I want to personally reach out during this difficult time when we are facing so many challenges and changes as a result of Coronavirus. I am mindful that in what can be frightening times, we all need to keep in contact, look for positives and keep spirits high.
The Coronavirus has had a significant and sudden impact on all of us. Retirement dates are being pushed back. Income from investments or rent is reducing. Plans are being cancelled. Parents of school-age children now have their lives turned upside down as they embark on a period where homeschooling and home working is the new normal. Our freedom to enjoy cultural experiences, travel and even to see our friends and family are all, temporarily, much more limited.
Despite all this, I am optimistic. Many employers were slow to adopt flexible working but are already finding their teams are more efficient and less stressed. There is no going back from that sort of change. Many of us have busy lives and often don’t spend enough time enjoying the little things. But as we spend more time together, particularly enjoying the outdoors, this episode may change ourselves and our relationships for the better. Technology is helping us stay in better contact with our friends and family than perhaps ever before, and parents will be spending more quality time with their children. These are all real positives.
Thinking about the financial implications, you will have seen that investment markets have fallen sharply which means all investors are seeing their wealth fall in value. If you are an investor and haven’t already had a notification about your investment values or looked online to check them, please do. Remember that the news headlines are usually about the FTSE100 performance (the index of the UK’s top 100 companies’ share values). However, most of our investors have no more than 50% of their portfolio in shares, not just in the UK, but in Europe and North America. This is usually balanced out by other types of investments which aim to soften the portfolio and reduce its risk. That means although money will have been lost, it will rarely be as bad as the news headlines make it appear. Also, there are just two important investment prices to be aware of: the price you buy your investment at, and the price you sell it for. Everything in between that is just part of the journey.
We recently sent out an investment update to our clients about Coronavirus and the impact on investments. You can view this here.
The last few days have brought further news that many property funds have stopped trading. For the majority, this is because there are rules in place to stop them from trading when they can’t be certain about what their properties are worth. In the circumstances, the pause in trading is very sensible and provides them with time to revalue their assets while the situation settles. Practically, this means any withdrawals or new investments will not be able to come out of/into these funds for the time being.
We have had lots of great questions over the last few days. Here are just a few: Is now the right time to invest? Should I pay into my pension as I had planned? I need to pay for a new car, should I take some money out of my investment? Is the cash in my bank account safe? I was planning to retire in a few months, should I change my plans? Can I claim on insurance if I get the coronavirus? Should I sell everything now to limit any further damage?
We will be posting some videos over the next few days with the answers to these questions and more. If you have anything that you want to ask, just send a note to your usual contact or email email@example.com
Most people are planning for the long-term. Even if your investments are providing you with income now, your capital will need to last your lifetime. What we have right now is a situation leading to short-term economic reactions, but we must always keep that long-term plan in mind.
Our focus is on helping people achieve their life goals, and the most important thing we can do, as financial planners, is to provide reassurance at times like these. We understand that it can be difficult to manage the fear of the unknown when combined potentially with less income, enforced isolation and losing some of your favourite activities for a short time.
We are always here for you.
Your health, physical and mental, is priceless. Taking care of yourself and others around you is essential, never more so than now.
If you do have concerns or worries, then we can’t emphasise enough the importance of talking about them. A problem shared truly is a problem halved. We appreciate that sometimes it can be hard to talk to people you know, so please remember the brilliant service offered by the Samaritans. Call 116 123 any time, day or night, or if you’d prefer to put your thoughts down in writing email firstname.lastname@example.org
It remains business as usual at Balance: Wealth Planning. However, we have made some adaptations to ensure an uninterrupted service, whilst following the government guidelines. These measures will protect our team and our connections:
- Our office is closed for the time being while we all work from home. We are collecting post once a week, so if you have sent something to us, please let us know so we can be sure to pick it up in good time.
- We have made the decision to hold all meetings over the telephone or via video conferencing for the time being. If you’ve not done that before, don’t worry, we’ll talk you through it. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!
- Our team are all working hard still, but just from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
- Many of our team will also be working different hours to fit around their other responsibilities, for the time being, particularly those responsible for childcare. This might mean you’ll receive emails from us in the evening or weekend, not necessarily during the normal working day.
Also, we have checked the contingency plans of our main providers to ensure they are prepared.
My final thoughts – As you hopefully appreciate already, our planning is not just about the figures; it’s about understanding the bigger picture. Two of our core business values are to provide stability and act considerately and never has there been a better time to support each other.
‘The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy’ – Martin Luther King
All the best,