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Summertown, and the livin is easy (maybe) - news article image

Summertown, and the livin is easy (maybe)

12 Jun 2020

3 minute read

I’m pleased to let you know that from Monday we will be reopening the Summertown offices, albeit in a limited way to start with. From Monday we will have the team split into two groups, with one group in the office Monday, Wednesday and Friday the first week, then Tuesday and Thursday the second week, alternating with the second group.

At this stage we will not be open to clients however, it marks the start we hope of a return to normality. Working remotely has been OK and we appreciate your willingness to meet using Teams, Zoom and the phone. We also appreciate that although we have learned that it is feasible to offer more ways to communicate with you, there is also for many no substitute for the ability to sit down together to spend time talking about what interests or concerns you. So we hope it won’t be too long before we can offer that face-to-face contact again.

As things begin to return to normal, we are sounding a note of caution when it comes to investments and portfolio values. To begin with, normal will be anything but normal. We’ve had an unprecedented level of financial support from Government for both companies and individuals and that support is going to be withdrawn, gradually we hope, but it will be withdrawn. Until that has happened, we don’t actually know what the world is going to look like. In the UK we don’t know how many furloughed staff will be redundant, nor do we know which companies will recover and which will find they can no longer stand on their own two feet.

As ever, we take the various predictions of what might happen to global economies as what they are, an attempt to predict the future. Many have a bias in order to support a particular narrative, but even those that don’t are trying to see into a murky future with nothing in the past that compares to what we are experiencing now. However, we recognise that there are real risks that cannot be ignored and the warm feeling of returning to something closer to our normal lives may not mean that these risks are going away in the short term.

Comparing our various structured portfolios between the beginning of March and now, almost all have recovered falls that they suffered in March. Interestingly it is the ones which had the lowest equity content and therefore saw much lower short term falls which may not quite have made back those temporary losses. “Folding the paper”, seeing the two ends of the graph pretty much at the same spot, one could easily ignore the last couple of months and pretend it never happened. If we’d tried to predict that in mid-March I think we would have received some very strange looks.

For us what this says is that we are right to focus on trying to fit portfolios to each client in a way that hopefully any falls are within the bounds where you can say “well I knew it would fall as well as rise, but that’s OK”. Without the ability to know what might happen tomorrow, the ability to avoid selling in panic when investments drop and then find oneself reinvesting after things have recovered is one of the most important aspects of investing. All part and parcel of having a plan rather than simply investing some money.

Summertown, and the livin is easy (maybe) - news article image


Ed Gibson

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