Subprime loans, margin lending, hedge fund collapses—for a majority of advisors the storm is still outside their clients’ portfolios.
“If you’ve got a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds and you don’t have too much debt on your house there isn’t much to worry about, yet,” says Greg Ghodsi, a Raymond James broker in Tampa, Florida. That isn’t to suggest Ghodsi hasn’t been busy lately, calling and emailing clients to reassure them he has a game plan as well as moving large sums of their money into safer waters. “In general we were 1 to 2 percent cash going into June, but we’ve been moving that to 10 to 20 percent since then,” he says. He’s also taking advantaged of depressed values to increase his clients’ fixed income positions.
An advisor from UBS says the same. “I’d say that the whole subprime mortgage mess has really had no impact on the securities we own,” he says. He’s just made some minor adjustments to clients’ fixed income investments: “We haven’t owned anything but treasuries in fixed-income for the last few years, and we’ve been buying corporate.”
But talking clients down has become a daily struggle. “ I have a constant stream of phone calls from clients,” says the UBS advisor. To alleviate their fears, he talks to them about the benefits of the diversification in their accounts, and tries to put the recent declines in the context of previous declines. “Which is not very reassuring because we’ve basically gotten back to even,” he says.As for the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut the discount rate by 50 basis points, and to ease the terms of borrowing on Friday, he says it’s not enough to resolve the current crisis in the credit markets. “When the dust all settles, today’s discount-rate cut will serve to raise long-term interest rates, steepen the yield curve and not have much lasting impact on the current credit crisis.”