It is no longer news that Silicon Valley Bank has collapsed like a pack of cards. Quite unsettling is also the uncanny way the whole enterprise unraveled like a Ponzi scheme. Faced with uncertainty and a crisis of confidence, investors went on a withdrawal binge. But how does the crash of a bank for tech startups in Santa Clara, California, that caters to extremely high net worth individuals concern an average Dr. Jones with a little office in Waco, Texas? A lot.
But this piece is not about Silicon Valley Bank or any particular bank for that matter. It’s about paying attention to more than what we do every day. It’s a suggestion to consider diversifying our investment portfolio to include other asset classes like real estate, commodities, and tangible assets whose values are not exclusively dependent on consumer confidence and the vagaries of the market; those sorts of things don’t reach us in medical school.
Of course, there is no foolproof investment option. Even not doing anything and leaving money in the bank is full of its risks besides inflation eating up the value. The alternatives stated also have serious downsides with liquidity issues and not being totally immune to market influence. It’s another option to consider so all our investment eggs aren’t stuck in one proverbial basket. The keyword here is portfolio diversification.
During the market crisis of 2008, many doctors and nurses lost a big chunk of their life earnings following the stock market crash. The same situation also happened to some depositors in failed banks. For example, when the California bank IndyMac failed in July 2008, it, like Silicon Valley Bank, did not have an immediate buyer. The FDIC held IndyMac in receivership until March 2009, and large depositors eventually only received 50 percent of their uninsured funds back.
While customers with deposits of up to $250,000, the maximum covered by FDIC insurance, will be made whole, there’s no guarantee that depositors with larger accounts will get all their money back. That is the sad part.
But since we can’t mitigate the risk of a loss, here are a few tips according to one expert: Diversify your portfolio; have a long-term investment focus and avoid trying to time the market or react to short-term fluctuations; avoid excessive risk-taking; stay informed about market conditions and changes in the economy. Most importantly, seek the advice of a professional who can help you develop an investment plan that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance.
Oh! And the Silicon Valley Bank crash may affect Dr. Jones in ways he may not have envisaged. That’s because the 40-year-old institution with $209 billion in assets was a significant lender for health care and medical device startups. The failure of the bank could have an impact on companies such as Color Genomics, which provides genetic testing services, Guardant Health, which develops liquid biopsy tests for cancer detection, Grail, which focuses on early cancer detection through blood tests, and Glooko, which provides diabetes management tools and software.
The butterfly effect reminds us that even the smallest action can have far-reaching consequences. By diversifying their portfolios, doctors and other investors can protect against market volatility and avoid the devastating effects of bank failures.
Osmund Agbo is a pulmonary physician.