'False Hope' for End to COVID Blinds Clients to New Threats, Advisor Says

August 16, 2021

Always be ready for the next crisis. Retired U.S. Army Captain Christopher Manske steadfastly abided by that tenet serving in Germany and Bosnia for five years.

As a 21-year financial advisor, he now applies the same perspective to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The more we hold onto the false hope of ‘an end’ to COVID, the less ready we’ll be for what’s coming as things change,” the founder and president of Manske Wealth Management argues in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

COVID-19 won’t “be over” and “behind us,” maintains Manske, 49. “It’s going to be around just like the flu. These viruses aren’t going to disappear. It’s not accurate to say ‘when this is all over’ about COVID.” 

Nonetheless, he contends that the coronavirus now “has a lot less influence over the market” since it has already been priced into it.

After 12 years as a top Merrill Lynch advisor post-Army retirement, Manske opened his own RIA nine years ago in Houston. 

He focuses primarily on the consulting industry, energy and retirement planning. AUM: nearly $400 million.

Author of “The Prepared Investor: How to Prevent the Next Crisis from Affecting Your Financial Independence” (2020), Manske’s current recommendation to clients is to change their focus from how COVID is affecting their investments to “what’s really affecting investments.”

That is: “Inflation will become our biggest enemy during the next 5 to 10 years,” he predicts.

In the interview, the CFP discusses his optimistic outlook for the volatile market during the rest of this year and the sectors he likes.

In opining on reasons behind the nation’s unexpected labor shortage, a major one, he says, is that by providing stimulus payments, the government ”overestimated” the pandemic’s “danger” to businesses.

ThinkAdvisor held a phone interview with Manske on Aug. 11. Speaking from Houston, he called the issue of whether to raise interest rates “a pickle” for the Federal Reserve, remarking that, in view of the huge national debt, “some say the government is manipulating things to its benefit.”

Here are highlights of our conversation:

THINKADVISOR: When I interviewed you in December 2020, you argued that investors were too “giddy” over emergency authorization for COVID-19 vaccines and warned of an uncertain future.

Now, with delta-variant cases spiking among the unvaccinated, does this seem like a repeat of what happened in the pandemic last year?

CHRISTOPHER MANSKE: It does seem like we’re experiencing déjà vu with the nation and maybe even the world reeling from the fact that the virus has mutated. The need to vaccinate remains the same.

I’m very much against language that talks of “an end” to COVID-19. There won’t be “an end.” COVID is going to be around, just like the flu.

A lot of the messaging is tied to, “When this is over” or “When this is behind us.” 

We’ve got to move past that because the more we hold onto that false hope of “an end,” the less ready we’ll be for what’s coming as things change.

The idea that we’re going to get back to how it used to be “when this is all over” is [unrealistic] — no, we’re not. 

We need to get to a point where after we’ve had our vaccinations and an annual booster shot, we’re as [protected] as possible against this virus.

But many people still don’t want to take the vaccine. Will they transition to the side of health and positivity?

A lot of people will get vaccinated and get a booster shot, and a lot won’t. As a nation, we’ll get to a, sort of, equilibrium just like we have with other viruses and community health issues.

Is the future just as uncertain now as it was last year? 

It’s very uncertain. But the coronavirus has a lot less influence now over the stock market from a crisis standpoint. It’s been priced into the market.

What are you talking to your clients about when it comes to investing?

I’m asking them to consider changing their focus from COVID affecting their investments to what’s really affecting investments.

Right now, that’s inflation — the value of the dollar going down — and the really crazy uptick in real assets like real estate and other commodities.