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How SKAGEN has prepared for COVID-19

While the threat to life is mercifully low, the secondary effects on medical capacity are the key concerns for the current variant COVID-19. We observe governments moving at differing speeds, but there is no doubt that those that move far and fast are making best progress in limiting the impact of the outbreak. It seems we are painfully relearning the old lessons from as far back as the 1918 influenza outbreak.

The capital markets remain volatile, battered both by fear over Coronavirus and the ongoing oil dispute between Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This presents both risk and opportunity. While we know that loss of capital will be temporary, it is probable that some companies and industries will suffer long-term damage. Here the advantages of active management within broad mandates are clear. For now, SKAGEN's funds have given back any gains for 2020, and some of the gains from 2019. We have seen the suspension of some exchange listed funds, but this is mainly due to intra-day pricing challenges because of market movements, both up and down. Indeed, unlike 2008, the current market volatility does not have its roots in the payments and settlement system. Therefore, it is plausible that any long-term impact on the financial system will be less severe and any market correction may close the gap between prices and fundamentals, setting the scene for more sustainable growth in the next phase of market development.

Amongst our clients we observe that this time it's different. Investors are mostly holding faith with their long-term investment strategies and only making cautious adjustment; some client segments are buying the dip and rebalancing towards equities. Many clients are seeking advice. This is encouraging.

Within SKAGEN our COVID-19 response is activated – I have the slight advantage of having led virus response operations in a previous career. We have ceased any large scale client meetings in favour of webcast. All non-essential travel has ceased for the time being and we have dispersed personnel widely – both home and to our various locations where necessary and in a way that builds long-term resilience. Measures such as social distancing, transfer of work protocols, assessment of vendor risk, postponement of meetings and events and so on, are all in hand.  As part of the Storebrand group, we have enacted our corporate business continuity plan. This rests on multiple sites and significant built-in flexibility. The senior leadership team within SKAGEN meets daily via video conference, and we will adjust our posture ahead of the developing situation. While some infection is likely, we are very well positioned to deliver both returns and service despite it.

We will continue to maintain a high rate of information flow to you, our clients, primarily through digital channels and including economic and market commentary. Our advisors are available to discuss your hopes and fears whenever you wish. External challenges bring out the best in SKAGEN. There is no other place I'd rather be right now. 

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Historical returns are no guarantee for future returns. Future returns will depend, inter alia, on market developments, the fund manager's skill, the fund's risk profile and management fees. The return may become negative as a result of negative price developments.