Still climbing the wall of worry

At any other time, a three percent bounce during May in the pan- European (including the U.K.) equity markets and the driest fifth month of the year in large swathes of the country since 1929, would represent an ideal entry into the summer months. However – despite recent lockdown liberalisations – these are far from normal times.

The end of the beginning

Over three hundred and fifty years ago, back in 1665, Isaac Newton socially distanced himself from the horrors of the then rampant bubonic plague and – away from his burgeoning academic career at Trinity College in Cambridge – enjoyed a ‘year of wonders’ at his childhood home. During this period he formulated a theory of universal gravitation, explored optics and discovered differential and integral calculus.

COVID-19 and market update

As the COVID-19 situation develops at home and abroad we have taken responsible measures in accordance with Government guidelines to protect clients and family alike. We have therefore suspended face to face client meetings until further notice. We will of course be contacting clients to arrange a telephone or video call as a suitable alternative to continue with our scheduled ongoing reviews.

A Journey through the Unknown

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to unprecedented volatility and tremendous declines in wealth, but we have faith that once the pandemic is defeated, the wild swings in the financial markets will abate and prosperity will return. But what cannot be so easily recovered is the loss of a job, the loss of a business, or, worst of all, the loss of a loved one. While it is our duty to provide timely market insights, please know that now, more than ever, the health and safety of you and your families is at the forefront of our minds.

Thoughts on Market Volatility Surrounding Coronavirus

A successful investor faces many hurdles, some of which are external and some internal. Monday’s dramatic fall on the global markets – the worst in a single day for two years, or four years, depending on which major European or American equity index you wished to cite – could not fail to capture attention.

How January goes, so goes the rest of the year?

I am not going to ask you about how your New Year resolutions are shaping up, but the observation above about the tenuous nature of many of them is a not unusual occurrence for many of us. Naturally, the same can happen with financial market predictions. Thoughts that appeared valid and respectful considerations about the upcoming twelve months, can seem by the end of January  tarnished and facile. Such is the nature of financial markets.

Investment Strategy Quarterly – Jan 2020

As someone who needs glasses, I know firsthand that 20/20 vision and the ability to experience the beauty and clarity of life is amazing. As we embark on the start of a new year, clarity and foresight is exactly what investors are seeking, especially with the daily dose of unprecedented headlines we receive. In hindsight, the guidance our team of economists, strategists, and portfolio managers gave last year proved prescient as ~90% of our ten themes for 2019 were accurate.

Welcome to the season of perpetual hope

Judging by the preponderance of retail sales offers throughout November in my email inbox, the rise and rise of ‘Black Friday’ should completely randomise the precise timing of this year’s Christmas retail spending. Similarly for those who think about financial markets, the three percent rise in pan-European indices during the eleventh month of this year – particularly when mated with the very low levels of volatility seen across the prices of many asset classes during the month – appears to have also pulled forward the traditional ‘Santa rally’.

Rotation should be a beautiful word for investors

October historically has always been a big month for investors. In my formative years back in the 1980s during one October, there was a major market crash (and weirdly simultaneously in the U.K. an extreme weather event in southern England), meanwhile those interested in older historical events will recall the events of October 1929 and the infamous capital market events back then. A lot has happened in the month of October that has just passed and whilst it is unlikely the history books will remember the tenth month of 2019 assertively, for investors thinking about prospects over the next year, it may have been critical.

Harmony with Europe

Despite the hyperbole, insults and reporting of the Brexit debates where the most extreme views of each side are highlighted and the poor behaviour of some provides us with depressing entertainment, I have found evidence that the world of business is continuing.


Trade Like a Dragon, Tweet Like an Eagle

The “Wizard of Oz” celebrated a magical milestone in August, returning to the town of its original screening to commemorate its eightieth anniversary. Decades after its release, many of the movie’s characters and themes provide parallels to today’s economy and financial markets.

Back to school

I hope you enjoyed a good break over the summer holiday period, because there is a lot to think about over the final four months of 2019 and beyond.

They just cannot get enough

The above is not a Presidential tweet but a musing from Donald rump’s time as a property baron and television personality. An experienced investor would undoubtedly agree – sometimes you have to walk away, take a loss or change a strategy.

Unexpected Consequences – July Newsletter

Snack manufacturers are enjoying a boost in sales in American states that have decriminalised marijuana.

We Wealth Managers and of course you, our clients, don’t know about these things; however, scientific research suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in Marijuana releases a hormone that triggers hunger pangs and a neurotransmitter that increases appetite! I believe in some circles this phenomenon is known as “The Munchies”.

Investment Strategy Quarterly

Celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the Academy Award-winning movie Forrest Gump, we revisit many of the movie’s themes which remain relevant in today’s world. Forrest Gump’s mother always said that “Life was like a box of chocolates.” This memorable observation could just as easily be applied to the financial markets, as you never know what volatility-inducing headline you’re going to get next.

One of those months?

With ‘fast fashion’ being so prevalent in today’s world, perhaps we should not be surprised that Oscar Wilde’s dictum looks a little slow as the world only racked up four successively positive months before a reversal. May 2019 will not go down in the financial market almanacs as anything other than a shabby month, with the regional pan-European share index falling around 5% and more than reversing any gains seen earlier in the quarter. Broadly speaking, this performance pattern in May – supplemented by the compression of sovereign bond yields – was repeated all over the world.

Financial markets: never easy but always fascinating

Thinking about everyone’s favourite subject, it was striking to read that a well-known UK consumer confidence index indicator released in the last few days was flat for the third month in a row, with an accompanying write-up that included the comment that ‘despite political carry-on in the Westminster bubble with the clock ticking on Britain’s eventual departure from the EU, consumers are holding firm and remain unshaken by the daily headlines of turmoil and intrigue’. Too right that there is a real and breathing UK economy still out there… and that the ongoing Brexit debate does not need to exclusively define the UK economy and its prospects.

10 Years Bull Market Reckoning with Records

Despite numerous headwinds, 2019 is gearing up to be a celebratory year with record-breaking achievements on many financial and economic fronts. In particular, in the United States we just toasted the S&P 500 as it celebrated the ten-year anniversary of the secular bull market in March.

Budget Newsletter

The Spring Statement is not meant to be a major event. In announcing the date of the Statement this year, the Treasury emphasised that “there will now only be one major fiscal event each year”, i.e. the Autumn Budget. However, on the day after a 149 vote government Brexit defeat, the Chancellor’s view on the UK’s financial and economic situation could hardly be classed as a routine report.

Searching for believers

Welcome to March, a time in the past when I have gone all Shakespearean in my written musings and quoted the famous words imagined uttered to Julius Caesar before his assassination. It looks as if the Ides of March (typically regarded as the fifteenth day of the month) will be just after a series of further Brexit related votes which could provide the greater clarity consumers, industrialists, politicians and investors seem to desire. As one economic survey, focused on the view of UK manufacturers, strikingly put it recently: ‘The march of the makers has turned into a painful crawl, where only certainty about the Brexit way forward can ease the sector’s pain’.

Feel good

If anyone out there was predicting that January 2019 would be the strongest performance month for global equity markets in over seven years, I would be grateful if they could be pointed out to me as I would like to shake their hand.

2019 Outlook

If you had to sum up why world, ex-US, financial markets typically underperformed during 2018 then economic growth, currency movements, and trade talk uncertainties would be the three most influential headwinds. Simply put, U.S. economic growth surprised on the upside whilst other major economies did not, the dollar appreciated against most other currencies, and concerns about essential future trading relations impacted the more export-focused European and emerging markets last year. In order for international markets to gain momentum over the U.S. in 2019, these concerns need to be quelled.

What a year 2018 was!!

About a year ago UK and US markets reached record highs with President Trump declaring “The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me”.

Now he is blaming Jerome Powell, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve (a man he appointed).

It is good to talk

I realise the title above sounds a little like a famous advert from the 1990s (other telecoms operators are available) but, at least during the last month, the world’s political and economic leaders have continued to talk. And talking is just what they need to do. Of course making a few decisions is even better… so thank goodness the season of perpetual hope is almost upon us. More on the global financial markets Christmas presents wish list later.

Budget Newsletter

A Budget in October is unusual, but there are two main reasons why the Chancellor’s performance marginally pre-empted Halloween this year. The first is that we are now in the new cycle of Autumn Budgets and Spring Statements, the première of the latter having been made on 13 March.


For a number of months now, the world’s largest survey of fund managers has observed that, when asked for their greatest financial market fear, the most cited response has been a ‘trade war’. There is a significant slug of rationality for this.

No-deal fears spark a stockpiling stampede

As the intensity of fears of a no deal Brexit rise, it is clear that businesses are quietly going about their business and taking the necessary steps to keep trading. From steel to chocolate, from drugs to vinyl material, companies are putting plans in place to build up stocks of materials in case there is unrest at the ports.

Back to School

In the global investment strategy calendar there is only one period of time that can compare with the turn of the year in terms of importance… and that is the back to school period.

Hot, hot, hot!!!

Despite the usual weather downers such as the tennis at Wimbledon or the start of the school holidays, July was a warm month pretty much anywhere you looked in the northern hemisphere. Global stock markets were hot too, led by the out-of-favour emerging markets and Continental Europe. Funny how all throughout June and July the aggregate investment flow data was profoundly negative for both regions…

Newsletter – May 2018

We have been busy rebalancing your portfolios and where possible sweeping up and ensuring we have taken advantage of Capital Gains Tax allowances for the financial year 2017/18 just ending to keep your investments as tax efficient as we can.

Newsletter – October 2017

Attached are our quarterly valuations to the end of September. Across the board the portfolios have delivered performance in line with expectations with values falling back a little during September primarily on the back of Donald Trump, North Korea and what one might call slight confusion on the strategy for Brexit!

Newsletter – August 2017

Taking the media (including social media) as a whole, one could be forgiven for believing that the end of the UK as we know it is upon us and that a seismic shift will start to take place.

Newsletter – June 2017

We attach our European strategist Chris Bailey’s commentary and our summary and strategy is as follows; The forthcoming General Election will bring political change whatever the outcome.

Monthly Market Commentary – May 2017

Whilst ‘Brenda from Bristol’ captivated the British public with her displeasure about the upcoming UK election, investors elsewhere in Europe were celebrating as the first round of the French Presidential contest appeared to continue the trend started by the Dutch vote in March of stepping away from the populist brink.

Newsletter – April 2017

On Wednesday 29th March the UK gave official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the UK/EU divorce proceedings (just in case you missed it). Since the Referendum there has been plenty of speculation about what the divorce will mean for the UK and the rest of Europe, all of it meaningless, as in our view the outcome is impossible to predict, particularly if the UK invades Spain to secure Gibraltar!

Budget Newsletter – March 2017

This Budget was Mr Hammond’s first – and last – Spring Budget. From now on Budgets will take place in Autumn and there will be a financial statement each Spring. Thus, the next Budget is probably a little over eight months away although, as 2016 revealed, much can happen even over such a brief period.

Newsletter – January 2017

There is a lot to be said for keeping life simple particularly when it comes to investing. Last year in 2016 this was more evident than ever. Who could have predicted Brexit, Trump and that Marmite would rise in price by 12.5%!!

Budget Newsletter – November 2016

The last Budget on 16 March now seems a distant memory from a past era. Back then the Chancellor was George Osborne, the Prime Minister was David Cameron, the UK looked likely to remain a member of the EU after 23 June and Donald Trump was not considered a serious US presidential candidate.

Newsletter – October 2016

As you will note, portfolios across the board are all up strongly since the start of July, more than making up for a slow first half of the year as shown in the chart below. So much for the negative impact on Brexit that all the commentators made following the EU Referendum result!

Newsletter – July 2016

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”. It is still early days after last week’s momentous Referendum and a week later, given all the headlines in the news, one would have expected to see investment markets decimated.

Brexit Newsletter – June 2016

June 23rd’s Referendum will be the biggest political choice many of us will make in our lifetime. It certainly will affect our economy, as well as our sovereignty, security, foreign policy and immigration to name just the headlines.

European referendum: remain or leave?

All investors are likely to agree that ‘Brexit’ is an ungainly word that is likely to be heard far too often in the remaining time before the European Union ‘remain/leave’ vote on 23 June. But what should voters – and investors – think? Here we make the case for both sides… and leave the ultimate decision up to you.

April Newsletter

Despite the volatility in equity markets over the last quarter, valuations are up slightly and the mix of defensive and growth assets remains largely unchanged and for this reason the rebalance trading activity on the portfolio has been minimal.


This was Mr Osborne’s third Budget within the space of a year, even if you disregard the quasibudget measures announced in November’s Autumn Statement. Since last March’s preelection Budget Mr Osborne has been quietly tightening the tax screws with, for example, the revisions to dividend taxation and a new employment tax in the guise of an apprenticeship levy.