What’s Being Done to Help People Financially During the Pandemic

By Sylvia Kwan

The world keeps changing quickly. As China loosened lockdowns with a continued decrease in local cases of COVID-19, one in five Americans are now ordered to stay at home to slow the spread of the disease. And markets are moving quickly as well, with the stock market declining 15% last week, having turned from a bull to a bear market in record time.

At the same time, the bond markets and the US dollar have benefited during 2020 from investors looking for safety, with US Treasuries up some 3.5% and the US dollar having its best week since 2008.

A woman looking at clouds that also look like volatile market charts.

Unfortunately, there will almost certainly be continued market volatility, as policy makers roll out additional actions to fight the economic slowdown and markets vote in real time on whether those actions go far enough. It’s almost like a conversation between the markets and policymakers, in a rapid feedback loop.

Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening — and what we’re doing here at Ellevest to help you with your money right now.

What’s being done to help people financially?

Ellevest is here to help

Our financial planners, investing experts, and career coaches are here to help you with the guidance you need.

We are committed to answering all of your money questions personally as they come in. Whether they are questions about investing, financial planning or your career, please send them to We’ll respond to you directly. We’re anonymizing and answering them here, so you can see what other people are asking.

We’re holding Instagram Live Office Hours with our experts several times a week, again to answer your questions. This week:

  • Tuesday March 24, 2020, 3 PM EDT: How to make career decisions in times of uncertainty, with lead career coach Stephenie Girard

  • Wednesday March 25, 2020, 3 PM EDT: Is now a good time to invest? Investing Qs answered, with Sallie Krawcheck and senior portfolio manager Ankur Patel

  • Thursday March 26, 2020, 3 PM EDT: What a recession / market volatility means for my retirement, with financial planner Rachel Rabinovich

We have free Zoom workshops to help you learn more.

  • Wednesday, March 25, at 8 PM EDT: How to think about stock market volatility, with our lead financial planner Rachel Sanborn Lawrence. Sign up for free here.

We’re constantly creating more resources from our experts to help you:

What this can mean for your investments, if you’re a client

First of all, we plan for markets like this: At Ellevest, we use realistic market scenarios to create your portfolio recommendations. This includes the possibility that a downturn as severe as the one we’re seeing now could happen at any time. That’s why the portfolios we create for you are highly diversified — with money in different types of investments that move differently from one another — so that all your eggs aren’t in one basket.

We are monitoring your portfolio and rebalancing as needed: The market volatility means that your portfolio may have drifted from its target asset allocation (the recommended amount of stock vs bonds vs other types of investments that you own).

At Ellevest, we monitor your portfolio and automatically “rebalance” it back to its recommended target whenever your stocks or bonds drift by 2–3%, depending on your investing goal. We rebalanced more than 12,000 client portfolios this past week.

Rebalancing often means buying into asset classes that have declined (and gotten less expensive) and selling those that are relatively more expensive to get you back to your target. When that happens, you’re automatically “buying low” or “selling high” — the holy grail of investing — without having to do a thing. That’s a plus when emotion has overtaken the market.

We take your time frame into account in building your investment portfolio: We shift your portfolio recommendations to be more conservative, with fewer stocks and more lower-risk investments like bonds, to help reduce risk as you get closer to your goal date.

Remember that, historically, the market has gone up over the long term. It is important to keep in mind that the markets have gone down like this in the past, and they have recovered every single time. In fact the average annual return in the equity (aka stock) market since 1928 has been 9.7%. Some years were much better (like last year, when the equity market returned 31.2%), and some were much worse (like 2008, when the market was down 36.6%) — but through those ups and downs, the average was a 9.7% increase.

Despite this, it can be tempting to take your money out of stocks during times like this. But if you try to get out of the market when it’s down and go back in when it’s up, you risk missing the good days. If you had missed the ten best days in the stock market over the past 20 years, your return would have been cut in half.

So it’s “time in the market” rather than “timing the market” that has historically worked best. And that’s why we generally recommend that if you have a long-term investing goal, the best thing to do is keep going and let time do its thing.

We’re here for you: If you have questions about your portfolio or any money or career issue, please reach out at We’re in this together.


© 2020 Ellevest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All opinions and views expressed by Ellevest are current as of the date of this writing, for informational purposes only, and do not constitute or imply an endorsement of any third party’s products or services.

The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.

Forecasts or projections of investment outcomes in investment plans are estimates only, based upon numerous assumptions about future capital markets returns and economic factors. As estimates, they are imprecise and hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

Investing entails risk including the possible loss of principal and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.

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Sylvia Kwan

Dr. Sylvia Kwan is the Chief Investment Officer of Ellevest. She researches and oversees Ellevest portfolios and develops the algorithms behind Ellevest’s investment recommendations.