May 2020 IssueLong scroll reading

What I’m Thinking

By Robert Cochran

David asked each of MFO’s traditional contributors to share a few words about what we’ve been thinking as we watch events, both near and distant, personal and political, transpire.

I think I’m …

  1. Thankful to be retired and financially OK.
  2. Concerned for so many working families that suddenly have no jobs.
  3. Grateful to live in a state (Ohio) with a governor and health director who are action-oriented.
  4. Fearful that the hordes of annuity salespersons disguised as financial advisors will convince pre-retirees to hand over their retirement money for fat commissions.
  5. Confused trying to wear a mask at the same time I also wear eyeglasses and hearing aids. After all, my ears can only hold up so much.
  6. Feeling subdued about the investment advisory-only businesses in the country and how they might suffer a loss of clients once again.
  7. Feeling good about fee-only financial planning companies that offer different levels of services.
  8. Especially worried about the near-term financial viability of performing arts organizations, whose performances have been canceled for the foreseeable future.
  9. Happy to see that most people wear masks when they are out and about in grocery stores.
  10. Troubled by the high percentage of people who work in the service industries, who seem overlooked or forgotten by those who are deciding when restaurants, bars, health clubs, and salons might ever open.

True to my own retired nature, I have not spent one second looking at my portfolio since the end of February. There are myriad reasons, but the ones that count are:

  1. I have reasonable faith that the markets will become less volatile, as the economy starts to pick up, employment picks up, and whatever the new normal is going to be is somewhat defined.
  2. My retirement philosophy is to only worry about those things that I can actually affect. I can do nothing about the stock and bond markets, so if I have an allocation mixture with which I have been comfortable, there is no use spending sleepless nights. Finally,
  3. I am not using my portfolio for current income. This is a true blessing, and I realize, a luxury many retirees do not have.

Like most retirees, we have had numerous trips/vacations canceled. Our health club is closed. Even if we want to get out and about, little is open currently. We found out yesterday that our annual trip to Canada for the Stratford Festival has been put on hold. We did have four of our close friends over for wine in the back yard this week, social distancing (I am SO tired of that phrase) adhered to. We used to gather at least once a week, but we had not seen each other since February. Even from a distance, it was a delight. You might consider something like this. I know it was a treat for my wife, who has to be way done with me for all this time.

Day Two without sports: Found a young lady sitting on my couch. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.

Physical work is even more important now that many of us have added COVID-19 pounds. I just finished putting down nearly 500 cubic feet of pine bark mulch in our many garden areas. Surprisingly, the old man can still get after it. I hope our readers are making efforts to take long walks, bicycle trips, gardening, and anything else that keeps us retirees moving. We have neighbors who work from home. The only time we see them is when they are taking a smoking break on their front porch, still in their pajamas at 3 in the afternoon. Not criticizing, but really?

In closing, I am sure we will not return to what we thought was normal. Much will be forever changed, some for the good of society, some as real losses. While I don’t pretend to know what those things will be, I know I will somehow adapt to most and complain about the rest. Isn’t that what much of life is about, adapting? Now, I really want to know when the NHL will resume play!

My wish is for good health, the joy of family, and financial security for all MFO readers as we celebrate our 9th year together. Sincere congratulations to our fearless leader, David.

This entry was posted in Mutual Fund Commentary on by .

About Robert Cochran

Robert Cochran is the now retired lead portfolio manager, Chief Compliance Officer, and principal of PDS Planning in Columbus, Ohio and a member of the Board of Directors of Mutual Fund Observer, Inc. Bob’s been a financial professional for the past 31 years, writes thoughtfully and well, and had a stint teaching at Humboldt State in Arcata, a lovely town in northern California. He also serves on the Board for the Columbus Symphony (and was formerly their principal bassoonist) and Neighborhood Services, Inc., one of Ohio’s oldest food banks.