COVID-19 Pandemic: A message from Michelle Seitz, Chairman and Global CEO
We are in the midst of a global health crisis unlike any that most of us have ever witnessed. The human toll of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow as the world increasingly unites to help protect lives and prevent the spread of this virus. At Russell Investments, we are taking all appropriate precautions to protect the safety of our associates and clients around the world.
We are well prepared and equipped for associates to work remotely while managing portfolios, making prudent investment decisions and serving your needs. Over the past two months, we have implemented business continuity plans—first in our Asian offices and more recently in Europe and North America—to ensure that our associates are responsibly protected, and our business continues to run smoothly. We are fully committed to providing the communication, service and investment outcomes you expect from us.
Given the extreme market volatility, there are natural comparisons to the Global Financial Crisis. However, the root cause is different and important: the crisis of 2008-09 was a financial crisis stemming from significant structural impairments in a globally complex interconnected system—this is a global health crisis. It is causing financial market upheaval given the uncertainty of its impact on our global economy. Thankfully, our financial system is far healthier today than in 2008. What governments and central banks are doing now, on an increasingly coordinated basis, is necessary to ensure that a negative feedback loop of financial structural impairments do not amplify the economic and human impact. Although the duration of this pandemic is uncertain, we expect a continued global response with fiscal and monetary stimulus programs to help cushion the economic blow.
Virtually no business is immune to the effects of this crisis but, importantly, a real person is behind every one of these COVID-19 statistics. This human impact will be felt by billions—simultaneous to dealing with the economic impact. We are very likely in the early stages of a global recession, but it is worth the reminder that recessions are a natural part of any economic cycle—especially when the cycle has lasted as long as this one. The depth and length of this recession will depend upon whether local and national governments go beyond broad-based financial stimulus and develop simultaneous targeted programs aimed at heavily impacted industries and small businesses. It's critical this health contagion does not evolve into a deep and long-lasting economic contagion. We can do our part by advocating for programs that put money into the hands of small business owners and individuals who have been especially hard hit and are unable to withstand an elimination of their incomes.
We realize you look to us for guidance during times of uncertainty, and we are here to support you with timely market updates and resources on how these events might impact your portfolios. Although we are temporarily forgoing in-person meetings, we are available to you 24/7 by phone, video and email.
Finally, we stand by you as fellow humans and global citizens to do our part to slow the spread of this virus and give our front-line workers, health care providers, and suppliers time to help us all. Thank you for your ongoing trust in our firm. We wish you and your family well.
With care and support,
Chairman and Global CEO, Russell Investments