Oil prices send advisors into crisis mode

Oil prices send advisors into crisis mode

Oil prices send advisors into crisis mode In the face of that 2% drop in Canadian stocks, advisors seem all but united in the advice they're offering nervous clients. And that advice may surprise you.

“Is Suncor going out of business?” quipped Toronto financial advisor Greg Hall, with RBC Dominion Securities. “It seems like oil is being pushed to $60 per barrel and it probably doesn't help that fund managers want out of the sector at all costs. A lot of bargains to be had if one is patient and willing to stomach some volatility. Is Suncor going out of business? I think not.”

Blame for yesterday's volatility is being laid at the feet of sagging oil prices, with investors trying to shunt related securities. Many advisors, however, have tried to counter that, suggesting clients hold tight or even go bargain hunting in a sector that's bound to rebound.

But that's been a hard argument to make. 

Yesterday’s 340-point drop came in large part because of continued pressure on oil prices, down 40% since June and lower than they’ve been since October 2009.

Morgan Stanley suggests prices could hit as low as $43 by the middle of 2015. If that comes to fruition advisors might be smart to hang on to their client’s cash until sometime next year in order to take advantage of even lower prices in the future.

Hall is definitely looking to go on the offensive with those clients whose investor profiles are able to handle the volatility and risk currently associated with oil prices.

Brent Vandermeer, who operates out of the nation’s capital, has been protecting his client’s backside for some time now “… using Put options on the index positions for 10 months now… if the move increases to 10% down, the strike prices will be hit and we’ll be protected.”

That’s his defensive game.

On offence Vandermeer remarked, “On energy, I’d hold adding quality names for a little while as the knife seems to be falling further than initially thought… but there are some very attractive positions out there now. Buyers get ready. Be patient.” Employing a strategy similar to Warren Buffett, the Ottawa advisor is getting ready to rush in when everyone else is rushing out.

For our third advisor reaction we went out west to Victoria to Sybil Verch, a Raymond James advisor who definitely understands the markets.

She told WP, “A good advisor will protect clients from their emotions in order to do what’s right… A disciplined approach to money management will allow investors to take advantage of market pull-backs.  My advice... don’t try to time the markets, you can’t. Instead, focus on a longer term strategy and rebalance when market opportunities arise.”

Lastly, we finish with the wise words of WP Top 50 Advisor Bill McElroy of Manulife Securities:

“I think this is irrational selling because of oil prices and Chinese data indicating a weakening of their economy. Sometime later next year I am hoping we see oil prices come back up as I do not think many of the OPEC countries can produce oil at these prices for long.”