Retirement Services: A commentary on the impact of coronavirus


The current financial climate can be daunting, especially in relation to individuals’ retirement accounts, but we would like to take this opportunity to put the situation in perspective. We’ve seen from past economic crises that many individuals make poor decisions with their retirement accounts during and shortly after market downturns. In 2001, we were licking our wounds from the dot-com bubble bursting only to be met with 9/11. From 2007 to 2009 we experienced the Great Recession, the subprime mortgage crisis, and real estate grinding to a halt. Then, in 2018, we had the worst December stock market performance since the Great Depression. During each of these periods, many people began to feel the emotional need to play “catch-up” and be more aggressive with their retirement investments than they were before. This is often a mistake.

If you look at what happened with the investment markets shortly after those periods of time, you’ll see that there was a recovery. But it wasn’t a linear and predictable one, and it certainly didn’t provide clear leading indicators on how to capitalize on it. Usually, institutional investors are able to capitalize on individual investors’ lack of market timing and emotional reactions.  

Now we have the coronavirus. The natural knee-jerk reaction at the beginning is to become ultra-conservative. Then as things recover, the emotional pull is to become more aggressive than you ever have. Though this might work for some, and downturns in the market can present potential opportunities to build wealth, we believe people need to take a long-term approach to their retirement accounts. 

The adjustments individuals should consider making today are in the diversification of their retirement accounts, not their risk-reward profile. Having a diversified portfolio with many different asset classes and exposures that are not correlated to each other helps give your retirement account the ability to continue to allow you to save for retirement. By having some investments that are not affected by the next disaster, or that may even benefit from it, you should be able to make small adjustments to your portfolio to take advantage of the situation with the goal of increasing your returns over time. With retirement account investing, it’s important to keep your eyes on the long-term horizon. 


A Yieldstreet IRA helps in times like these because alternative investments typically have a low correlation to the stock market. Having income-generating investments during an economic downturn also allows you to “hold your breath” and not have to sell securities at what could be a low point. Very few people actually end up lucky enough to pick the exact low point of any market decline. What is most important is to choose a steady investment philosophy and stick with it through good times and bad. 

Here are a few things to consider: 

  • If you have cash to invest, look for opportunities and start building positions in investments you see value in over time. 
  • If you are overexposed to the stock market, look for opportunities to sell and get more involved in alternative investments that are suitable for you. 
  • If you do need to take money out of your retirement accounts, try to do it in a way that avoids the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Distributions from Traditional IRAs will still add to your taxable income, so make this your last resort. Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, employer-sponsored retirement plans allowed you to borrow from your plan up to $50,000 or 50% of the value, but now because of the CARES Act, up to 100% or $100,000 can be borrowed.  This is generally a better option than taking a taxable distribution, but still, avoid this if you can because it reduces your investments that could possibly be recovering. 
  • Remember these times, and plan for the next one by considering if a Roth IRA conversion makes sense for you.  
  • Continue contributing to your retirement accounts like before and be sure to consider alternative investments like Marine Finance, Art Finance, and Real Estate. 

Interested in a Yieldstreet IRA? View our pricing structure and learn how you can take your retirement planning to the next level with a Yieldstreet IRA. For additional questions, reach out to [email protected]

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