As we seem to be nearing a gradual lessening of the lockdown rules, I thought I’d send a newsletter which I hope you find useful and perhaps a source of reference.
If you need to speak to us about anything, we can email/Skype/Zoom and telephone.
On behalf of everyone at Med-Ex, Debbie, Zoe, Teresa, Diane, Michael and me, we hope that you, your family and friends are well and finding things to keep you occupied during these strange times.
It has been a month or so since my last email – time seems to have flown in between.
Your Annual Review!
We have been very busy WFH (working from home) and solving problems via Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, email and the good old telephone. Many of you will know that we have been able to provide reviews online for 2 years now so our routine is tried and tested. It has been very useful to enable us to continue providing annual reviews this way but it’s not to say we haven’t had a few obstacles and issues.
Will it be the future? I hope that the choice is always available – the success of a virtual meeting is not just about getting to the end and ticking all those boxes in an hour and a half. It’s about making sure that our clients have been able to feel free about the agenda they want to cover and that any questions have been answered or at least understood.
I have to say that I especially miss the drive after a client meeting. I got used to reflecting and contemplating on the conversations and discussions and this analysis often enabled me to write up my notes more effectively.
Annual Reviews during Covid-19
Anyway, we are trying to keep to schedule regarding annual reviews but if you would like one, then do call/email us.
- For those of you who have had a Skype/Zoom/telephone review during Covid-19, we are also offering a follow-up, if required ahead of your next annual review.
- If you are unable to keep to your usual annual review during Covid-19, we will still send out the review paperwork we usually provide. This is an important part of our service, especially for investments etc.
- You can of course postpone to a later date.
- We recommend online/virtual meetings are via an iPad/tablet at the very least. Preferably not a smart phone. Interestingly fewer and fewer people seem to have PCs and big screens at home these days but if you do, then we can provide a camera, which is yours to keep, as this enhances the experience and the value of the meeting.
Investment values since March 2020
So world markets responded to the impact of coronavirus by dropping over 30% – e.g. London FTSE 100 which might be considered to reflect the values of the world’s biggest stocks and shares.
This event, of course, impacted the majority of our clients investment funds (pensions, ISAs etc) but largely not to the same extent. The majority of client portfolios went down by 12-18% at that time.
Regular client annual review preparation means that we are able to check the values of client holdings as they change and I would say that in the main, client holdings are currently down maybe 5-8% for the majority of portfolios we have seen.
This is not to say markets could fall again but the tendency is for markets to look for the positives and to find reasons to increase in value. It has been interesting to note as well the fact that markets haven’t really reacted to the forecast economic figures and statistics published as a result of the impact of Covid-19. It looks as though the markets have already priced-in the fact that we’re in a recession with high unemployment and low growth.
So our interpretation of the way that markets are responding is that they are edging back to previous values, albeit slowly. They are looking for reasons to be optimistic probably measured against the economy before Covid-19 and hen we can get back to full productivity.
Our portfolios are designed and delivered with risk diversity at the centre. Hopefully you will recollect how important we believe that your risk profile should be matched with careful portfolio construction and regular reviews. Usually at least 40% of our clients portfolios is invested in Defensive assets like bonds and fixed interest securities and government bonds which tend to stabilise the “boat” when seas get choppy and stormy.
If you do have any queries about the performance of your investment and/or the impact of Covid-19 and the potential aftermath, then please do call me/email me/Skype me.
Protection and Insurances…and your Will
These are usually features of our annual client reviews but it might be an idea to cast your eye over what protection you have in the event your circumstances change. Do you have enough? Do you have too much? Do you know why you have a certain insurance – is there still a need? What benefits does your employer provide you – perhaps through your pension scheme?
We have had quite a few emails about wills – how to take one out, when to rewrite a will, who to nominate as an executor, are online wills reliable. We usually record details of our clients wills at annual reviews. We believe wills are extremely important documented instructions and even in their most basic form, they can be invaluable to loved ones in the event anything happens to you.
If you want to discuss your protection, insurances, will and even lasting power of attorney needs, then do call us/email us or Skype us.
Coronavirus Government Job Retention Schemes, Business Loans, Business Grants, Bounce-Back Loans, Mortgage Holidays
Hopefully you will be aware of your eligibility for any of the above if they are relevant to you.
If you have any sort of business, it’s worth checking to see what you might be eligible for if you haven’t done so to date (perhaps because you think you can ride through Covid19). From holiday-lets to online shops and services, to accountants and businesses employing staff, if you are unsure call me/email me/Skype me – or your accountant.
I have heard quite a few success stories regarding mortgage holiday payments. The lenders are quite geared up for this now and so appear to have a slick process. At present you can apply for a mortgage payment holiday of 3 months and while this can apparently be extended, there’s no confirmation of this just yet. As and when it is it will almost certainly be announced first by HM Treasury through a Government briefing.
Note that it is just a holiday – capital payments that would have been made during the 3 month holiday will continue to be owed and interest will accrue on the sum too. But if a mortgage payment holiday makes a difference to your finances during a lockdown, then it should be a good thing.
Note also that during a mortgage payment holiday, you might find your lender, or any other lender unwilling to offer any lending services. When the holiday has ended, you should be able to pursue any lending needs and the mortgage payment holiday should not be considered against you.
Other loans and credit commitments
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has brought in emergency rules that means lenders are expected to offer customers a payment freeze of up to 3 months and this shouldn’t affect your credit rating. Given that most interest rates aren’t that high (except credit cards, perhaps), adding a small additional cost to a loan now in order that you don’t unnecessarily have to worry over meeting various costs and outgoings at this time maybe something well worth finding out more about. Discretion being the better part of valour.
Prepare yourself for some time on hold though – most banks, lenders and financial institutions are very busy at the moment.
With regard to credit card payments, there are still some balance-transfer deals available with 0% interest for up to 2 years or more. But they often come with transfer fees of over 2.5%, which will be added to the debt. Santander offers though offers 18 months with no interest and no transfer fee. Check www.moneyfacts.co.uk or call/Skype/email us.
Finally, if you have any questions at all or simply want to run something past me for a second opinion, then please do.
I look forward to hearing lots of your stories about lockdown, happy and sad, and also about how this period might have changed your outlook on anything.
I especially look forward to seeing you again though. Remember, we are still working and able to take any queries you might have.
Call us. Skype us. Email us.
Nick Miles, Diane, Debbie, Zoe, Teresa and Michael