I think we can all agree that last year was unprecedented in terms of the economy and our general wellbeing. I've been a financial adviser for 41 years now and, in all my time, I’ve never seen the stock market fall as sharply as it did in the last 12 months!
More than anything, the strange economic situation caused by the events of 2020 saw the need for more and more people to seek financial advice. This need wasn’t only in terms of people managing their investments or pensions, but people also needed help transitioning into retirement earlier than expected.
After being made redundant or furloughed, many felt that 2020 was the right time to retire early and needed professional advice to help secure their financial futures.
All of this meant that at Applewood Independent Ltd, we were the busiest we've ever been! Working remotely, we helped many of our clients to manage their money through these unprecedented times.
Extra cash for investing
Additionally, we had many new clients investing with us due to the amount of cash they had saved during 2020. One report suggested the UK public has managed to save £100 billion last year! For many, the extra money saved meant they could invest it in the new opportunities that came out of 2020.
For example, last year, the UK market was one of the world’s poorest performing stock markets, which presented investors with a unique opportunity. All of the other major markets like Germany, Japan and America have seemed to recover their losses, but the UK still has more to recover. Knowing this, and knowing that the market has always recovered before, means there is potentially a great opportunity to be had by investing in UK stocks.
So, many of our clients decided that they wanted to invest a lot of the money they saved in new opportunities like this that represent good value.
Although it has been a hard year for the economy, it has still been possible to turn a healthy profit from investing. If you have been following our previous blogs, you would know that our more aggressive, riskier clients in 2020 still had a positive return. They turned a profit by looking to overseas markets which all have made good returns in 2020. By recognising this, we have invested our more aggressive client’s funds into these higher-performing markets and turned them a profit last year despite the UK’s poor performance.
Even a lot of our less risky clients still managed to do well or at least limit their losses.
Investing money overseas like this requires expert knowledge of all the markets and shows the value of independent financial advice, especially in an economic downturn like last year.
Not all doom and gloom
Fortunately for us, it's been a busy year, but it's been very traumatic for many others. My heart goes out to all the people who've lost their jobs, relatives and loved ones to the pandemic and my thanks also go out to all of the services that have stepped up and done brilliantly this year too, they have all done an exceptional job!
I think it’s amazing how well we have all pulled together as a community to help each other. Whether it’s helping the vulnerable with shopping, or just giving each other a call to check in, we have all stepped up to the challenges 2020 presented and dealt with them superbly.
Despite the bad, there are many positives to come out of 2020, and hopefully, we can take these with us into 2021.
Looking forward, there are many positives for the UK market in particular. For example, many of the uncertainties holding it back are on course to being resolved (American election, Brexit and the COVID-19 vaccine).
The COVID-19 vaccine is undoubtedly the most significant of all these factors. In approval of the Pfizer and more recently the AstraZeneca vaccine means there is some very positive news on the horizon for the UK market that has been affected by COVID-19.
Once large parts of the population become vaccinated, we should start to get back to a more normal life, whatever the new normal may be. This restoration of normality means that we can get back to spending money and, as a result, the economy should pick up again.
But putting the economy to one side for a moment, we will also begin claiming back some of the things that make life worthwhile, like human contact.
If 2020 has made us realise anything, it’s how much we as humans need human contact.
Many of the conferences that I would have attended this year had to be online instead of face to face and, whilst it was useful, it certainly wasn't as fulfilling. I’ve missed the personal conversations with colleagues in pubs and restaurants, and I’ve missed discussing our industry’s movements without the need to use a screen. I think human contact is something we’ve all missed sorely, so fingers crossed we can get back to face-to-face interactions soon!
With the COVID-19 vaccine looking very promising, 2021 may well be a much better year for everyone in terms of the economy, and our general wellbeing.
A word of warning
However, not everyone is going to get vaccinated in 2021. We don’t have the supply to do that yet, but as long as our key workers and most vulnerable are safe, that’s the most important thing.
Also, as great as the vaccine will be for the economy, there will still be a price to pay in the end. It will likely cost the UK government a tremendous amount of money in additional government spending, which may take us decades to pay off fully. As a result, it’s probably going to be at least a couple of years before our economy returns to where it was in January when we enjoyed an all-time high from the stock market. Back then, the economy was in a great place, with unemployment rates at the lowest they have ever been!
But within only a few months, that all changed and now the UK market is one of the poorest economies of the G7.
We know we have a long way to go before we are economically strong again, but the economy is only one small part of 2021. I think that health, happiness and family are always more important than the financial situation, so let’s try to help each other remember that!
Throughout this exciting new year, we will be continuing to publish helpful articles on the world of finance, so stay posted and keep safe!
Here’s to a better 2021!
More to come next week.
I hope this has been useful and if you have anything else to add I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not constitute financial advice. Applewood Independent Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For financial advice designed for you and your specific circumstances, please contact the author using the contact details provided in this article, or alternatively contact the Applewood Independent Ltd office on 01270 626555.
The value of an investment can go down as well as up. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.
Accessing pension benefits is not suitable for everyone. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.