Our April newsletter comes to you at a time of enormous economic uncertainty. At times like these it’s important to have someone to talk to, so we urge you to contact us if you have concerns about your finances. Our phones have been running hot, we have managed to speak with a lot of our clients and will try to touch base with as many as we can over the next week.

Our office is now in lock-down with our team working from home on their brand new laptops we managed to buy in the last 2 weeks. From what we are hearing they are as scarce as hen’s teeth these days. A big thanks to our IT guru Pete for getting the secure remote networks setup quickly for us and it all seems to be running well.

A big thank you also to the team on helping to iron the few teething problems and catching us up to speed with the new technology. Our client’s are loving our new systems and saving on nonessential outings to the post office to return the signed documents!

The health and economic impacts of the coronavirus increased exponentially in March, as did the response of national governments and central banks. As part of a suite of emergency measures, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut the official cash rate twice – first to 0.5 per cent and then to 0.25 per cent – as official rates in the US and Europe were cut to near zero. The RBA also began buying government bonds to bring yields down in line with the cash rate, as well as offering a term facility to banks so they can supply credit to small and medium businesses.

It’s too soon to know if these emergency measures will stave off recession (technically two consecutive quarters of negative growth), but Australia was better placed than many countries heading into the crisis. The Australian economy grew 0.5 per cent in the December quarter, up 2.2 per cent over the year, while company profits rose 8.1 per cent in calendar 2019 to record highs.

Global markets remain extremely volatile. Australian shares fell around 17 per cent in March while US shares fell around 15 per cent. Crude oil prices fell more than 56 per cent as a production agreement between OPEC and other oil-producing nations broke down. Australian wholesale petrol prices fell to a 16-year low, while the national average price of unleaded petrol fell to a 13-month low of 127.6c a litre. The Aussie dollar fell about 5 per cent over the month to just below US62c, after briefly dipping below US56c.

This month we’ve focussed our articles on the New JobKeeper Payment as part of the Government Stimulus Package, some helpful tips on working from home, and a few ideas on how to deal with the stress of the current situation.

For our business clients there is a lot of information to absorb, some of it appears conflicting and confusing. Monday’s announcements by the government have not yet been drafted as legislation so we are not fully sure of the intricacies but will do our best to sort it out over the next few days. it appears the schemes will impact businesses differently and we are here to help work with you to maximise your eligibility to any assistance.

In the meantime, stay safe and respect social distancing – we are all going through this for a reason. We think of it a bit like electricity – you can’t see it, but it can be deadly!

Stuart Fitzpatrick and Excel Financial Advisors Pty Ltd are authorised representatives of Interprac Financial Planning Pty Ltd AFSL 246638 registered office at Level 8, 525 Finders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information. Investment Performance: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns as future returns may differ from and be more or less volatile than past returns.