrong reasons.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
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