Navigating Financial Insecurity

The federal tax filing deadline might be delayed until July 15, but many of us can’t help thinking about our finances this month. It’s difficult to stay calm in the face of stock market volatility, higher unemployment and a longing for business as usual. 

Looking for some perspective, we asked area financial experts how they are helping their clients navigate the current uncertainty.

“We’ve all been hard at work trying to stay ahead of the situation and provide financial relief options for our members, as well as helping them continue to access their money,” said Joe Mecca, a Coastal Credit Union spokesman. 

“We are now offering new emergency relief loans and loan modifications,” he said, “including deferring payments for up to 120 days with no late fees, to help members make ends meet.”

As of Thursday, April 9, Coastal had modified more than 1,100 loans and 100 mortgages, and made $110,000 in emergency loans, according to Mecca. 

While the current situation is painful, it will eventually pass, experts say. In the meantime, financial professionals say people should talk about their fears to a trusted adviser.

“We have been in constant communication with our clients during this crisis via phone, email, and video conferencing, which we feel is extremely important during a time with so many unknowns,” said Terry Wiles, branch manager at Stonegate Financial in Cary

The firm’s advisers have been reviewing financial plans to make sure clients are still on track to meet their goals and adjusting investments when needed. They are also reassuring clients that taking the long view, while challenging, will yield better results.

“If you have a properly diversified portfolio, we believe long-term you will be rewarded for sticking through this period of discomfort,” Wiles said. “You’ll more than likely be very happy three to five years from now, if you invest or continue investing throughout this crisis. History has proven this time and time again. Warren Buffett has a saying, ‘Be greedy when others are fearful,’ and right now many people are fearful.”

It’s also important to help clients focus on their goals, says Michelle Madlala, client services manager at McClaugherty & Associates-Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Raleigh.

“We always make sure they understand how their goal is doing in perspective of these market fluctuations,” she said. “Once people understand that we still expect them to be able to achieve their long-term goal, they tend to feel much more confident about their accounts relative to what is happening in the world.”

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