The collapse of three US banks and the demise of Credit Suisse have rattled investors across the globe.
And while the crisis has played out in the US and Europe so far, the interconnected nature of the global financial system means investors in Asia and Australia share concerns about the safety of their deposits and investments.
We spoke to personal finance experts about how to manage your money — and your stress levels — during these volatile times. For Jarrad Brown, a financial planner at Global Financial Consultants in Singapore, now is the time to assess your risk tolerance.
“Everyone tends to be a very aggressive investor when markets are going up — we all enjoy consistent, positive returns,” he said. “But it's when the markets decline that we really discover our true comfort level, or true tolerance, when it comes to volatility and risk.”
Are my deposits safe?
Last week, S&P Global Ratings said Asian lenders were in a relatively good spot, and that only a “significant escalation” in the crisis would change its view.
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Most countries in Asia have a deposit insurance system in place. You can check here whether your country has such a guarantee.
Here’s a quick roundup — but it’s worth noting that each system has its own intricacies, so it’s a good idea to read the details on the various websites.
- Hong Kong protects deposits up to HK$500,000 ($85,169.70) per customer per bank or financial firm.
- Singapore insures up to $75,000.
- Malaysia covers up to 250,000 ringgit ($74,901.95).
- Australia has a government-backed safety net for up to A$250,000 ($223,280.77) per account holder.
- South Korea covers up to 50 million won ($51,144.10).
- Japan’s deposit insurance system guarantees up to 10 million yen ($100,812.20) in principal and interest.
- China has had a deposit insurance program in place since 2015 protecting up to 500,000 yuan ($97,154.60).
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One notable exception is New Zealand, where the government is currently in the process of creating a deposit insurance scheme.
What about my investments?
Try and keep things in perspective because the volatility will probably continue for a while, says Luke Smith, financial planner at Envision Financial Services in Canberra, Australia. As long as you have an appropriate asset allocation for your level of risk, you should be able to get through this period.
“If people can endure what’s gone on through Covid, they can definitely remember that saving for retirement is a long-term proposition,” he said.
David Snelling, a financial planner at Charlton House Wealth Management in Hong Kong, said in the 16 years he’s been advising clients there has always been some sort of macroeconomic headwind causing unease and potentially upsetting investment portfolios.
“My advice to clients is don’t panic and don’t listen to the noise that’s out there,” he said. “There are going to be ups and downs and — it’s maybe a cliche — but investments are for the long term.”
What if I’m still worried?
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If you’re concerned and anxious, it may be time to divest some of the more volatile elements in your portfolio, particularly if you’ve taken on additional risk in real estate, equities or overseas markets, said Smith.
“They should be looking to adjust to a more appropriate mix of assets,” he said.
Brown recommends reviewing the overall risk level of your portfolio and rebalancing until you’re comfortable. If you’re invested in individual companies — whether through bonds, equities or real estate investment trusts — he advises examining their financial position.
“If I’m invested — particularly in small banks or a company where the financials look a little more risky — that might mean there is negative free cash flow, debt levels may be too high, or it might need to be refinanced at higher rates,” he said. “The company may need to raise capital, which I think is going to be a lot tougher now than it was two years ago.”
Are there investment opportunities?
Brown is bullish.
“For investors with a time horizon of at least three to five years, we are advising that this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to be buying or investing in quality companies at discounted levels,” he said.
Snelling agrees that it could be an opportunity to acquire financial and bank stocks at a better price than they were earlier this month.
“It takes a brave investor to suddenly pile into banking stocks right now, but in my view, it does open up opportunities for the long-term investor,” he said.
What’s the worst thing I could do right now?
Panicking and liquidating assets would be an unwise move.
“I think being totally out [of the market] could be a very, very expensive exercise because when things turn, they turn very quickly and you may miss out on a significant amount of upside or recovery in values,” Smith said. “Don’t go down to absolute zero investments and hold all cash.”
Brown cautions against investing in stocks of companies that have suffered a dramatic decline with the expectation that they will bounce back once calm returns to the markets.
“Not everything is going to recover,” he said.