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Thoughts from Global Expert Investors

Thoughts from Global Expert Investors

As I’m sure everyone is aware, volatility in investments markets is currently at an extreme high and we have been helping our clients understand the implications that this level of volatility is having on their portfolios.

This blog is aimed to help investors understand how some of the most successful investors from around the world operate in trying market conditions and take the opportunity to invest as assets are lowly priced. It also aims to try and help reassure investors why now is not a time to panic, but to maintain the status quo or to take advantage of the low asset prices.

What the experts say

These quotes from some of the most successful investors illustrate how investing in stock markets can be a challenging yet rewarding venture, requiring strong research skills, a rational, dispassionate mindset, a long-term horizon and patience in equal measure.

Summary

As can be seen from the quotes above which are from some of the most successful investors from around the world, adverse market conditions should not be seen as a moment to run and hide, but as an opportunistic time to be invested and to make additional investments.

We are confident that fund managers in the market are already looking ahead and looking to purchase investments that might have looked too expensive to buy a couple of weeks ago.

To be invested in real growth assets, means you are willing to take a level of risk with your invested capital in order to have the potential to achieve greater levels of capital appreciation over the medium to long term than would otherwise be available by remaining in pure cash assets.

Time and patience are an investors friend at the moment, and it’s important that investors remain invested in order to reap the rewards of the eventual market recovery that will come, it’s just a matter of time.

If you would like to discuss the impact on your investment further, or perhaps want to invest additional capital, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please keep safe and healthy.

 

Carl Mitchell – DipPFS

IFA/Paraplanner

27/03/2020

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State Pensions – What you need to understand well before you retire

When the new State Pension was introduced for those reaching State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016, the intention was to simplify the old system which was a State Pension system with multiple different aspects (i.e. the basic state pension, state earnings-related pension (SERPS), the second state pension (S2P) and the graduated retirement benefit).

The new State Pension is a single benefit paid to individuals who have made (or been credited with) 35 years National Insurance contributions.

Unlike the old system it replaced, the new pension is based solely on the contributions of the individual, with no extra amounts awarded based on contributions made by a spouse or civil partner and no inheriting of rights after the death of a spouse or civil partner.

This loss of the death benefits is just one of the major issues with the new system. Unfortunately, this is not widely known by the general public. Government should publicise this issue.

Apart from the obvious issues regarding longevity and possible legislation changes to the State Pension (including the possible loss of the ‘triple lock’*), one of the biggest issues is incorrect State Pension forecasts.

We wrote about this in a blog back in February 2017, https://www.pandbifa.co.uk/state-pension-forecast-wrong/.

Last year the former pensions minister Steve Webb (in partnership with the ‘This is Money’ website investigated this further and found that in some cases, new forecasts were more than £1,000 a year higher than had previously been expected. These cases were raised with DWP who initially said that these were isolated errors which had now been corrected.

However, there still seems to be issues, particularly around people who were members of Defined Benefit pension schemes that had been contracted out.

Commenting on the findings at the time, Steve Webb (who was also the Director of Policy at Royal London at the time) said: “People are increasingly encouraged to use online services to help plan their retirement, and the new pensions dashboard will rely heavily on such data. It is therefore very worrying that hundreds of thousands of people may have received incorrect state pension forecasts and in some cases will have taken decisions about their retirement plans on the basis of incorrect information. Now that the Government is aware of the scale of the problem, it must put an urgent stop to the issuing of incorrect statements. Individuals need to have confidence that the information they receive from the government is accurate and should not have to live with the uncertainty that a statement they have already received may be seriously incorrect”.

If you haven’t already, please visit https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension to request a State Pension Forecast or call the Future Pension Centre helpline on 0800 731 0175 and request a paper copy.

We will issue new updates on the future of State Pensions regularly and we take this into account at each of our clients annual reviews.

Comment

In general terms the levelling out of the State Pension in April 2016 was beneficial to a lot of low earners and carers. This is good news.

However, for those of us who have lost significant death benefits from the State Pension, the spouse’s pension element from April 2016, advice should be taken to ensure that our long term partners have enough pension provision (or replacement for it) as soon as possible.

Don’t leave it too late, until just before you draw your State Pension. This could be a mistake that you can’t rectify at this stage.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of the State Pension or retirement planning, please contact us at enquiries@pandbifa.co.uk or call us on 0151 546 1969.

Andrew Lloyd 02/03/2020

 

*The triple lock is the method under which the State Pension increases each year. This is in line with whichever is the highest of consumer price inflation (CPI), average earnings growth or 2.5%.

Data Source: Royal London Press Release – ‘Minister forced to admit ‘significant’ problems as a third of a million incorrect state pension forecasts issued’ – June 2019

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Goodbye 2019 Hello 2020!

If we look back on the last year, we have had an eventful time.  If we expand that time horizon to the last c 4 years who would have believed the following would happen:

  • We vote to leave the EU as a nation
  • Donald Trump becomes the US President
  • Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister of the UK
  • John Bercow as Speaker frustrates democracy with the aid of c 75% of MPs
  • Labour voters turn against Jeremy Corbyn and his policy (lack of policy?) on Brexit

We have had our fair share of political drama in the UK recently, but I think it’s important that we look more globally too.  The biggest issue impacting on markets is the progress (or lack of it) that the US and China are making on their trade deal.

As the US and China move into Phase Two of their trade negotiations they will get immersed in the detail on export and import controls, investment restrictions, and sanctions rather than with tariffs.  The key case to watch will be how the US deal with the global technology business Huawei.  Huawei are a major issue for the US on 5G telecoms technology.  5G will open the door to a wide range of new technologies – a ‘game changer’.

Other technologies such as Quantum Computing and AI/Machine Learning could have a big impact on our lives too.  The investment opportunities are numerous.

There are also plenty of risks. The effects of climate change will continue to be felt globally, and populist politics show no sign of receding. Currently it looks like the barriers to international trade being erected in the US and the UK will be long-term features and may even be added to by other countries. In the 2010s we saw an acceleration of globalisation, the 2020s could well see a reversal. The potential effects of that are unclear.

The slow breaking up of the global trade order would not be good news for China, but it would not stop its rise. It has now reached a size and maturity which allows it – like the US – to rely more and more on domestic demand. Regardless of the global trade picture, we would expect Chinese economic rate of growth to slow from its recent pace over the long term – if only for demographic reasons. The country’s place in the global economic order is entrenched. We expect this to lead to increased confrontation between the US and China, particularly if populism prevails in the former.

The 2020s bring promises and risks, like any new decade. Themes that have been ongoing for decades (globalisation, financialisation, environmental degradation, etc.) could well be set in reverse. Be wary of predictions too, the last few years has shown us all that it’s difficult to predict what will happen next.

In this volatile market the FTSE 100 is not in a bad place and other indices are in a good position too.  With the global political backdrop, the markets look reasonable right now.  But hold onto your hats – it could be a bumpy ride!

If we do experience high volatility, please remember the following:

  • Remain invested in real growth assets
  • Diversification helps, be well diversified
  • Ignore short term volatility if you can
  • Investing is for the long term

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

 

 

Steve Speed

30/12/2019

 

Includes some content from FP & Tatton.

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Post General Election Update 13/12/2019

Whilst exit polls bring about a certain degree of clarity, the moment Blyth Valley went blue just after 11:30pm it was obvious this wasn’t going to be any normal election night. As we sit and digest the full implications of the election result, it is impossible not to conclude that this result is extraordinary no matter your political leanings.

Right now, in the aftermath it is important for us to cut through the rhetoric and political posturing to get to the heart of what matters to investment markets.

A strong majority for the government brings with it clarity, something that markets have been longing for. Investors, both at home and abroad, have largely sat on their hands waiting for the day that the country could move forward with some degree of certainty, which had stymied investment and had put the UK at a significant discount to the majority of its developed market peers.

Initial market euphoria on the morning of the result has been refreshing. Sterling has strengthened substantially and the FTSE 100, that all too often finds itself moving in the opposite direction to the currency due to the prevalence of overseas earners it counts as its constituents, rallied over 1% (nearer 2%). Whereas the FTSE 250, a much more domestically focused index, found itself up over 5% in early trading. The removal of the risk of market unfriendly policies also brings good news for specific sectors, with utilities, property and banks all rallying strongly.

It may be difficult for investors not to get dragged along for the ride, assuming that this election result means that everything is now rosy in the UK. We must, however, remember that this is not the end of the Brexit process, it simply means that the starting pistol has been well and truly fired.

 

Summary

Volatility is likely to continue as Brexit is negotiated.  We also need to remember that the UK is only a small proportion of global GDP production and economic activity.  In reality, the US/China trade deal is far bigger and the impact on global markets much more significant from this trade deal.

The top geo political risks include major cyber-attacks, rising authoritarianism and trade wars.

However, lets enjoy today as this was the right outcome for markets and the City of London.

 

Steve Speed

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Investment Update

Goodbye 2018 Hello 2019!

For those invested for long term growth and fully invested for retirement income (Pension Drawdown) you will have probably experienced the heightened volatility in investments this year.  The higher your equity content the higher your volatility.

Following circa nine years of good growth and the great growth year we had in 2017 across the world, this year could have been a shock to the system and a reminder that volatility is normal when you invest for the medium to long term.

Investment returns for this calendar year (2018) have been nominal if not a loss unless you are in a specialist or multi asset investment.

Views for 2019 vary.  Some commentators (J P Morgan for example) tell us that the recession risk is rising over the next three years.  Invesco Perpetual tell us that we should consider eight key risks.  The highest risk being the Geo Political risk.  Trump, trade wars and the political risks arising from Trump’s domestic political situation.  Brexit and Europe get a mention in commentary on political risks too.

More positive views for 2019 come from Tatton and Prudential.  Tatton believe we will see ongoing volatility, but the risk has been factored into equity markets at too higher level.  Not all equity markets are good value though.  Prudential, managers of substantial multi asset funds, also had a fairly positive view in early December.  This may be because of their multi asset fund management skills and experience.  Prudential do tend to take the view of long-term investors (quite rightly too).

To summarise I don’t think 2019 will be an easy year for investors but you need to remain in real growth assets to benefit from investment returns over the long term.  If you are approaching the time you want to access your investment or draw pension benefits you might consider reducing your risk.  This is a finely balanced decision and advice should be sought.

On a positive note 2019 sounds like it might be a better year for investments than 2018.  Please note that we can experience shocks to the market and that the opinions shown above are only forecasts.  The world is quite difficult to read now.

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

 

 

Steve Speed

17/12/2018

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Brexit Blog

Brexit update by Tatton Investments 2nd November 2018

Below is an update of Tatton’s view of the issues around Brexit. It is their view but we subscribe to the contents. Please read at your leisure and contact me if you wish to discuss. Regards, Steve.

 

Brexit, the biggest decision made by the British in recent history steps ever closer to reality, March 2019 when Britain is no longer a member of the EU. Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, implied this week that he was confident of a deal by November 21, only to backtrack to what has become the now standard ‘no progress’ negotiating position of the UK Government and the EU. This ‘nearly there, but no change’ and little detail on what has actually been negotiated led to 700,000 people marching in London and a seeming endless bickering between the politicians on all sides.

Against this – for many – unnerving backdrop of apparent lack of real progress on negotiations, we thought it time to provide investors with an update on our thoughts regarding Brexit and the impact on your investments.

It seems likely, even with a deal, that there will be, or agreed that there can be, an extension of transition periods and a temporary continuation of the customs union to prevent trade disruptions. This very EU like fudge, with a more benign rather than negative public position from both sides, has pushed a definitive decision far enough away to not cause an immediate crisis.

The UK and the EU are apparently locked in this nerve-wracking (certainly for the public) standoff.  This, coupled with the seeming unwillingness of the opposing political sides within the UK’s political leadership and parliament to break ground and commit to a policy makes me suspect that we are witnessing deliberate rather than situational brinkmanship on the side of the government. The more to the wire negotiations appear and the later Theresa May’s team presents any form of Brexit deal, the less the time, opportunity and public support for those who prefer chaos to pragmatic compromise – to agitate against it. Jeremy Corbyn controls his shadow cabinet very tightly, easier to watch the Tories self-destruct than expose his own party’s divisions on Brexit.

It seems that the weeks until year end can be expected to remain as unnerving as the weeks since the summer, which may well put renewed but temporary pressure on £-Sterling, until at the last minute the looming crisis is resolved in a nail-biting finale which both sides will hope to make the result ‘sellable’ to their respective electorates.

All this high-profile politics doesn’t alleviate any of our concerns as investment managers or your concerns as investors on how the UK’s future relationship with the EU will impact on our lives. This is, of course, understandable despite truly domestic British assets forming a relatively small section of our overall investment portfolios compared to global assets. So, with the nation still staring down the barrel of a no deal gun, it may come as a surprise then that, at Tatton, we’re relatively sanguine about the whole thing – for the time being at least.

Yes, there are thick clouds of uncertainty over the UK’s future and serious unknowns to consider. How long will this government last? Will we soon have another election or even referendum? What options would such a referendum even pose? And that’s just the short term; the shape of Britain’s long-term arrangement with the EU is even more uncertain.

There are certain things we can be fairly confident about. The most important of these is that, while March 2019’s official exit will undoubtedly be a significant milestone, it’s unlikely to see too many changes to the actual business environment. A transitional period and a BRINO (Brexit in name only) for the near future, without a solid long-term agreement, are the most likely outcomes for next year.

The fact that the October deadline for an agreement was missed all but confirms this in our eyes. Put simply, there is no way to have a substantial breakaway from European laws in five months’ time without significant damage to both British and (to a somewhat lesser extent) European economies. While many businesses have contingencies for the various strengths of Brexit, such a sudden shift would force them into a difficult position. This is something that politicians and electorates on both sides couldn’t abide. Unlike the longer-term arrangements, this could be easily avoided without too much complication or loss of face.

As strange is it may sound, we think this is especially true considering the weakness of politicians on all sides. Rarely do you get aggressive or far-reaching decisions with weak leadership. At home, Theresa May’s minority government faces both internal and external opposition. While some of this is pushing her towards a harder Brexit, a larger proportion is pushing her the other way. In Germany, the Merkel era looks shaky and now even has an end date. General Eurosceptic sentiment across the continent is pushing national governments and even Brusselite technocrats away from causing a pan-European economic upset for the sake of proving the supremacy and integrity of the remaining EU27.

All this points to a continuation of the Brexit muddle-through in the short term. During that time, the UK should be able to take full advantage of EU member status with the added bonus of a low-valued currency. A lower £-Sterling price gives exporters and advantage that has boosted the British economy and gone some way to redressing its underlying structural issues. So long as this continues and demand from Europe doesn’t fall off too dramatically, we see a relatively good picture for the UK in 2019.

We must, however, tinge this rosy picture with a fair dose of caution. Economically, Britain is in a fragile balance. Recent inflation data suggests that even modest growth is likely to generate inflation pressures. Combined with continued weakness in the housing market, this has given the Bank of England a serious headache on whether to raise rates more aggressively in case £-Sterling came under undue pressure – and risk choking off the economic activity – or hold back – and risk inflation getting out of hand.

Politically, things are equally fragile. British politics has three main Brexit camps who all have a fair chance of being in power in a few months’ time: The Labour Party, who are pushing for a Brexit lite; the Johnson/Rees-Mogg axis of the Tory party, under whom a hard Brexit looks fairly certain; and Theresa May’s unassuming band of Tory MPs, who are not overly keen on Brexit but will have to seek re-nomination from a Tory membership which appears firmly pro-Brexit. Given that market expectations for the UK are almost directly correlated to the expected strength of Brexit, the one comforting part of this balance is that two out of three of those options avoid a damaging hard Brexit.

On the continent, things are much the same. European electorates would prefer the UK to remain but, as the exit is inevitable, businesses (in particular) just want the outcome that leads to least disruption. The Eurocrats in Brussels are ideologically opposed to Brexit and have shown in the past, with Greece and Italy, that they’re willing to forgo easy solutions for the sake of purity. On the whole, the national governments are somewhere in the middle

The difference here however is that, while Europhobic Tory backbenchers are noisy, they aren’t in control. The Eurocrats – who combine their technocratic management style with a dogmatism usually reserved for more extreme ideologues – are. As ever in European politics, this makes easy solutions more difficult.

But even the self-styled protectors of the European project are ultimately subordinate to national leaders. If the economic threat to electorates is big enough, national leaders will put enough pressure on Brussels to make a deal. As yet they have not applied real pressure on the Eurocrats to make a deal happen.

When they do, this could well lead to an arrangement somewhere between a Switzerland/Norway model deal or (in a worst-case scenario) a Canada-plus. None of these trade models with the EU are likely to be as good or better than full membership, but then this may be the price to pay for increased levels of sovereignty and being able to negotiate free trade deals with other global regions on our own.

To use Theresa May’s words, “not a walk in the park”, but “not the end of the world either” is what we would expect as a worst case for March 2019.

What does this mean for our allocations and your investments? In our assessment, the shunned £-Sterling and UK stocks are currently lower valued than the medium-term outlook justifies, which is why we removed the previous UK underweight from portfolios in August. You should remember that we allocate globally and so our view on the UK is in terms of how we can best position your investments, not what we want out of Brexit. On that basis, Brexit becomes less of our immediate focus, because the levers of Trump, China are having more significant effects globally, and that is where most of your portfolio holdings are doing their business and thus where we seek to generate returns.

Please talk to Steve to see our monthly or quarterly portfolio factsheets which contain detailed breakdowns of our allocations. We frequently write about Brexit in the Tatton Weekly which you can subscribe, through your adviser, if you would like to know more about our ongoing research and investment thinking.

 

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Market Volatility – October 2018

Market Volatility – October 2018

Depending on how you are invested with your pension and/or investments, you may have noticed the volatility in the markets over the last few days.  We saw a significant drop in some asset values in the week ending 12th October.

Heightened volatility has been experienced since February this year.  It is expected now but the consensus view from fund managers is still for growth in 2018 and 2019 but with continued volatility.  We could experience shocks to the market.

I recently attended an Invesco Perpetual Investment Intelligence seminar and the main risk focused on was Geo Politics.  Whilst we hear a lot of media noise about Brexit, Trump is likely to be the bigger political risk.

Trump may just be posturing to the home crowd for the Mid Terms and hopefully normal service (normal Trump!) will be resumed shortly.

For most investors, we should ignore the short-term volatility and focus on the long term.  The majority of investments used are ‘active’ funds with fund managers taking account of the changing market outlook.  In addition, we also use investment propositions that have strategic and tactical management that invest appropriately, within a given risk profile, for the markets.

A key message for investors is to keep calm and carry on!

 

 

Steve Speed

19/10/2018

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Defined Benefit Pension Transfers – an update

Defined Benefit Pension Transfers – an update

Interest in Defined Benefit Pension Transfers has been very high over the last 18 months, largely due to the high Cash Equivalent Transfer Values offered and the flexibility available under the new ‘Freedom & Choice’ pension legislation.

Our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has, as expected, taken a keen interest on these pension transfers.  We are alert to what the FCA are saying and, where appropriate, amend our procedures to reflect their comments and recommendations.

Recent press articles have also contributed to the ‘noise’ around Defined Benefit pension transfers including BHS, Carillion and the British Steel Pension Schemes. We have not advised on any of these schemes. The British Steel Pension Scheme is an unusual case with unique circumstances.  One of the key areas the FCA has been concerned with in this particular case is the fact that people did not appear to get individual advice.

We strive to offer our clients the best advice; this means advice personalised to the individual.

We have now decided it is appropriate to move away from the charging basis that we have used to date and, in line with the current regulatory and peer group discussions, we will now charge for the initial pension transfer advice, whether or not you transfer your pension. The FCA believe that this approach will remove any bias to recommend a transfer as the advice will be charged for, regardless of outcome.

For clarity, this means that we could potentially hold two meetings with you, advise you not to transfer your pension and invoice you for this advice.

In the interests of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ we will only take this approach for new enquiries from today.  Any meetings previously booked will not be charged for on this basis as it was not our charging methodology when the enquiry was made.

Steve Speed

19/02/2018

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2017 Annual Round-up

It’s been a busy year and an interesting one from a political and market perspective.  However, the investment returns have been good and, dependent on your risk profile, you will have seen investment returns ranging from good to excellent over the last year.

Unless we see an unusual finish to the year, investors should be able to contemplate their position over the festive holidays and feel a sense of satisfaction.

You might think that, given the backdrop of political and global events, the markets have been relatively calm.  This is the case as the underlying fundamentals, low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment and corporate earnings growth across a lot of the globe have been favourable.

One of the areas we focus on is the Budget.  This appeared to be quite well balanced and we saw no real change impacting on advice.  The Lifetime Allowance for pensions increases to £1,030,000.00 in April 2018.  A step in the right direction.

My Christmas wish is for the politicians to leave pension legislation alone.  We have seen enough legislative change recently for pensions (and most of it has been favourable) but I’d like to see the status quo maintained for stability in this area as we fund pensions for the very long term, 30, 40 or even 50 years and we need to have faith in pension legislation to give us confidence to fund for the long term and to be able to plan our retirement.

The consensus outlook for 2018 (I’ve been doing the rounds in seminars listening to economists, fund managers and strategists), is for growth but with higher volatility.  This again is based on strong underlying global fundamentals.  Investment returns are not likely to be as good as for 2017 but they should be fair.

We are obviously subject to shocks in the market (as ever) and this could impact your investment returns if we suffer a significant setback.

Let’s hope we have a peaceful 2018 with less war, conflict and terrorism.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year!

Steve Speed

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Protecting your data – Cyber Essentials accreditation

Cyber Essentials logo

Protecting your data – Cyber Essentials Accreditation

Over the last few months you have almost certainly seen and heard about major businesses being hit by large-scale cyber attacks.

We take the security of your data very seriously and, although we have not experienced a data breach, we have been investing to tighten our IT security and internal processes.

I am delighted to announce that we have just been awarded the recently created Cyber Essentials accreditation. This award is externally verified and involves checking that our processes meet best practice standards and attempting to hack our systems.

While we are pleased with this outcome, we are aware that the people who perpetrate cyber-attacks are technically capable and persistent. With this in mind, we will continue to take advice on how we can maintain the highest level of security with the data we hold or process.

If you would like further information on this achievement please feel free to contact us.

 

Mike O’Byrne

Operations Manager