Like the vast majority of the world’s population, I have not seen some of my close friends and family members at all in 2020, and despite priding myself on being a ‘tough old bird’, being unable to spend precious time with those we love this year has been hard for many of us!
After the shock decision of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 23 March 2020 to place the UK into full lockdown, I don’t think many of us would have thought that we would all be in the midst of another lockdown of some form as we approach the end of the year! But here we are, all doing our bit in the hope of beating this world pandemic, a year that no doubt in years to come will become the plot of a film that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will ask us about!
We have had a lot to think about, BREXIT, the build up to the US election and the impact of Biden’s victory (albeit a victory at the time of writing not accepted by Donald Trump!) together with COVID 19 and the safety aspect of using a vaccine that ‘they’ tell us is 90% effective, not to mention the logistics of getting the vaccine out to everyone in the hope that at some point in 2021 we can see a return to some kind of normality.
We have seen swings in the stock market this year with claims ranging from ‘the next big recession’ hitting the media on 23 March 2020, the lowest day in the markets resulting from Johnson’s lockdown announcement, to the outperformance of technology stocks as people spent time at home watching Netflix and ordering from Amazon. This week we have seen a return in investor sentiment to more cyclical stocks in industries such as travel, banking and hospitality as people cling to the new hope of freedom the vaccine may bring by next Spring … so where is the safe place to be with your pension and savings?
I kid you not, there are many different views and ideas on where you should be invested, with some advisers thinking they can predict what’s to come. Personally, I prefer to take a more logical view based not only on qualifications and experience but on what has worked well historically for investors over many years. That doesn’t mean investing based on what’s popular today, or yesterday, it means having an honest exchange with clients about where the world is right now and building a well-diversified portfolio offering the potential for outperformance by including tactical equity holdings in addition to multi-asset ‘steady eddies’.
We have been re-positioning our portfolios in readiness for Brexit for some time, reducing exposure to the UK and Europe and increasing exposure globally to underlying investments that we felt were unlikely to be affected by Brexit. On 23 March 2020, as the markets dropped into freefall, I held my breath and wondered how our client portfolios would react. I have 34 years experience in financial services, but never in that time have I had to navigate a world pandemic for investors…
As the Covid story unfolded, it became apparent that our repositioning for Brexit has actually served us well for the events we have seen during 2020 … as we watched our client portfolios closely, we have found that it is the tactical equity holdings that have provided excellent stability and growth this year, whilst the so called ‘steady eddies’ (multi-asset funds) have lagged and struggled to recover.
So what am I saying here? DIVERSIFICATION IS KEY! ACTIVE MANAGEMENT IS KEY! REALISTIC TARGET SETTING IN RELATION TO YOUR ATTITUDE TO RISK IS KEY! These three things are extremely important not only at the start of your investment, but during the journey too.
You’ve probably heard of the analogy ‘you wouldn’t buy a car and never service it, so why do that with your savings?’ … it’s true. If your portfolio has struggled this year, whether it’s pension or investments you hold, I strongly recommend you take a second opinion from us. We can analyse what you have in place, explain why your portfolio has struggled and share with you how our investment process differs from the norm.
Even before the pandemic hit, your financial adviser should have been re-positioning your portfolio to ensure that Brexit has the least impact and whilst I appreciate it’s impossible to always get things right, I do not accept (and history will back me up) that taking a passive stance will give you outperformance … ‘edging your bets’ with a portfolio equally split between property, cash, equities and bonds and leaving it for a long period without reviewing, will result in disappointment and lost opportunities for growth. Nothing lasts for ever, not COVID, not Trump, and not good returns on a portfolio put together previously but never adjusted!