The ASX200 has collapsed by more than 20% in just three weeks since COVID-19 went global. When markets fall so far and fast, it induces a state of panic for many investors. In this episode of The Rules of Investing, I sit down with two very special guests to get their take on the current situation, and to hear what may lay ahead.

The first is Sam Sicilia, Chief Investment Officer of Hostplus. With more than $50 billion of funds under management and one million members, Hostplus is one of Australia's largest superannuation funds. Under Sam's guidance, Hostplus has become the top-performing super fund in Australia over 10 years, according to Superguide.

Also joining us is Marty Thompson, Senior Consultant at Frontier Advisors. After studying science in his undergraduate degree, Marty undertook PhDs in Molecular Cell Biology and cancer research. He's also worked as a research scientist and teacher in virology at Murdoch University. Since starting his Masters of Applied Finance, Marty has worked as a Commercialisation Analyst at Melbourne University, and an Investment Analyst at Starfish Ventures, a leading venture capital firm focused on biotech startups.

In the first part of the episode, we discuss the disease itself, including what we know and don't know, and how the spread of the disease could play out from here. We then turn to discuss the effects that the disease and associated disruptions could have on the real economy. Finally, we discuss the effects on financial markets and individual investors.

"If you have discretionary cash, it's earning zero in a bank account. At the end of the day, unless you need it for a more immediate purpose, the better thing to do is to invest it. Whether it's through a super fund or not, invest it in markets and just do the time.

What's important is that market timing is a loser's game. If you learn to time the market - in and out of it whenever you hear news - unlearning that behaviour is incredibly difficult. Eventually, your luck will run out and you'll hand it all back to markets. Don't play the market timing game." - Sam Sicilia

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Ben Snooks

I remember sitting by during the GFC and watching my super balance at the time halve over a couple of months. It then took a few years to get the balance up to where it was before that. I saw the signs early with this virus outbreak so I sold all of my equities In my super because I didn’t want to sit by and watch my balance drop significantly. I also use a much better super fund than the for profit one I was enrolled into at the time of the GFC. It isn’t that I am only trying to time the market. I don’t want to see my hard work go down the drain. There is no transparency with super funds as to which companies they are holding shares in. I can’t evaluate whether the underlying investment is sound or not over the course of a crisis. The only thing I can do as an individual invested in a public fund is choose to sell or buy at a time I’m comfortable with. I understand the risks of trying to time the market but we can’t ignore the risks of standing by and doing nothing as well.

Catherine Chambers

Agree with Ben on this one. As self funded retirees, we saw it coming and moved into cash during the high and when we saw what was happening in China. It was a scary move for us, but more scary to watch another situation where we could potentially lose so much more. Not making much in cash no, but not paying huge MERs while our super balance goes south. This is a one of for us, not a game where we try to judge the highs and lows.

ian watson

Good questions and answers. Thanks.

Mark Dawson

Sounds great while you've sold off your investments I'm starting to buy in. Looks like a excellent time to buy some absolute bargains. It's not often that we're goin to see shares this cheap.

Shaen EGAN

What of the conspiracy theory? China flexing their muscles to say to the world "we are able to control the World economy". Shaen Egan

Jonathan Sheridan

Sam hows that 100% equity risk portfolio going? Perhaps time to add some bonds to the portfolio?

Jack Chaboisseau

I am reading all your comments with great attention. I am watching my self managed super fund dropping by 40%, luckily I don't have to sell, but it is very very scaring. Any advice on some good buy at the moment


I think strategies also depend upon what stage of life you're in/ Agree with Catherine as a self-funded retiree. Nothing worse than watching your money head south by the day!

Pamela Munro

No consideration or discussion was given about self funded retirees who have to draw down on their super even though the market has crashed.

Scott Smith

To Ben Snooks- you can most definitely get access to some very transparent equity products and managers through super. But not through big pooled funds / industry funds.