In Difficult Times, Focus On What You Can Control
“Absolutely the worst thing that anyone could do with their investments is to cash everything in.”
You don't need us to tell you that these are unusual times. We wouldn't be human if we weren't concerned about unfolding events, given the effect that the epidemic has already had on society. Our news bulletins contain nothing else, and it's easy to get consumed by fear. Unlike the 2008 banking crisis, there is a potential risk to life this time, and the Government have been prepared to take significant action with the economy to be able to meet this threat. It appears that this action is working.
As a result of Government advice we’ve made some changes to our policy in respect of face-to-face meetings at our offices. We explain further below, and we urge you to read this section as it may affect our interactions with you.
Before that, though, let’s reflect for a moment on the situation in which we find ourselves. Our Chairman, Andy Jervis, said: “Humans are not good at estimating risks, and often we make decisions based on our perceptions which can be very different from reality.
The media isn’t helpful in this regard. I attended a presentation a few years ago at which a former TV news personality explained that, typically, the news media features 17 bad news stories for every 1 good news story.
This ratio is maintained because the news people know from their audience measurement that it is the optimum ratio to keep people viewing and/or reading.……. Bad news is a drug habit that requires constant feeding. Don’t become an addict.”
When humans find themselves under threat, their natural response is to seek more information. But too much information is counter-productive. Trying to understand a complex and rapidly developing situation is a big task, requiring thorough knowledge of the subject area and experience in dealing with similar situations. In the absence of these, confusion becomes the overriding emotion, which leads to uncertainty, fear and even panic. If you find yourself succumbing to these, our advice is to take a step back and reflect on how much of your thinking is real, and how much is a false projection of what might be, based on over-dramatic news headlines.
Where knowledge and experience are present, it is possible to gain a clear understanding of the risks and begin to formulate an effective plan to mitigate them, and this is where we are able to help.
We are dedicated to working with you to create and implement a Plan that will give you the highest probability that you will achieve your goals, to get your entire financial house in perfect order, and to have a great life! By continuing to focus on the things you can control you will remain ready for the inevitable upturn and recovery. No-one can predict the future, but we can be sure the crisis will end.
Your Investment Strategy
In 1933 Sir John Templeton, one of the greats in the history of investing, said, “ ‘This time is different’…are the four most costly words in the annals of investing.” From our viewpoint, having lived through numerous financial crises over the last forty years, we remain convinced that the right response is to ride through the situation until the inevitable recovery. Absolutely the worst thing that anyone could do with their investments is to cash everything in. All this achieves is to immediately guarantee a loss with no prospect of recovery. If you want to understand the reasons why you should remain invested, the various articles on our blog will help to guide you, including valuable comments from our Investment Director, Richard Urwin.
The reality is that, as happened in 2008-9, the market reaction has thrown up some hugely attractive opportunities. As an example, here’s a note from Richard to our Financial Planning Team; Empiric Student Property plc (one of the holdings in our portfolios) announced its annual results today. They’ve had a good year. If you read the sections on the strength of the market in the next academic year and the likely student numbers both UK and overseas that the UK is likely to have over the next decade it is very encouraging.
The share price hasn’t responded positively, off 10% as I write this which leave the shares at a 54% discount to Net Asset Value and a 10% yield. This is surely a massive overreaction. Students will not be travelling the world on gap year next year and they certainly won’t be fancying their chances in the employment market without further education. The halls will be full next year even if they are working at their desks doing online lectures. This has to be a buying opportunity.
This is definitely not the time when professional investors are selling everything. It is the time when they start buying. Don’t allow your emotions to blind you to common sense.
Your Financial House
Continuing to do the work of reviewing your portfolio, capitalizing on tax-saving opportunities, monitoring your cash balances and income needs, and adjusting your Plan as required, is the route to long term success.
Getting all of your necessary paperwork completed and up-to-date is another plank of your Plan. You may wish to review your Wills and related documents, your pension death benefit nominations and your health insurance arrangements. Knowing that all of this is under control is really helpful in dealing with the storms that come along, and even the occasional hurricanes.
Your Business Plan
Our Accounting Team are busy working with our clients to deal with the potential impact of the coronavirus, and to interpret and access Government assistance as new provisions are announced by the Chancellor. If you are in business and seeking practical guidance, they will be pleased to hear from you.
Our Solicitors understand your concerns, and they are skilled at turning your wishes into legally binding documents. Should the worst happen, you’ll know that you did everything you could do to provide for your family.
Someone to Talk To
Our Financial Planners, Accountants and Solicitors understand that sometimes you don’t just want advice, you need someone to talk to. They are all really good at listening to your concerns, helping you to put things into perspective, and suggesting actions that you can take that are within your control and which contribute to your Plan. Please don’t hesitate to call on them.
Our Future Meeting Policy
Important changes to our procedure
We want to give you great service, but we also want to help ensure your safety, and the safety of our team, whilst the coronavirus remains a threat within the UK.
As a result of government advice we are asking our clients and customers to request a face-to-face meeting only where there is no other alternative. We will be arranging all meetings by telephone or web conference by default until further notice.
Our offices remain open for business as usual, but we have made arrangements for a number of staff to work from home and the person you are dealing with may not be present in the office if you call in person.
Our office communications allow all of our staff to contact you by phone, e-mail or web meeting wherever they are located, and these procedures should not have any significant impact on the work we do for you or our ability to carry it out.
If you feel that a face-to-face meeting is essential please contact our office and we will discuss possible alternatives, and if the meeting is necessary we’ll explain the arrangements for meeting with you.
Keeping You Well Informed
If you are signed up to our regular email newsletters you will already have seen some of the items mentioned above. If you don’t receive them you can sign up for them here. Check your spam folder to make sure that our messages are getting through (call us if you need help with this). Email will remain our first line of communication for most of our clients.
Investment Advice - Our latest advice and comments on investment markets can be found on our Blog. Sign up for our newsletter to receive future updates as they are issued.
Wills - We have experienced a rise in enquiries for Wills, and we will be pleased to help you to make sure that your arrangements are up-to-date. You will need to make a telephone appointment with one of our Solicitors to begin with, please contact our office. You should be aware that our Team have a lot of enquiries to deal with, but we are working hard to serve our clients to the high standard that is our hallmark.
Business advice - Our Accounting Team have been helping our business clients to cope with the damaging effects of the crisis on their situations. If you need help, you can contact our Team for advice.
These are highly unusual times, and we are doing everything we can to help protect our clients and guide them through the turbulence. Call us if you have any other query that you think we can help you with. Our Team are ready and waiting to serve you.
And finally, some practical help…
One of the really encouraging aspects of the ‘lockdown’ has been the rise of groups of people and individuals who are volunteering to make life easier for people affected. Our Team have been discussing how we can help, and if you are someone in quarantine or self-isolating and need help with shopping, supplies or just a friendly phone call, please let us know. With over 60 people on our Team we probably have someone living near you, or know someone who does. We’d really love to help – you only have to ask.
From all of us at Chesterton House
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