A message from Chairman Russell Goldsmith and CEO Kelly Coffey
A Message To Our Clients From
Chairman Russell Goldsmith and CEO Kelly Coffey
The coronavirus has claimed thousands of lives worldwide, and our thoughts are with the families of those who have died. We’re also mindful of the many people who are sick, and we wish them a speedy recovery. We are grateful to their caregivers and health care providers, and to the men and women who are working tirelessly through this unfolding crisis. And we commend the scientists and innovators who are working around the clock to come up with lifesaving treatments and vaccines.
We Are Here for You
City National is fully engaged in the fight against this virus. In addition to severely restricting travel and implementing work-at-home policies for our colleagues where possible, we have cancelled or rescheduled a number of events that had been planned for the spring.
We’re doing all we can to protect our clients and colleagues while we continue to meet your banking and investment needs. Our lending, deposit and investment capabilities are fully operational.
City National is open for business. Our Relationship Managers are available to talk with you and ready to help you by phone, video or email. Our strong digital capabilities mean that we can serve you online or through our mobile app. Most of our branches are open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and you can be sure that our branch personnel are practicing strong hygiene measures. For information about the branch nearest you, please visit cnb.com and click on “locations.”
With more than $60 billion in assets, City National is stronger than ever. We have a solid balance sheet, plenty of liquidity, thousands of talented colleagues, and an A+ credit rating from Standard & Poor’s (S&P). But we are more than that. City National also is a part of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), one of the strongest financial institutions in the world.
Our financial strength enables us not only to serve you well, but also to withstand these challenging financial conditions. And that brings us to the economy.
Several weeks ago, economic activity was brisk. The expansion that began 10 years ago showed no real signs of letting up. Then came three shocks in rapid succession.
First, the coronavirus spread around the world and reached the United States. Global economic activity has suffered, and so has the global demand for energy. Second, as the virus began to take its toll on the international economy, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, exacerbated the instability by launching a price war against Russia. Third, the ensuing flight to safety drove the yield on a 10-year Treasury note below 1%.
As the coronavirus spreads, so does its economic fallout. Across the nation and much of the world, small businesses, stores and restaurants are closing. Companies are shortening their hours and laying off workers. Consumer confidence is declining, and many people are worried about their health, their jobs and their ability to get by. We expect U.S. companies to announce widespread layoffs, and unemployment to rise dramatically.
In short, America is heading into a recession. Our gross domestic product (GDP) will decline sharply in the second quarter. In fact, we expect the nation’s second-quarter GDP to decline even more than it did during the 2008 financial crisis.
Based on prior business cycles, and assuming the economy starts to come back on line in May, we think the current downturn will last two quarters. By the fourth quarter of this year, the coronavirus pandemic should peak and, barring any more surprises, the economy should begin to recover. However, the virus will likely continue to have an ongoing impact on the economy and infect additional people in 2021.
The Outlook for Investors
Stark evidence of the swift and powerful economic toll taken by the coronavirus can be found in the financial markets. On Feb. 21, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood near an all-time high of 30,000. By the time markets closed on March 16, the Dow had fallen by close to a third, an historic decline in so short a time.
Investors can absorb plenty of bad news, but they hate uncertainty. And in today’s world, uncertainty abounds. No one knows how far the coronavirus will spread or how long it will last. But most experts agree that it will likely worsen over the coming weeks and even months, and that points to continuing volatility and likely market declines.
City National Rochdale (CNR) is tracking coronavirus developments around the clock. Led by CEO Garrett D’Alessandro, the research team there draws on a wealth of data and commentary to monitor evolving global economic and health conditions and investment opportunities and challenges.
In 2019, CNR began advising its clients to seek more stable asset classes and increase their cash holdings, not because they foresaw current developments but because the economic expansion that began in 2010 was moving into a late-cycle phase that typically calls for investor caution. This year, we continued to build larger cash positions leading up to the pandemic.
Obviously, our outlook remains defensive and, given the volatility of today’s financial markets, we encourage you to review your investment portfolio with our City National Rochdale advisors and private bankers.
We also invite you to join weekly conference calls to learn about how COVID‑19 is affecting the markets. Every Monday at 10:30 a.m. PDT / 1:30 p.m. EDT, you can listen to our investment experts. Details for joining the calls online or by phone are available at www.cnb.com/conference. Replays of the calls are available at https://cnb.wistia.com/medias/inlil91n1q. You can also visit the Insights page at cnb.com, where investment advisors will be providing market commentary as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Where Do We Go from Here?
How long America’s recession lasts will depend to some degree on the federal government’s response to the disease, the public health system and the economy. Sound economic policies can ease the pain of recession and help set the stage for an economic recovery once the threat of the coronavirus begins to subside.
On the monetary front, the Federal Reserve is moving aggressively. In just two weeks, it lowered short-term interest rates by 100 basis points. It also resurrected its crisis-era tool kit of unconventional monetary policies aimed at keeping money moving through the economy.
Of course, central banks are not the first or best line of defense against a medical emergency. That is the responsibility of lawmakers and public health authorities.
As this is written, the Trump administration and Congress are debating an economic stimulus package valued at close to $2 trillion. Its efficacy will depend in large measure upon how long the economy remains shut down by the virus.
Supporting Our Clients and Communities
At this moment, we need to support our clients, colleagues, family and friends. It is a moment that also calls for effective cooperation between government agencies and the private sector.
City National is doing its part. Last week, in light of all that is going on, our colleagues surveyed more than 500 of our clients by phone and talked with many more. Most of the clients we surveyed expressed confidence in their ability to weather short-term disruptions caused by the coronavirus, but they also reported deep concerns about the impact of a prolonged pandemic. Interestingly, while two-thirds reported concern about their personal finances, many more — 83% — said they worry about the impact the virus might have on their communities and local businesses.
City National shares these concerns, and our company fully intends to uphold its more than 66-year tradition of supporting our clients and communities. To that end, we are donating $2 million to charities that will assist small businesses and individuals who are adversely affected by the coronavirus.
RBC has also stepped forward with substantial commitments of its own.
Bringing the coronavirus under control won’t be easy. It will require time, hard work and perseverance. As a society, we will be tested severely, and too many lives will be lost. In the end, though, we will get through this.
Today, most of our colleagues are working from home. We have asked them to take plenty of precautions, and we hope you will do likewise.
Among other things, we urge you to beware of attempts at fraud. Please do not share your personal account information (including user ID and password) with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or text message. City National will never ask for this information, except to verify the identities of clients who contact us directly. If you receive any unusual phone calls, texts or emails claiming to come from our company, please call our security team immediately at (800) 887-1290. Also, be sure to carefully review your monthly statements for any unauthorized withdrawals or transfers. If you have questions, please reach out to your City National relationship Manager.
We appreciate your relationship with us and our colleagues. We are all here for you. We plan to stay in touch with you, and we hope you’ll stay in touch with us. But, by all means, be careful and stay healthy!
City National Bank and
RBC Wealth Management-U.S.