Firstly, and most importantly, we hope that you are keeping safe, well and coping during these very challenging times. We would also like to make it clear we aren’t any good at medical stuff, so anything we are commenting on here is what we are good at – financial planning stuff. Too many medical experts are being drowned out by social media overnight ‘experts’ who have managed to shortcut the seven or so years of learning needed to be a qualified doctor by having lots of followers on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / insert channel here. We certainly aren’t being flippant of the current situation in any way, nor (hopefully) overreacting. Just trying to keep our heads.
A planned part of our busy start to the year was us moving to larger premises, the unplanned bit was it was in the middle of a global pandemic. However, we are very proud of our next chapter and hope that many of you will be able to come in and visit us soon. We really are looking forward to being part of a vibrant Westbourne community. But, following the announcement from Boris Johnson and because the safety of our team, their families, you and the wider community is of utmost importance to us we have made the decision to temporarily close our brand-new shiny office.
What does that look like?
- All but one of our team will be working from their home offices.
- One member of the team per day will be in the office to process post, perform physical back-ups of our servers (in addition, to the remote ones we do) and answer and distribute phone calls to the team.
- The team have downloaded ‘Zoom’ – video conferencing and virtual meeting software; we endeavour to continue our normal planned servicing program in this way with our clients utilising this technology. Alternatively, we can use Facetime (for Apple to Apple) or telephone meetings, however Zoom will be our preferred method as it allows us to share files on screens with you that way.
- If you are worried about this technology, we will do our very best to hold your hand through the process
- Zoom offer a free sign up (as well as a paid for one) – it might be of use to you to keep in contact with your friends and families? We researched the market and found it the best system for us.
Fortunately for us, this Business Continuity Plan is something we have been planning for and is part of our plans that we put in place many years ago, hoping of course never to need it.
Like any great team, we’re used to being able to peer over the tops of our computer monitors or shout across a desk and ask for advice or help when we need it. So, if you get in touch and there’s something the person answering isn’t fully sure of or can’t do for you right away, please can we ask you to bear with us? We’ll get your answer or get it done for you; it might take us just slightly longer than usual. This is compounded by reduced operating from most providers right now.
The markets, your investments?
Times like these are tough for everyone, we appreciate that. Even though we are working remotely, we are in constant contact with pension and investment companies, fund houses, discretionary fund managers and all the parties involved in the custodianship of our client’s savings and investments. For many of you who have been our clients for many years including throughout previous sharp corrections, you have had the benefit (not sure if this is the right word?) of going through one of these cycles before and coming out the other end ok. For some clients, this is a relatively new experience and a concerning situation. We do understand that and ask if you are worried that you do not worry alone, please get in contact and we can talk you through your own individual circumstances, what plans we will be putting in place with you to get everything back on track as soon as prudently possible and what we think are the most likely outcomes. We have long criticized all the news channels for focusing on all the negatives and ignoring any positives. It is well known and researched that negative emotions have a far more powerful effect on us than positive ones (negativity bias) and it’s a bit of a parlour trick to keep us glued to the tele / reading the newspaper. For example, the fact the US market had its best day in nearly 100 years last week was not as widely reported as smaller daily drops in the overused and very familiar ‘billions wiped off’ headlines.
We also know each time we experience a crisis we are told ‘this time it’s different’ however history tends to repeat itself, like in the chart below.
Of course, it doesn’t mean it will all be ok this time, nobody knows for sure. What we do know though is that central banks and governments have pumped as much cash into the system as we have ever seen in our whole careers. With a promise of unlimited extra help ‘to do whatever it takes’. We therefore think that this extra debt for governments to service will lead to generationally low interest rates (as the people who have to pay the interest are in the fortunate rate of dictating what interest rate they pay), which means that cash is unlikely to match inflation rates for a very, very long time. This usually means money is forced into riskier assets, for example into shares. There are a finite number of shares in existence, therefore when demand goes up and supply can’t change, prices tend to rise. So, we believe that we will see recovery in asset class prices and that cash deposits become an even bigger loss of wealth in real (inflation adjusted) terms. Warren Buffett said as an investor, “it is wise to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”, we don’t think we need to be too greedy, you all know us to be far duller and plain vanilla than that with your money, but we don’t think we need to be fearful.
As always, we thank you for your continued support and we are proud you have chosen us to be your trusted advisers, something we take very seriously. If you have any questions during these extraordinary times, please know that all of our advisers are fully contactable and on hand to alleviate any concerns.
We look forward to speaking with you soon, please take care.
Your team at Strategic Solutions.