You can reach us, while we are social distancing
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and coping as best you can during these difficult times.
We just wanted to let you know that we are now doing all meetings online and working from home as much as possible, to help flatten the curve and protect those most vulnerable from COVID-19. You can still reach us on the phone or via email as usual.
Please find below a summary on the financial markets as of last Friday and also an update on the Government announced stimulus packages and banks hardship provisions that could help you financially.
Our advice to you will continue via Adobe Sign as per usual.
If you have any concerns or need to chat about anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Global markets continue to experience record levels of volatility due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This volatility in markets is an indicator of the level of investor uncertainty, which has increased as COVID-19 has spread. Governments around the world are working to swiftly contain it.
Ethical investors with a diversified portfolio have seen a degree of insulation from some of that volatility, particularly in equity markets.
Global markets continue to experience record levels of volatility since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). This volatility in markets is an indicator of the level of investor uncertainty, which has increased as COVID-19 has spread and governments around the world attempt to swiftly contain it.
The breakdown in relations between two major OPEC producers (Russia and Saudi Arabia), resulted in supply increases and a subsequent US$7–US$8 fall in the price of oil as the week began (a circa 20%–30% decline).
There were few safe assets for investors, with virtually all asset classes suffering a setback last week, including defensive assets such as US Treasuries and gold. Most major equity markets have now fallen between 15.0%–25.0% month to date.
Evidence of indiscriminate selling is being met with Central Banks cutting rates and increasing asset purchases through the re-enactment of quantitative easing (which helps stimulate spending when interest rates fail to work).
The most recent policy announcements have been decisive and significantly more coordinated:
- The Reserve Bank of New Zealand reduced interest rates by 0.75% to 0.25%.
- Bank of Canada cut interest rates for the second time in two weeks to 0.75%.
- US Federal Reserve slashed rates by 1.0% to a target range of 0.0%–0.25%, while also instigating fresh rounds of QE up to US$700bn of purchases across the Treasury and Mortgage Backed Security markets.
- The German government has announced a EUR460bn (up to 10% of GDP) fiscal stimulus plan.
- The RBA has announced it will release further policy measures this coming week.
Key initiatives announced by Government
Early access of up to $10,000 from super
Individuals impacted by the coronavirus will be able to access up to $10,000 from their super between mid-April 2020 and 30 June 2020, with potential for a further $10,000 to be accessed in the 2020/2021 financial year. These payments from super will be tax-free.
These payments will only be available to you if you meet the eligibility criteria [see link below]. Many of our business clients will not meet this eligibility criteria but we may be able to talk about other options regarding your super which will provide you with some relief.
To access your super under these measures you will need to apply via https://my.gov.au/ and be able to certify that you meet the eligibility criteria. This will remain the same even if you have a self-managed fund [SMSF] but we emphasis, please do not just take cash from your SMSF!
To be eligible for this you need to meet one of the eligibility criteria below:
- You are unemployed
- On or after 1 January 2020 you were:
- Made redundant
- Had your working hours reduced by 20% or more
- Are a sole trader – whose business was suspended or has had their hours reduced by 20% or more
- Eligible to receive one of the following government payments:
- Youth Allowance for job seekers
- Parenting payment
- Special payment; or
- Farm household allowance
Further information available on the Treasury website at https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Early_Access_to_Super_1.pdf
Relief for Self Funded retirees
Self-funded retirees will have their pension minimums reduced by 50% for 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years to 2% of the fund value. This measure is designed to take the pressure off anyone who doesn’t require access to their pension for personal cash flow. This will help retirees avoid selling down assets and realising losses, instead, it will allow their capital to remain in the market as it recovers.
We saw this measure work effectively during the Global Financial Crisis and we will be reaching out to our clients with their updated pension minimum requirements for the 2020 financial year.
More information available at https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Providing_support_for_retirees_to_manage_market_volatility.pdf
New Coronavirus Supplement Payment
The Government is temporarily expanding the eligibility for income support payments and almost doubling income support payments through the implementation of a Coronavirus Supplement Payment of $550 per fortnight.
To be eligible you must be eligible for:
- Jobseeker payment
- Youth Allowance Jobseeker
- Parenting Payments
- Farm Household Allowance
- Special Benefits recipients
Expanded access to the income support payments and the Coronavirus Supplement will be available to those who lose their job, sole traders, self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn. Asset testing will also be temporarily waived for eligibility to Jobseeker payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker and parenting payments. The ordinary waiting periods of one week has also been waived along with other timing reductions.
Further information is available on Treasury website https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Income_Support_for_Individuals.pdf
Payments to households and lower-income Australians [including pensioners and other social security recipients]
It was originally proposed to pay a once-off payment of $750 to eligible recipients. This will be paid automatically from 31 March.
They have now announced a second payment of a further $750 for those eligible payment recipients and concession card holders on 10 July 2020. This payment will be paid automatically from 13 July 2020.
Payments will be exempt from tax and not count to income tests.
For a full list of who is eligible for each payment see the Treasury website https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Payments_to_support_households.pdf
At this stage, these are only proposals and until they are legislated and receive royal assent we cannot rely on what has been announced. That said, it is proposed that some of the measures are effective immediately so we will have to watch and see how the opposition and minor parties react to the proposals however, we expect there will be full cooperations.
Banks announce support
Banks announce hardship provisions to assist in the recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis. Please check with your own bank, but a summary of the general provisions is outlined below.
Most banks look to be offering the option to defer home loan repayments for three to six months. Under a home loan repayment deferral, customers do not need to make repayments to their home loan for a period of time. Unpaid interest during this period is capitalised, meaning it is added to the customer’s outstanding loan balance to be paid over the remaining loan term.
For customers ahead in their home loan repayments there may be options such as accessing their existing redraw balances or using funds in their offset or deposit accounts. For the majority of customers who pay more than the minimum home loan repayment amount, they can reduce their monthly payments to the minimum repayment amount through internet banking.
Many banks are also offering a reduction in their variable home loan interest rates.