Testing Times

These are testing times. I’ve talked before about my feelings of anger in What Next! and Charlie countered that emotion with her blog entitled Finding Joy. Thankfully this blog isn’t going to be about coronavirus testing at all, even though Bolton seems to have become notorious as a party town, inhabited by gangs of soap dodgers.

No the testing I’m referring to is the daily test we are being subjected to as investors. Everyday, another UK company makes thousands of individuals redundant and declares as upbeat an earnings call as they can. We have seen a gradual fall in the value of our savings over the last few months as it has become clear that the recovery has been kicked down the road somewhat. This year may even turn into a reprieve from death row for countless turkeys.

The Behaviour Gap

The graphic above is what I look to when I get sidetracked. It’s OK to worry and speculate over what could happen but there’s no point really. We need to focus on those things that matter which also lie within our control. It was given to me by Carl Richards when I attended one of his workshops. His financial graphics are powerful stuff.


So as the year limps along we find ourselves back in the period where traditionally we all make our money. Shares over the summer months rarely perform as well as they do over the northern hemisphere winter. This is not a fact, because there are no facts in investment, but 7 years out of 10 it proves to be true. This year we may not be “away at the races” as early as we have in other years, as we have that other contentious test due in the USA at the beginning of November. You know, that TV gameshow where one contestant drinks bleach daily whilst tweeting and the other seems to suffer from early onset dementia. The markets have already assessed the implications should either comedian win, but there is an issue if there is no clear winner. The markets don’t like uncertainty.

October is also make or break time for a free trade deal to be sealed with Europe. There will be no deal at the end of the year unless it is thrashed out by Halloween at the latest. Neither side can afford that nightmare, so both will declare victory with some kind of fudged “deal”. The chance of no deal is possible but slim, and markets will be volatile whilst the damage is fully assessed.

How are we doing?

Let me take you back a year, to a time when the world had not yet been struck down by a virus so deadly we were all likely to die from it. October is a time to look at our scorecards and shortly Nucleus and Investcentre will be issuing their quarterly statements. It will be bad news yes? Well not as bad as we feared if we maintained a Moderate approach to investment risk thought the period as 68% of our clients do. Even those in our Adventurous Portfolio ended the last 12 up. Just.

For those of you who don’t read charts very easily, here are the numbers.

OrangeOur Moderate Grow Portfolio4.32%
BlueOur Long Term Target Line7.15%
GreenPeer 1-Investment Association Moderate total return0.73%
YellowPeer 2-Sterling Balanced Asset0.97%
Our Moderate Portfolio return is after all fees and charges, our peer group comparisons do not include advice fees or platform costs.

It may have felt at various points that we had little control over events, such as the huge uplift after the UK general election, the biggest fall that I have witnessed in a 32 year career and the strong initial recovery thereafter. However our team remained focussed and we dug deep to find the data and facts that told the true story as it unfolded. The big calls we made in April have led us to a profit. Now all we need is a tailwind to end 2020 in positive territory. 🤞


The virus has taken a greater toll of the have nots. Those who could not work from home in mostly lower paid jobs were furloughed, many are now facing redundancy. Those retired or that could work from home have not been challenged financially at all. In fact not being able to spend any money has helped them. During April, May and June, UK domestic customers’ bank accounts swelled by £14 billion per month. Since June that “brass in pocket” has begun to be spent. Try buying a new car, caravan, mobile home or boat right now. You can’t. Individuals are moving house at a rate I have only seen a couple of times in 32 years. Many clients have started to take a holiday again. Most have unsurprisingly remained within the British Isles.

Lesley and I go to the Inner Hebrides for a week soon, if you know us well you will understand that this is unusual. We are really looking forward to it. We leave the business for a week in the capable hands of Charlotte, Melissa & Lucas. I do not know what to expect, I doubt I will have a great 4G connection for much of the time.

If you have any experience of connectivity in the Inner Hebrides please share it. In fact please tell us all of the great places we must visit. I would like to see the UK’s two greatest birds of prey, the Golden Eagle and the White Tailed Sea Eagle, again if you have any experience please share it.

After this non-stop period it matters that we all take a break. We can’t control what would happen if we tried to get abroad right now, so we must focus on a break we have some control over. Unless Nicola hears we are from Bolton. 😳

4 Replies to “Testing Times”

  1. Much to see on Skye & Mull (dearth of decent sandy beaches though). If you have the time, take the ferry from Fionnphort to Staffa & visit Fingal’s Cave.

  2. Hello Howard
    A clear and concise report on a mostly negative year but at least we know the direction we are facing , unlike the disjointed approach that our government is relaying, but these are unprecedented times and we all have to be safe be well and considerate of the worlds direction.

    Enjoy your break and l hope that you get some decent weather

    Best wishes to all

  3. You and your team are doing very well Howard. I’m sure there are a lot of investors who would like to be in our shoes at this dodgy time. Thank you.
    I have done quite a bit of sailing around Mull and the Inner Hebrides. It’s the most beautiful area on the Planet. Sea Eagles are often seen in the south east coastal areas of Mull near Craignure. Not seen any Golden Eagles around there. They are probably more visible in the Highlands. Often see Eiders in Tobermoray area.
    Look out for dolphins and whales, sometimes Orcas and plenty of otters on the sea shore.Enjoy!

  4. The “inner Hebrides” each have their own identity with a common theme to all…
    Islay noted for almost as many distilleries as locals and old ones being re-opened..
    Jura for more deer than humans and a lovely distillery
    Scarba is one side of the “witches cauldron” aka gulf of Corrybhrecan..
    Then then Luing and the Garvellachs ending up in Mull
    -a haven for all and a distillery as well
    The wildlife can be found but speaking of which there are whales in the Firth of Clyde that have a gps problem
    Enjoy enjoy 😉
    P.S. did you see the common theme??

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