Iceberg Ahead Captain!

Hands up if you have had enough of politics

Yep. Just about everybody is sick of the European in/out mud-slinging. It doesn’t matter what I think about whether we should remain in Europe or not. What matters is what I do for a living. After all, I’m the captain of our ship, who is called upon to meet the passengers face to face occasionally, but primarily I’m on the bridge the rest of the time to ensure the safety of our passengers and crew.

Choppy seas

If the press is to be believed, then we are about to enter rough waters. Now is not the time to choose to take shortcuts like Captain Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia did off Italy in 2012. That ended in disaster. So now having put that little picture of disaster firmly inside your head, pretty much like “The Truth” does daily, let me now take that picture away completely. Leaving Europe is not a Costa Concordia or a Titanic level event. It’s more likely to be trivial rather than life threatening and disastrous. In fact just like when The The QE2 ran aground off Southampton in 2008 on her final voyage. It resulted in a very embarrassed Captain being towed off by several tugs. No long term damage was done, the incident simply delayed her arrival by 25 minutes. The Duke of Edinburgh himself was inconvenienced! The reason for the incident was shifting sand banks. A known-unknown. We know sand can build up, we just don’t know by how much and where.

Mandatory Safety Drill

OK, let’s quickly discuss the safety features on-board HMS H.J.Scott & Co.

  • We have some of the most experienced staff in the business. The Captain has served for 29 years and never lost a soul at sea.
  • We constantly train and have plans in place should opportunity or disaster occur at any time.
  • We never rely simply on one form of propulsion. We employ different funds to carry us forward at all times to ensure we are never in danger of a single catastrophic engine failure.
Level of Alert

There has seldom been a period where there hasn’t been some perceived threat. I discussed this further in a previous blog, Goldilocks Investment Conditions.

DAX rollercoaster

  • We declared a higher state of emergency in March. Jettisoning our German DAX fund after we had made 6.9% in 6 months, taking a very convoluted path indeed. Since we left I’m pleased to say it has sunk by 7.4%.
  • We actually first entered a low state of emergency in March 2015 in response to the oil price crash. We are floating higher than usual today because we sold all of our heavy FTSE100 shares. These are the big boys which have already lost a lot of their value. If we had still been invested in our beloved Vanguard fund, today would see it valued 15.86% lower than when we sold out. Ouch. Some of that lost value is due to the uncertainty in Europe, other losses are due to uncertainty in China, but most losses are due to selling pressure from the oil producing nations. Incidentally many other wealth managers are overweight Europe currently, expecting Mario Draghi’s continued quantitive easing (printing money) to lift Europe’s assets. I agree. Just not right now.
  • We are now about to escalate our state of alert further. With effect from Monday all leave is cancelled and all staff are asked to report in. ? With less than 5 weeks to go I’m considering jettisoning further funds. After all, let’s never forget “Sell in May…..”.

UK demise

Man or Mouse?

So you can see from the above your Captain is a self-confessed chicken! At the first sign of rough water he stops and waits. Preferring more settled seas where his passengers don’t spill their Champagne. Known-unknowns are never as frightening as we think. It’s the unknown-unknowns that we should fear.

Storm and Tsunami Warnings

This ship possesses sophisticated long range forecasting tools. A whole bank of flashing lights, buzzers, bells and klaxons. We are plugged into all the media and expert commentary there is. It’s all very impressive, but I’m sorry to say, it’s no crystal ball. The last time they were tested they failed. Exit polls & Economists much wiser than me suggested a hung Parliament at the last General Election. Wrong! So instead we don’t get hypnotised by all the flashing lights and prefer to see what William Hill think. No seriously! They were correct last time with their UK General Election betting odds and so didn’t lose out to their punters. Betting is where people put their money where their mouth is. Financial Journalists and Economists shout loudest but don’t have their hard-earned cash on the line. Here’s the odds currently.

Screenshot 2016-05-19 11.47.27

For those of you who don’t understand betting odds this is what you can take from William Hill if you predict the outcome of June 23rd correctly.

  • If you bet £5 that we will remain and you are right you will get back £6.11
  • If you bet £5 that we will leave and you are right you will get back £21.00

I can’t see too many queuing up to risk a fiver to win it back along with only £1.11. Personally I’d rather bet the other way and experience the short-lived thrill of perhaps winning a full £16.00 on top of my stake. We will continue to check the odds to see if they change.

Full Steam Ahead?

Of course many ship’s Captains will continue on their journey without considering the short term dangers. Sticking with the old invest and forget insurance company way of building up life-savings. Instead their mantra is “Stick with it. It will all even itself out in the long-term. No need to worry. I’m not worried”. There is a nautical saying which I’m fond of to describe them, “The seabed is paved with the vessels of optimists”.

Our Current Course & Position

It’s very likely the UK will vote to remain in the EU. That wouldn’t be a shock to the markets. However if we vote to leave there will indeed be short-term consequences.

  • Our “English Pounds” will not buy as much “Johnny Foreigner Funny Money”. It’s comforting to know that 4 of our current funds are denominated in Dollars, Yen and Rupees, a vote to leave would help all of those holdings, as our currency weakens temporarily.
  • Probably most UK shares will take a short term fall, certainly those that haven’t already suffered. But many wealth managers are waiting for any short-term panic to buy. Like me, many have cash in the wings just waiting for the opportunity. In short we will be performing a smash and grab if the opportunity arises. Wilfully looting from those who simply panic when temporary setbacks occur.

I may look like a chicken on paper, but when things start to sink, I act like a pirate.

Please vote in my little June 23rd poll at the top right of this page.
Kindly add your comments below. Please include as many nautical terms as possible. ?

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s ingram
Guest
s ingram

well done howard i’am very impressed with this one time and tide wait for no man and hopefully we will vote out before we sink with out a trace

John Haslam
Guest
John Haslam

Fishing for comments eh? All I can add to this is there seems to be a lot of self serving politicians in this country. The stayers are putting out the frighteners now, the leavers are sounding loopy. I’ve got one foot on one side of the channel and one on the other. I do hope there are LIFEboats on this ship of yours before something nasty happens, to me, or my trousers.

Bert & June
Guest
Bert & June

We will leave it in your capable hands captain. To steer us to safety and success. Bert & June

Lucas
Admin

I think we should tell Mr. Cameron that we’re “disinclined to acquiesce to his request”, and jump ship.
Thats a 2 for 1. Nautical reference and a Pirates of the Caribbean quote.

Keith Jones
Guest
Keith Jones

I love swinging the lamp and am very pleased that you are keeping us ship shape captain! I haven’t seen Paxmans tale of European law as yet but always remember that if you want to change something you have to be a member! It definitely needs change!! But British political will is too weak. People in our country aren’t passionate enough to change so keep us on a steady course and its land ahoy for a continental break!

David Aulton
Guest
David Aulton

I’m an Inny… but you seem to have us on a steady course Cap’n Scott. Just hope the waters remain calm and that we’re not setting sail for the Antarctic!

Val
Guest
Val

Dear Captain Howard Good to be onboard Mal and John are both firmly in – they say better the devil you know…. I am probably more for staying out, but not quite made up my mind yet, I still have some questions. You are absolutely right when you say that trade will go on regardless. But there are a lot of aspects to consider besides trade – I believe that there is an element of scaremongering from the government and they don’t want to lose face in the light of having negotiated the EU deal. But why would Mr Obama… Read more »

jane gibson
Guest
jane gibson

I’m for decomissioning, having a rare moment of agreement with Tony Benn that ” the EU is a carefully constructed mechanism for eliminating all democractic influences”. I’ve always preferred to steer my own ship.

I also believe that in the longer term, the economic argument is stronger for leaving, though in the short term it will be all hands on deck whilst we head for the open sea.

Jane Gibson

Val
Guest
Val

Hi Howard

Thank you for setting up this blog, it’s good to read everyone’s opinions.
Looking at the long term, I am increasingly coming down on the side of voting out.

Val

Barrie and Val
Guest
Barrie and Val

Hi Howard, we are not in business so it is from a position of limited knowledge that we could know the real impact of the in/out decision. Our biggest concern is that we have 700+ politicians making many decisions on our behalf (because that is their job) but even they will choose to disagree on the outcomes if we vote out. How does that make it an easy decision for us to make. We are very happy to let you manage our financial world as you have explained how you will set about it and there is blind trust in… Read more »