“She broke what?!” I exclaimed. It was two summers ago, and I was trying to find out what had happened to my mother, who was 96 at the time, from a harried health-care aide who was phoning me while trying to assist a 911 crew moving Mom to the ambulance.

Mom had slipped getting out of bed in the morning and broken her neck. Miraculously, this member of our “Greatest Generation” recovered fully. Throughout her four months of physical therapy, Mom would end each visit with the same pronouncement: “This too shall pass.”

Four months later, Mom was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Now 97, she was labeled “DNR.” After surviving an all-hands-on-deck, code-blue event (with me at her bedside), she was placed in hospice. Her comment: “This too shall pass.”

It did, and she returned home three months later.

Her high school sweetheart, of the same age, went into the hospital at the same time with the flu, which turned into pneumonia. He also returned home, but he then passed away from complications a few months later.

Today, Mom is two months shy of 99. She is back in her assisted living home. It’s under quarantine. She has not been able to visit with her family, including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in more than a month.

Despite visiting almost daily (through a great app called GrandPad), I can tell she is lonely and starting to get a bit depressed. Yet when I phoned her from the other side of her window on Saturday, as I waved goodbye, she ended the call with “this too shall pass.”

At this point, after decades of listening to her stoic message, which I’m sure she also voiced through the Great Depression and the Second World War, I’ve got to believe her. Our present worldwide war against this invisible enemy “too shall pass.”

The trials of Mom’s generation during those two events were both more frightening and long-lasting than those experienced so far by the generations younger than hers, even including this national disaster. Yet today’s pain is just as raw and just as real, and it is being felt by everyone worldwide to some degree or another.

Yet, as with past disasters, most of us have survived. We are relieved by that but saddened by our losses and grateful for what we have—our lives, our family and friends, our communities, and the resources we’re using to get by.

Financially, many may have lost a great deal:

  • Owners and employees of small businesses that have had to close.
  • Those that have been laid off or furloughed.
  • Investors who could not take the plunging stock prices as they raced to the bottom at the fastest rate in stock market history, who then moved to the safety of money markets, only to now sit and watch stocks starting to gain ground once more … wondering if they should ever invest again.

Although it is right to believe, as Mom does, that “this too shall pass,” such a view should not lull investors into believing that there is no action they should take concerning their investments. The truth of Mom’s declaration does not negate the message her son has so often voiced: “Risk is always with us.”

Hoping for the best; preparing for the worst

You may regret that, once again, you did not avoid the market losses. You may think that the worst is now over, that life and investing goes on. Yet based on my experience, there may never be a better time to add a defensive element to your investment portfolio.

Members of Mom’s generation could have easily stated “this too shall pass” back in 1929, after the first wave of the market plunge. And they would have been right—it did pass. But the Great Depression, and the ensuing stock market volatility, did not end for over 10 years. It took the New Deal and a World War to finally finish it off.

Passive investment strategies such as “buy and hold” only defend against a sudden plunge by initially being diversified into multiple asset classes. Yet, like in past bear markets, diversification was for naught this time as well, as almost every asset class plunged.

Our approach, dynamic risk management, had plenty of other tools to draw upon in addition to asset-class diversification. It used hedging, inverse funds, defensive reallocation, and dynamic strategic diversification to further battle the onslaught of potential losses.

Here at Flexible Plan, we were able to mitigate most of the losses in our client accounts. And most accounts have already begun to move cautiously back into the stock market without their owners having to lift a finger. This computerized, quantitative investing is just one of the services we provide.

It has never been easier to add dynamic, risk-managed investing to your static portfolios. All you have to do is execute our investment management agreement virtually using DocuSign, and we’ll begin the process of transferring a portion of your static portfolio into one of our turnkey Quantified Fee Credit (QFC) strategies: QFC Multi-Strategy Core or QFC Fusion 2.0. From there, we’ll do the rest: dynamic strategy selection, monitoring, and reallocation.

Because these are both QFC strategies, you automatically receive three levels of risk management:

  1. The dynamic risk management employed within the Quantified Funds used in each strategy.
  2. The active management between the funds required by the strategies themselves.
  3. The dynamic allocation employed among the core strategies by the turnkey strategy itself.

The QFC strategies also have our lowest advisory fee structure. The FPI portion of the billed advisory fee can be as low as zero, meaning you would only be billed for your financial adviser’s normal fee.

***

As I have listened to my mom over the years, I have always thought that the phrase “this too shall pass” must have come from the Bible. But with a little research, I found that it came from a Persian fable about an ancient king who had become sad because of the vicissitudes of life.

Being a powerful king, he commanded his wisest subjects to create something to make him feel happy again. After much thought, they produced a golden ring upon which was etched the words “This too shall pass.” The king looked at it and smiled.

The king soon returned to feeling happy again. His kingdom and his subjects thrived. Then he gazed at the ring and once again read its timeless inscription. In that instant, he realized the ring came with a curse: While its words could turn sadness into happiness, they likewise held the power to turn happiness into sadness.

“This too shall pass” is a philosophy all of us should keep in mind and draw strength from during difficult times like these. But remember that the saying has two sides, for it similarly reminds us that the best of times don’t continue uninterrupted either.

“Be prepared” is a motto I also learned to live by as a child. And in a world where “risk is always with us,” being prepared in good times and in bad is essential.

All the best,

Jerry

Jerry C. Wagner is Founder and President of Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd. Formerly a tax and securities attorney, Mr. Wagner recognized early on that technology and hedge fund techniques could be applied to help individuals successfully invest, while managing their downside risk. After spending time pioneering new techniques in market analysis, designing quantitative methodologies, and managing investment portfolios, Mr. Wagner founded Flexible Plan Investments in February 1981.

PAST PERFORMANCE DOES NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS.  Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss as well as profit.  A list of all recommendations made within the immediately preceding twelve months is available upon written request.  Please read Flexible Plan Investments’ Brochure Form ADV Part 2A carefully before investing. View full disclosures.