Asset protection

High-Stakes COVID Vaccine Game Targeted By Russian Hackers

With the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in full force, and with Moderna having just published encouraging human trial results, news that Russian spies have been targeting vaccine developers in three countries is enough to make pharma investors extremely nervous.

Reports on Thursday emerged that Russian spies are targeting vaccine developers in the United States, Canada and the UK.

Security agencies from all three countries issued a joint statement saying that while espionage had not disrupted work on a vaccine, Russian hackers have been trying to steal information about vaccine efforts.

More specifically, the agencies are blaming the attacks on a Russian intelligence hacking group called “APT29” (aka “Cozy Bear” or “the Dukes”), which was also linked to the 2016 attacks on the Democratic National Committee.

“Throughout 2020, APT29 has targeted various organisations involved in COVID-19 vaccine development in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines,” agencies said in a warning.

The agencies said the attacks were also directed at the energy industry.

According to the UK’s NCSC security agency, the group “almost certainly operate as part of Russian intelligence services”–an assessment that is supported by the U.S. Department for Homeland Security (DHS), and other Canadian and U.S. agencies.

“APT29’s campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property,” the NCSC said…CLICK for complete article

Financial Readiness Assessment – Are You Prepared?

Andrew Ruhland and the team at Integrated Wealth Management have updated their very popular, free online Financial Readiness Assessment tool for 2020. This easy-to-use survey tool provides instant feedback with a Financial Readiness score and specific advice on how to improve. In addition, you will receive a customized report with all your responses included for future reference. Whether you a employ professional investment advisor or prefer a DIY approach, this assessment tool is definitely worth 5 or 10 minutes of your time. ~ Ed.

CLICK HERE to access 

Fraud Hits New High Amid Pandemic

Any time the world is thrown off balance by a major, sustained event or incident, it’s an opportunity for some of our most creative minds for a burst of new and refined criminal activity. The global pandemic presents an atmosphere ripe for criminal creativity, and the United States is now drowning in new colorful types of fraud.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as of May 28th, its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received as many complaints in the first five months of this year as it did for all 12 months of 2019.

Three-quarters of those complaints are frauds and swindles, and the “sheer volume” is “a challenge” for the FBI.

From the sale of counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) claiming to ward off coronavirus and fake cures to fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, stimulus check scams and even plots to take advantage of children engaging in online schooling, the vultures have come out of the pandemic woodwork in full force.

Real estate scams are just one target–but of the high-dollar variety.

With the real estate industry in lockdown for months, many elements of the closing process that were normally required to be done in person for security reasons were accomplished digitally, opening up magnificent opportunities for IT-savvy criminals to hijack emails between agents, title agencies and buyers, convincing buyers to send their down payments to wrong parties. CLICK for complete article

Disney, Beyond Meat And Video Game Makers All Set To Report As Firm Tone Continues

Maybe last week’s pause refreshed the market a little.

There’s a positive tone on Wall Street early Tuesday following Monday’s late recovery. Crude continues to advance, and that seems to be providing the fuel. With the exception of Japan, overseas indices all advanced overnight and some of the “horsemen of risk” like bonds and gold retreated.

So what’s going on here? There’s a line of thought that strength in crude reflects hopes for growing energy demand as some U.S. states start to reopen. California is the latest, though it’s just taking a few steps like allowing curbside pickup at…Click for full article.

There is no sugar coating it, we’re in an economic crisis and you have important investment decisions to make. Join Andrew Ruhland’s webinar for Straight Talk on markets and how to:
• Redefine Risk and Invest Intelligently in the “New Normal” that will be anything but normal
• Bullet-proof your retirement income through the Sovereign Debt Crises and future inflation
• Minimize Portfolio Volatility to avoid impulsive, fear-based decision making
• Be an opportunist during a crisis (including commodity-based investment sectors and macro long-short strategies.
CLICK HERE to register

Surviving and Thriving through COVID-19

Andrew talks about connection, transcendence, protection and harmony, and what we can learn about ourselves.

What a difference a pandemic makes, not only in investment markets, but more importantly in our daily lives and society at large. Today I’ll focus on the latter where we have much more control, despite many feeling trapped.

Rewinding to late January 2020 when news emerged of China shutting down Wuhan to “get ahead” of COVID-19, who amongst us imagined that > 60% of the global population would find itself “locked down” to “flatten the curve,” through “social distancing?” How could this happen, and so quickly? Yesterday a dear friend sent me the best explanation so far:
Once an old, wise man was sitting under a tree when the epidemic god came along. The wise man asked him, “Where are you going?” The god of epidemic replied, “I’m going to the city and I’m going to kill a hundred people there.” On his return journey, the god of epidemic came back to the wise man. The wise man said to him, “You told me that you wanted to kill a hundred people. But travellers told me that ten thousand had died.” The epidemic god said, “I only killed a hundred. The others were killed by their own fear.”
– Zen Buddhist allegory

In late 2019, I embraced a theme of “Connection, Transcendence, Protection and Harmony.” It still applies, though the narrative has morphed. Above all, what can we learn about ourselves?

Connection: Over the years, I’ve made reference here and elsewhere to how our society is “more wired and less connected” than ever before, specifically because of technology’s ubiquity. Today, we find ourselves either trapped (?) with loved ones or home alone, with every authority figure shaming us – through every device – for venturing too frequently to the grocery store or daring to pass another human outside within 2 meters. That’s a lot of masked deer frozen in one massive set of headlights!

“Distrust of the other” is being drilled into us 24/7. Some solitude is beneficial but most of us function best with regular in-person contact with those we like, and even with those we love. Basic trust of others is the thread humans use to weave the basic fabric of civilized society; presently, these threads are being rapidly eroded by acerbic fear.

The longer this goes on, the more difficult it becomes to prevent major tears in the fabric of our great western society. Disconnection leads to chaos, especially disconnection from our authentic selves. As it is within, so it is without. Mindfulness practice, prayer, music, exercise and laughter all help build connection.

Transcendence: Rising above the chaos is challenging, especially with underdeveloped wings. Even juveniles can get airborne with the lift of historical perspective, acute skepticism of the herd mentality, and a sensitive B.S. meter. I thank goodness (and my parents!) for these, and a learned appreciation of the Socratic Method.

We know the risk of COVID-19 spread is low, and thankfully the mortality rate dramatically lower still. In this context, is the forced shutdown of the economy commensurate with the COVID-19 risk? Are other serious lasting human costs (job-loss induced spikes in depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic violence, etc.) being given appropriate weight by the mighty decision makers?

Do we judge the pronouncements and directives of the powerful based on the degree of alignment with our own political philosophy, or do we carefully measure the risk/reward and wisdom/folly with stoic and detached critical thinking? Does it feel like we’re being worked, managed or manipulated?

Are we able to transcend even ourselves, and take on the role of our own observer?

Protection: Our Portfolio Managers have been doing a truly fine job of protecting portfolio values, and have made many nimble shifts to maximize recovery potential, while acknowledging that the major bottom may not yet have passed. So let’s transcend financial protection.

How well do you think our closest levels of government have prepared to protect us through this unlikely event? Do you remember the allegory of the Ant and the Grasshopper? Do we fully comprehend the “flattening of the curve” of our basic civil liberties, or do we simply nod and “moo” quietly as we fall in line with the rest of the herd?

Who are the thought leaders that dare stand up and insist on any semblance of fiscal restraint and sunset clauses for so-called “temporary measures?” What are the longer term effects of Trudeau’s smugly-delivered yet spine-chilling assurance, “Your government is here to help you?”

Should an infected patient maintain the freedom to choose early-course off-label treatments with “novel medications” (with marginal side effect profiles) for this novel virus, or be forced to wait for bureaucratic overlords to conduct further trials and we listen to politicians scream for more of the ventilators or PPE they chose not to stockpile in advance?

Who is watching the tendencies, biased pronouncements and behavior of various media outlets? How is our present and future privacy being protected, or is it vanishing in the tsunami of media-induced fear? What can be done, practically speaking?

Harmony: We all have AGENCY here; let’s strengthen it with vigorous use. If we’re not careful, the seeds of new and exaggerated discord can lay down permanent roots. If we’re mindful, clearly intentioned, courageous and persistent, we can excavate our oldest and deepest fearful roots that manifest as unhealthy behaviours and the inaccurate personal stories we tell ourselves and others. We can plant flowers instead of allowing weeds.

How do we endure this present chaos AND nurture maximum harmony when our “new normal” emerges? How do we honor the importance of our closest relationships when things aren’t going our way? How do we cultivate compassion for ourselves and others in the face of fear-based protective instincts? How do we keep our good humor with others, and continue to laugh at ourselves? Thankfully, there are too many ways to list here.

From my perspective, this all comes back to free will. We can decide to come out of this wiser, stronger and more caring than before. This is both a frightening and a wonderful pandemic; we each get to decide which one wins out. I choose wonderful. How about you?

Patience and Discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness; so focus on these.

We’re always available to connect voice to voice with Clients. Just let us know.

If you’re curious how we can serve your family’s wealth management needs, please reply to this email with your contact coordinates or complete the contact form on our website.

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management