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Brexit - What comes next?

7 Jul 2016

2 minute read

Ed Gibson admits that the only way forward is knowing what you don't know.

Two weeks on from the Referendum result in favour of leaving the EU, here are some of the major things we know have happened;

  • David Cameron has resigned;
  • Nigel Farage has resigned;
  • Jeremy Corbyn is likely to be ousted as leader of the Labour Party;
  • Boris Johnson has pulled out of the race for the Tory leadership;
  • the UK stock market has plummeted and recovered, slightly;
  • Sterling has plummeted, recovered and plummeted again;
  • the UK’s major property funds have suspended withdrawals.

As to what happens next, we have to have the courage to admit we don’t know.

In periods of extreme uncertainty like this, the obvious question to ask is “what should I do?” As a financial advisor I refer to these basic principles:

  • control what you can control rather than trying to control what you can’t;
  • diversification is the best way to mitigate uncertainty;
  • stick with your plan unless you really want to gamble that you know what comes next.

So if you have cash you are thinking of investing, you may decide to wait until things are more certain. Or you may decide to phase your investment over a longer time period, or to invest in a portfolio with fewer shares. However, if you are already invested, selling your investment may be exactly the wrong thing to do. The problem is, you won’t know until afterwards.

If you are thinking of investing in a property fund, you might double check when you could need the money before investing. However, if you’re already invested in a property fund, the restrictions on selling are there for your benefit. Property is an illiquid asset and assets cannot be sold overnight. So if too many people try withdraw money too quickly, the fund has to control that outflow for the benefit of all investors. This does not mean that the property fund has a problem, nor does it mean that the properties are suddenly worth less than they were the week before. It simply means that you cannot sell an office block at a moment’s notice.

So what you should do in the coming weeks, months and years will depend on how the economy responds and on where you stand. If you need to act immediately then do so, bearing in mind that you nor anyone else right now can predict the consequences. And if you don’t need to act, sit it out, keep a close eye on the macro environment and take action when you’re more certain of the outcome.

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Ed Gibson

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