Never before have so many wealth-management executives spent so much time speaking with disease experts.

One of them is Avy Stein, co-founder of Cresset Capital Management, which oversees about $6 billion in assets.

Stein, who co-founded a private equity firm before starting Chicago-based Cresset in 2017, spoke with Bloomberg shortly before a scheduled call with clients and Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“There are a lot of rumors going around,” said Stein, whose firm caters to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families. “It will be a sort of level-set for them.”

The interview has been edited for space and clarity.

What is the mood among your clients?
We use a lot of private investment vehicles with our clients and our correlation to the market turned out to be relatively low. So the level of freakout isn’t quite as high as it might be on a retail level.

Most people’s attitude is that this is going to be longer and worse than thought. They see the stimulus and things like that that and wonder, ‘Why are we focused on this rather than on containing the disease?’ I’ve talked to a lot of epidemiologists and most believe we should go to complete lock down for a minimum of a few weeks.

I talked to a client the other night who wanted to put money to work in stocks because they think it’s the bottom. I said I’d be slow on that -- I think we have a ways to go. The only thing that will get the economy and the market back to normal is getting control of the disease.

Do you see any targeted market opportunities?
If you have the capital to buy private equity secondaries, this is a really good time.

In the past when things have gone down, some people with long-term illiquid assets want to sell, because of bank requirements or people just feel the need for more liquidity, whether endowments or individuals. To the extent you can buy diverse pools of private market assets at a discount, those have been pretty good ideas in the past.

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