A message from the President of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel

Our valued clients,

It is astounding how dramatically the world can change in just a few weeks. Here are my thoughts during this troubled time.

Nature abhors a vacuum

When I last wrote to you in the latter half of March, the arrival of a strange new and invisible health threat was causing confusion and uncertainty. People everywhere were experiencing fear and a deep-seated angst followed by an almost overwhelming sense of grief as the virus’ toll grew.

At that point, global equity markets were in turmoil, as they reflected in minutes and hours the impact of a global economic shutdown. COVID-19 infections were growing throughout Canada and the U.S., while Italy and Spain remained at the epicentre of the outbreak.

Governments were also gearing up their massive new support programs and centralbanks were slashing interest rates, working together in a desperate effort to offset the economic impact of social distancing and isolation measures, while also trying to address financial fears of employees and business owners.

The darkest hour is often just before dawn

Those initial days of the pandemic were full of speculation, and sometimes, as we have discovered, even misinformation – mostly well-intentioned, in rare circumstances not.

Gradually, however, we are beginning to learn more about this particular coronavirus – and as such, we are learning to cope, if only slightly so. We have recognized that our government is led by knowledgeable, hard-working and well-intentioned people who are striving to help and secure us from harm. Our health officials’ directives to engage in social distancing and self-isolation, along with the government’s restrictions, seem at this moment to be working: “the curve” of infections is flattening to a level that our health care system can handle the influx ofpatients successfully. Experts suggest that we appear to be past the worst of the pandemic’s impact, and thus have reason to feel some glimmers of hope.

Global markets also appear steadier (save for near term oil contracts), at least for now, and have even regained a significant amount of the losses that they initially incurred. While the economy continues to contract in the face of the lockdown measures, the efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact have been well received, and gradually money is getting to those who need it. Again, it’s not perfect, and by no means is it the end of those efforts, but it is hard not to be impressed with the overall coherence of Canada’s response to the crisis.

In case we had forgotten, we now know without a doubt who our heroes are

Throughout this difficult period, we have seen no end of what human beings are capable of when asked to do the right thing and join together to fight a common threat. Yes, there have been disappointments, but they have been overwhelmed by the remarkable acts of kindness and thoughtfulness we are seeing every day. No one wants to be confined to their homes, unable to spend time with their loved ones, friends and colleagues, and doing what they enjoy. But we are doing it – and again, it seems to be working, offering some much-needed hope.

However, what has been most striking and inspiring is the work of those who daily risk themselves and even their families to help the rest of us: everyday, health care workers, our amazing warriors in this battle, are delivering the care and support thatwe so often take for granted; and so many others, including the grocery store workers, food delivery people, the government workers on the front lines; and, of course, our regular super hero first responders: the police, fire fighters and EMS. I would also add to that list the many businesses and their employees in every sectorwho remain in place every day to keep the basic wheels of commerce and service going. We are all awed and humbled by them, and we are deeply thankful for them.

We will continue to move forward

Throughout this extraordinary period, I’m reminded of the words of Winston Churchill: “If you are going through Hell, don’t stop – keep going!” And we are still going – together, as a nation, as human beings, as neighbours, friends and family, and as your trusted advisors, in good times and in difficult ones, too. At RBC PH&N Investment Counsel, we are monitoring the economy and the investment markets carefully, and ensuring that your portfolio continues to be well managed and working to support your life and financial goals. As we learn more about the virus and its economic impact, we will continue to use that information and insight to advise and guide you.

We are very proud to serve you

Incredibly, many organizations like our own transitioned in mere days or a few short weeks from in-person, bricks-and-mortar businesses to virtual ones in order to continue to serve their clients. In our case, I am very proud to say that RBC PH&N Investment Counsel did so seamlessly, and we are and will remain 100% operationaland open for business for you, our valued clients, until it is safe for us to return to our physical locations.

We know that at times like these you want to work with a partner that you can trust and rely on. RBC Royal Bank and RBC PH&N Investment Counsel can ensure that your savings and investments – as well as your banking – are safe and secure. Your Investment Counsellor would be happy to discuss how you can most easily access your banking and investment accounts safely, securely and conveniently.

Of course, your Investment Counsellor and their team remain available to you when you need them, ready to provide you with the counsel and expertise you deserve and expect and to ensure your long term plans remain intact. I am so deeply proud of their commitment to you.

And, I thank you – for your time in reading this letter, for your trust and patronage, and for continuing to engage with our team of professionals through this period. It seems odd but also wonderful that by being apart, our shared experience of isolation is bringing us together in a different way, perhaps in a more human way. Most importantly, as always, please remain safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

signature of Vijay Parmar

Vijay Parmar, CPA, CA
President
RBC PH&N Investment Counsel