Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Article #3 (from Dimensional Fund Advisors)

Coronavirus and Dimensional’s Business Continuity Plan

Mar 09, 2020

Considering recent developments related to the coronavirus, we would like to make you aware of the measures we are taking. Our focus is on protecting the health and well-being of our employees, clients, and guests and ensuring we are prepared to effectively manage the investment solutions and deliver the high level of client service we offer in a range of possible scenarios. 

Dimensional has a business continuity plan that we regularly review, test, and evolve through time. A team responsible for that plan is meeting regularly to monitor the current situation, enact necessary measures, and ensure we’re implementing preparedness procedures across all aspects of our business. Given the trust you’ve placed in us, we want to offer transparency into key steps we’re taking for preparedness and continuity of service:

Increased Monitoring
Dimensional is closely monitoring information from global entities, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), international health authorities, and risk management and business continuity experts. We are also engaging with a number of industry groups, including the Investment Company Institute (ICI), for idea sharing and best practices.

Additionally, when there is higher market volatility, we monitor conditions that could affect our investment process or strategies, such as liquidity, how trading markets are functioning, and overall market volumes. We are in regular communication with service providers performing critical functions such as transfer agent, mid-office and back-office.

Investment Strategies
While the spread of the coronavirus is unsettling on a human level and has had an impact on the markets’ recent volatility, it has not led to any specific adjustments in our investment process. Dimensional believes that markets are designed to handle uncertainty—prices quickly incorporate information and reflect expectations about a company’s future risks and opportunities, including the potential impact from a viral outbreak. Our approach is to maintain diversified exposure to securities that exhibit the desired characteristics of each strategy, so that the portfolio is positioned to capture premiums when they present themselves. We adhere to that approach in all market environments.

More than 30 years ago, we made the decision to locate investment functions strategically around the world. We currently manage portfolios out of seven offices (three in North America, one in Europe, two in Asia and one in Australia). Globally integrated portfolio management and trading services play important roles in our business, and our operations are designed to function at the highest level in any foreseeable situation. Our core business services can be transferred to other offices and countries if necessary, with little impact to operations. With more than 1,400 employees around the world, we take a team-based approach to all business functions, and we are positioned well to continue the work we conduct on behalf of clients.

Travel and Client Meetings
Dimensional is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for employees and clients, while maintaining the firm’s high standards in order to protect the assets we manage. As part of this effort, we have suspended all non-essential business travel for employees without prior approval. We have also encouraged employees to exercise caution regarding any plans for personal travel to areas considered higher risk. Additionally, we are advising employees who have traveled to higher-risk areas or may have been otherwise exposed to the virus to stay home for at least 14 days before returning to the office.

We have implemented additional measures out of an abundance of caution. We have canceled or postponed most client events through the end of April. In addition, we are restricting all non-essential visitors to our buildings and opting for virtual interactions.

While travel is not generally part of our investment process, it has been an important part of client service over the years. As technological advancements over the past decade have expanded the ways we interact with clients, Dimensional has made extensive investments in virtual meeting capabilities globally. Given the current situation, employees are shifting meetings from in-person to meetings via phone or video. Through this approach, we are confident we can continue to provide valuable interactions, whatever the setting. 

Dimensional Offices
Dimensional maintains a comprehensive Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan for all its offices and facilities. This plan includes elevated cleanliness standards and targeted resources available to increase awareness and promote hygiene.

We have implemented remote work arrangements for Dimensional offices in high-risk areas including Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. We are prepared to expand those arrangements if necessary and are proactively testing remote work capabilities and handoffs across all of our global offices and functions. We have also taken steps to increase the number and variety of our network access points to aid in the performance, resilience, and capacity for employee remote access.

As a team, the staff at Dimensional remain focused on our work: delivering the best investment experience we can for those who have entrusted us with their assets. We are monitoring this dynamic situation closely in conjunction with public health officials and service providers in various regions around the world. We will continue to take the necessary precautions and implement the firm’s business continuity plan as conditions warrant. We take our responsibility to you seriously and are committed to building on the trust we have established with clients over nearly four decades.
The information in this document is provided in good faith without any warranty and is intended for the recipient’s background information only. It does not constitute investment advice, recommendation, or an offer of any services or products for sale and is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision. It is the responsibility of any persons wishing to make a purchase to inform themselves of and observe all applicable laws and regulations. Unauthorized copying, reproducing, duplicating, or transmitting of this document are strictly prohibited. Dimensional accepts no responsibility for loss arising from the use of the information contained herein.
“Dimensional” refers to the Dimensional separate but affiliated entities generally, rather than to one particular entity. These entities are Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Dimensional Fund Advisors Ltd., Dimensional Ireland Limited, DFA Australia Limited, Dimensional Fund Advisors Canada ULC, Dimensional Fund Advisors Pte. Ltd, Dimensional Japan Ltd., and Dimensional Hong Kong Limited. Dimensional Hong Kong Limited is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission to conduct Type 1 (dealing in securities) regulated activities only and does not provide asset management services.
This material is issued by DFA Australia Limited (AFS License No. 238093, ABN 46 065 937 671). This material is provided for information only. No account has been taken of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Accordingly, to the extent this material constitutes general financial product advice, investors should, before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. Any opinions expressed in this material reflect our judgement at the date of publication and are subject to change.