Living in Scotland, we have become accustomed to a First Minister adept at deflecting attention from her domestic record by pointing to the “shambles” at Westminster (Boris was a gift that kept on giving!). Out of the blue, Nicola Sturgeon resigns, leaving the SNP Government in shock.
As global stock markets drift in a southerly direction, I have been ruminating on the extent to which our current financial crisis mirrors that of the UK financial crisis of 1972 to 1975. And whether, despite the many challenges that face our new Prime Minister, there are any reasons to be cheerful?
2020 has been an extraordinarily stressful and challenging time for us all and we hope you have managed to come through lockdown safe and well. We are facing a global humanitarian crisis, and the economy has been dealt a near-mortal blow. Many aspects of life, previously taken for granted, have changed forever.
The Coronavirus pandemic and its effect on stock markets has now been with us for over a month. We have seen dramatic falls in asset prices across the globe, as uncertainty about the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the likely duration of the current lockdown are as yet unknown.
Stock markets continue to be febrile and you will be understandably nervous about your savings. My advice is to try to igonore valuations. Coronovirus uncertainty has led to some dramatic falls in prices but, on Friday, markets were up and the upswing in valuations were just as dramatic.
Stock markets round the world continue to react nervously to hourly bulletins of Coronavirus news. Many of you will never have experienced such dramatic falls in share prices and it is unequivocally an unnerving experience.
Stock markets have seen steep falls over the last few weeks, with last Monday’s drop already being called ‘Black Monday’ and likened, post-ante, to 1987, 2000 and even the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.
For the last few weeks of February, the UK has been soaked by a succession of winter storms that have seen the most extensive flooding for a generation. As we sit under February’s leaden skies, a new even more frightening threat barrels in to cheer our winter hearts, a brand-new flu like virus that spreads like a common cold. Coronavirus, an Asian flu pandemic has gripped the nation and whipped up a media maelstrom. Earlier this week, the six nations rugby game, Ireland v Italy, was cancelled. The bars of Temple Bar will not be happy.
Welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of News from the Mews. I have been helped in this edition by the Hamilton Financial Advisory Panel and by our new boy, Simon Milne. Here is a summary of the contents:
1) The HF Advisory Panel’s forecast of the General Election result on 12th December 2019.
2) Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning.
3) The Hamilton Financial Investment style.
4) Minutes of Meeting of the HF Advisory Panel on 29th November 2019.
5) An account of my first month with Hamilton Financial by Simon Milne.
Years ago, I remember my parents telling me to put a regular amount every month into a savings plan. (I wish I had listened more carefully!)
This was in the days before pension plans, with all their tax benefits. I also remember being told that if you invest in a regular savings plan, such as a unit trust plan, it doesn’t much matter whether stock markets go up or down – “you will benefit from pound cost averaging”.
So what is pound cost averaging? In simple terms, it means that if the market value of your unit trust savings plan falls, it doesn’t matter: the cost of the next unit (or units) you buy will be cheaper – so the average cost of all the units you hold will have reduced. (For those of us who don’t have lump sums
to invest, it is quite good to know that it’s not all doom and gloom if the markets fall!)