Sometimes the words just don’t come easy. It’s hard to discuss subjects where opinions are dramatically split. At the best of times keeping up writing the blog is only possible after I have satisfied all client enquiries, all regulatory obligations and the continual studying of the day to day gyrations of global stock markets. Apologies to my fellow Catholics (I’m not practising) within our business congregation, but;
“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been almost 2 months since my last confession”Dave Allen
Let me explain. It’s not that there has been too little to write about, it’s possibly because there has been too much to consider, to then condense and then pass on within blogs. The media has said everything there is to say, over and over again. I could see little merit it just giving you my additional slant on Biden, Vaccines and Brexit. We have all been bombarded with endless news, facts and charts. Like many of you I have been suffering from information overload. The flow has been relentless, every waking hour something is added that warrants our consideration.
We have stayed focussed on the things that matter and the things we can control. I hope you have all managed to do the same. The business remains fully functional. Lesley, Charlie and myself have been at the office on most days. Melissa and Lucas have continued to mainly work from home. We can’t see this changing anytime before Christmas, possibly not before the tail end of the annual flu season. Forget work from home – versus – work from the office. The future is work from anywhere and everywhere. Each month that passes we improve our internal systems, which makes remote team collaboration increasingly efficient. If the business was starting over again today, would we commit to buying an office in the professional centre of Bolton? Probably not.
The New Normal
- The team converses virtually over FaceTime everyday.
- I have only held 2 face to face meetings since March, the rest have been virtual or over the telephone.
- Our telephone system now rings in up to five locations at once! That hasn’t been without its teething troubles believe me. Changing telephony providers is for the brave.
- We have adopted electronic signatures using Adobe Sign, again not universally accepted by clients yet, but progress is slowly being made.
- Very little needs to be posted now, most documents are created and sent electronically. The documents are largely accepted by most investment providers now.
- We have hit every deadline for client withdrawals and successfully invested client top-ups.
Most of the changes we have made are internal, as clients you will have not seen much difference. You have probably noticed the brand changes, the website has gone greener and if you have driven past the office recently, we now have a bright new sign. The sign perhaps makes us more visible, but we have tried to disappear in other ways over the summer.
The Invisibility Cloak
If you didn’t already know we existed as a business, you would now have trouble finding us on Google. We don’t pay to be listed on any “professional adviser” websites. We have never paid for “qualified leads”, although there seems to be a continual flow of businesses who try to persuade us we should. As we become less visible to Google, the number of unsolicited calls and approaches we used to receive daily are now reducing. This is leaving us more time to provide a better service for our clients.
The downside of hiding from Google, is that if other things do not change, we will eventually shrink and finally die as a business. Hopefully that will take a very long time because it has always been our existing clients that have recommended the vast majority of new clients to us. I don’t believe it is naive to believe more clients will be recommended simply because we strive to continually do a better job for our existing clients. We also prefer potential clients to know how we work before they consider joining us. Nothing beats a glowing recommendation in business, not even a high Google listing.
We have an additional Financial Adviser
Charlie has focussed on the things that matter and the things she can control too, and despite many, many social distancing restrictions, has now passed her professional exams. She has now added a full set of financial adviser qualifications to her legal qualifications. Charlotte Scott BA(Hons) GDL LPC Dip PFS. She too is now open for business.
Spreading the Net
We believe the virtual world will offer our firm increasing opportunities in the future, even as we strive to all but kill off everyday internet enquiries from strangers. You see many clients have wanted to recommend further family and friends to us in the past, but the miles used to get in the way. We want to look after more like minded individuals and can now do so without them leaving their own homes and braving the motorway system. They can now enjoy the same service our other clients receive, whether they live in Land’s End or John o’Groats.
Please fell free to recommend us and help us to build the next 30 years of our business for Charlie, Lucas and Melissa. We are in no hurry. Steady does it, but if anyone springs to mind please feel free to pass our blogs on to them.
As the dust starts to settle after a traumatic tax year end, it is now time to use our clients ISA allowances where possible. Over the coming weeks we will be in contact with some clients as we sell down some funds in their General accounts and re-invest those funds into their tax free ISA accounts.
- If any clients would prefer to use spare savings in their bank accounts instead by all means please contact us.
- As we are later in the tax year than usual converting General Accounts into ISAs, please contact us if you have already touched this years annual ISA allowance elsewhere.
So that’s all I wanted to say currently. Except…
In the politically incorrect days of my youth, there used to be beauty contests run by Eric Morley. It was called Miss World and was a biggie. Maybe Miss World still exists, they are just not the TV extravaganzas they once were. When we watched we all picked our winners, but rarely if ever did we get it right. You see we were judging the beauty of the girls, and we are subjected to our own biases. Some like blondes and so on.
Of course we should have been studying the judges not the contestants. By judging the judges, we could have better predicted the results.
Often the girl who won wasn’t the universally acknowledged prettiest one, instead it was the one deemed to be the prettiest my the small selection of people in control of the competition. It also usually happened to be the girl who just wanted world peace and was looking to travel the world in a one piece swimsuit and a shiny off the shoulder sash.
The Real World
The investment markets are filled with judges who put their money where their mouth is every day. These judges continually assess opportunity, lightening up on investments when they deem things have gone too far and then increasing allocations when the tide changes. The difference is, there are not just 3 or 6 judges. There are millions of judges and tens of thousands of computer algorithms also. To thrive in the market there is no point judging the merits of individual companies, you have to study the opinion of the judges.
We can continually assess where our clients perception of their opportunity lies. Every conversation gives us clues as to how people feel today. Without looking at valuations regularly, clients always think they are worse off than their portfolio valuations suggest. The emphasis the media places on negative news, does that to all of us. However every once in a while optimism grows and judging by the interactions I have had over the last week or so, that time is getting much closer. Indeed it is that general sentiment that drives valuations higher. Most questions I receive currently involve buying investments rather than questioning whether we should sell them.
Nothing is fixed yet, but there is a promise of better times to come. The problems will always remain and from time to time our hopes will be dashed, but I believe the tides are turning as the markets as usual remain focussed on the future 18 months. Prepare for some portfolio changes soon. I will be buying more shortly I think.
If you want to make a larger than usual withdrawal in the next couple of months and have not mentioned it yet, please get in touch.