An update: our response to COVID-19 (April 07, 2020)
I hope that this email finds you and your family in good health in these troubled times.
I appreciate that by now you may have received updates from us detailing our efforts to ensure that our colleagues and your portfolios are protected throughout this period of uncertainty. I wanted, nevertheless, to reach out and personally reassure you that Insight is functioning well.
Our response to the challenges created by the crisis has been implemented in two distinct stages. First was the emergency phase when the urgent task was to stabilize the situation. I am pleased to report that our contingency planning and our team’s efforts have allowed us to successfully get through the first stage. Though we had constructed detailed business continuity plans and tested these for a range of possible crisis scenarios over the years, it is quite another thing to implement them at pace. I am pleased that it worked well. As per government guidance, the entire US staff has been working from home; and globally, there is a very small number of colleagues, covering key functions that cannot be fulfilled remotely, working from our UK offices. The infrastructure supporting our new arrangements is working well. As you might expect, there were a few difficult moments during the worst of the market sell-off, but these were managed successfully.
Our objective in the second phase was not about ensuring basic functions and operations, but about adapting our framework and process to the new conditions, in order to operate effectively for a period of still undetermined length. More specifically, our aim was to continue:
- Delivering to you the high-quality investment and service that you expect from us
- Ensuring that our governance processes and discussion forums are well-suited to the new work environment
- Scouting for opportunities in market dislocations to benefit your portfolios or bring to your attention
- Thinking of ways we can help you overcome challenges in this difficult period
We are confident that we can operate effectively in this ‘new normal’ environment for as long as is necessary. While the current market volatility is likely to create stresses within our industry, Insight’s business model is quite resilient to these. Nevertheless, we do recognize that a key difference between organizations that succumb to crisis and those that survive is people. What matters is how they come together during difficult times and how they live up to key values such as doing the right thing, putting clients first, owning the outcome, continuously learning and having a collective sense of success. These have always been our core values and under the current circumstances we are leaning on them more than ever. We are working hard to help our staff work in what may be stressful conditions and are ensuring that we all remain connected on a personal as well as professional level.
It is not my intention to provide a detailed market commentary here; we will do so in more focused notes. Clearly the pandemic will have a severe impact on how our societies and economies function in the near future and will leave its mark well beyond that. We expect market volatility to remain elevated for quite some time.
The vast majority of our investment strategies have been designed to deliver greater certainty of a final outcome and are able to absorb a great degree of mark-to-market change. None of us can be sure how things will develop, but the following principles are always useful in times like these:
- Control what you can and maximize resilience by trusting quality and visible cashflows, not risk premia. Investors who hold good-quality assets to maturity can be confident that their long-term goals will be realized.
- If you know the outcome you want to achieve, choose the most secure path for your assets and carefully manage your cashflows.
- Keep some powder dry where you can and wait patiently for opportunities; be a price maker when the market is selling, not a price taker when nobody is buying.
- Perhaps most of all, trust wisdom more than knowledge.
In this time of great collective responsibility, we look forward to continuing to work closely with you to help you achieve your desired goals. I am extremely proud of how my team have responded, especially when many face great uncertainty personally and for their families at this time.
All of us at Insight have always been grateful for the trust you placed in us in allowing us to manage your assets. In these difficult times, we intend to do all we can to earn that trust and look forward to forging deeper ties with you.
Our team and I are at your disposal. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything that we can do within or outside our current mandate.
With my most sincere wishes for your health and safety,
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. Please do take the time to read our responsible investment statement on COVID-19 where we describe our commitment to stakeholders during this period of heightened uncertainty.