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Lockdown 2: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Water (Eaton Park & Ride) - news article image

Lockdown 2: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Water (Eaton Park & Ride)

27 Nov 2020

5 minute read

Grease 2; Blues Brothers 2000; Basic Instinct 2; it’s always difficult to get the sequel right. Not every sequel can be Godfather II; just look at Godfather III to see that one. In so many ways Lockdown 2.0 is proving very different from the original and I’m sure it’s not just me, but there’s something very different about closing the office and having to work from home when outside it's grey, dull, dismal, wet and chilly.

I suspect it isn’t just the weather that’s led to a slew of comments from people that they’re finding the latest restrictions more onerous than last time despite the fact that this time schools have remained open, a lot of shops seem to be deemed essential and supermarkets aren’t seeing the stockpiling driven shortages that they saw earlier in the year. What we’re seeing now may well be driven by a combination of expectations having not been met and an increase in uncertainty as a result.

However much we all tried to pretend that we had got to grips with how a pandemic can play out, when we came out of the first lockdown the expectation was that, although it wasn’t over by a long way, we had done our bit, put up with the pain, driven R down and could expect to not have to go through that again.

Some of this came from the actions of the Government, reopening schools and Universities, promoting eat out to help out, planning on reintroducing crowds to sporting events, all of which served to make life feel “normal” again. Talk moved on to recovery, to stimulus, to how the Government would need to adapt following the end of the pandemic and to local restrictions if necessary.

Some of it came from the fact that there were different views on the virus, how to combat it, how dangerous it was and how quickly it might disappear, which meant that it was easy to listen to the positive voices and dismiss the negative. One very prominent medical personality famously informed his supporters in March that things would be edging back to normality in May before going on to predict that Britain would be virtually back to normal by August.

In financial planning, one of the biggest factors to deal with and deal with early is the setting of expectations. There are a multitude of views on how to plan, on how to invest, on what assumptions to make, on what good looks like and there’s always that person you know who seems to have found a solution – the one who gets 6% a year from something that’s dead safe or who did all that trust stuff themselves. So it is vital that clear expectations are set at the start and that they are reviewed and revisited.

For example, the only “known” is that at some point you will look at your portfolio value and it will be less than it was the last time that you looked at it. By how much, that’s unknown but the likelihood of how much can be affected by the mix of investments chosen. Something with 90% in shares, when it drops, is likely to drop by more than something which is only 10% invested in shares.

When it will happen is another unknown but it might be during the first period following investment. There is no guarantee that when you invest money it will go up before it goes down. If your expectation is that your financial planner will know if it is a good time to invest or a bad time to invest, then that’s a great example of an expectation which has not been set correctly.

If you’d asked us last October we might have raised concerns over general uncertainties heading towards the end of the transition period and US election this year; we might have questioned why you felt you needed to invest the money; we might have questioned if you would still have sufficient cash to feel totally comfortable that you could cover any unknown expenditure and not worry about any falls in value; we certainly would have reiterated that investment values can fall before they rise; what we wouldn’t have discussed is that you’d be better waiting until March when markets had plummeted due to Covid.

Uncertainty will always be there in financial planning because you are trying to create a plan to deal with the future and nobody really knows what that looks like. However by having clear expectations the uncertainty can be managed much better. What does success look like? What do you expect your planner to be able to influence? When do you expect to hear from us? How do you expect to work with us? What would cause you concern that needs to be managed, avoided if possible and communicated on if not avoidable? What sort of falls in value might you see in normal times and what if there’s a financial crisis or pandemic?

Most importantly, what can you expect to be unable to predict and unable to influence? This is not just about expectation but also acceptance and if you can truly accept that there are these things which cannot be predicted, avoided or influenced, then the experience will be so much better.

Having said all this we now look forward to Christmas, in whatever guise it may come, whether bigger bubbles or temporary easing of restrictions. Soon the radio will be full of Christmas songs, from the traditional “Don’t come all ye faithful” and “God test ye merry gentlemen”, to the pop favourites such as Mud’s “It’ll be Covid this Christmas” and Mariah’s “All I want for Christmas is 2 (metres)”

Lockdown 2: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Water (Eaton Park & Ride) - news article image


Ed Gibson

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