You don’t say

In a world this crazy, this is pretty crazy. The value of the investment portfolios are broadly the same now as they were in March 2019. How can this be you ask? That’s a heck of a good question. We think an amalgam of contributing factors are playing a part, so this blog will attempt […]

News from the frontline -15th May 2020

It is now over seven weeks since we went into lockdown. How times have changed; we have completed over 60 fund manager interviews already this year, and each week we speak to at least ten different investment teams. Even as recently as February, to speak or listen to a fund manager would normally mean attending […]

Views from the frontline – 7 May 2020

Listening to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting recently with over three hours of questions and answers by Warren Buffett, I was impressed with the ease with which he used the words “I don’t know”. It seemed quite liberating to know that it is okay to admit we do not know what the markets will do […]

Views from the frontline – 1 May 2020

In a week where the FTSE100 tipped back over 6,000 (briefly!) we have split the update into five themes – psychology and society, health, global economics, the role of technology, and environmental issues. This reflects the nature of the different discussions we are having, and all provide different and interesting insights. Psychology and Society Validea’s […]

Views from the frontline

It is worth remembering, that at the start of the year the thought of any recession was perhaps 2 or 3 years away. Although global growth was expected to slow, 2020 was likely to be a good year for investors. Whatever anyone’s views on the word we no longer mention, a stable government in the […]

How Screwed Up?

Howard Marks, a brilliant man, and hugely successful investor appeared on CNBC recently and was asked what he thought of the overall US market valuation. He answered that it was down 15%, but did that really represent how ‘screwed up’ the US economy is? The implication I think being no, it did not. Also, and […]

Weekly update

As lockdown gets extended, we continue to talk to investment professionals with the aim of sharing thoughts from the front line. We are writing up the fund manager meeting notes and hope to have those on the website by the end of month. Franklin (CIO Insight Series) Is this the same as the Great Depression? […]

Looking forward

As we go into the Easter Weekend, we suspect this is very different to what many were expecting. We continue to engage with fund managers and investment specialists and below are key messages from these discussions. Some interesting thoughts from GAM and Miton express this as a shock to the global economy and very different […]

Seeing some light

This week we have spoken to over 10 fund managers and investment specialists. We are starting to see light, and some underlying themes emerge, which focus on the fact that when this passes, we will potentially have a different world. Schroders (Economic Team) High level thoughts: This is very different to any other recession; economic […]

Markets massively rebound

From the carnage of the previous two weeks, this week has seen the US market (as one example) rise by 17% (early Friday). The last blog was titled ‘Darkest Before The Dawn’ and was written right at the point of maximum market capitulation and price declines. We felt the selling was panic driven and hugely […]

Keeping communications open

Thoughts from the frontline Invesco (Economic Team) They believe the three things to watch from countries are: Healthcare response, and how quickly it can be contained Monetary response Fiscal response China is the model to follow, and if you can get this right you have the potential to avoid a prolonged slowdown. Invesco do not […]

And what then?

In volatile times, those offering opinions or projections have learned well that forecasting the worst of outcomes is a smart move. You hear most therefore, expounding pessimism. The 3 levels Working through the ramifications and implications of a set of circumstances is well achieved by following a process known as 3 Level Thinking: the highest […]

Andrex is the new gold

This morning we have seen the markets react negatively to the drop in oil prices; last week, fear was driven by central bank action and this all started with concerns over the impact from coronavirus. At times like this, advisers tend to run to ground; looking back over the last 10 years, our blogs tend […]

It feels scary – but we can feel positive

We are writing this early Monday, with markets down substantially. We take the view that these are the times when clients need to hear from us with hopefully good information and considered analysis of the causes and effects of the events taking place. We have no expectation of being right, but it will be less […]

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Over the last few weeks we have considered our process. This last blog falls under the title ‘repeat, repeat, repeat’. I was discussing our process recently and mentioned that the day we stop innovating and challenging is the day that we stop as complacency will have taken over, and this has the potential to destroy all the work we have done. In July and August, I often breathe a sigh of relief. All the clients have agreed to the new portfolios and have been rebalanced into them. For two months I can effectively rest. In September I gear up to start the process again; hence ‘repeat, repeat, repeat’.

Passive vs Active

“The index fund is a most unlikely hero for the typical investor. It is no more (nor less) than a broadly diversified portfolio, typically run at rock-bottom costs, without the putative benefit of a brilliant, resourceful, and highly skilled portfolio manager. The index fund simply buys and holds the securities in a particular index, in proportion to their weight in the index. The concept is simplicity writ large.” ― John C. Bogle


The human suffering from COVID-19 has been in the news for over a month but until the last week the financial markets had not been materially affected. However, over the past two days markets have fallen substantially, with news of the spread of infections to Europe, especially Italy. It is not possible to know how serious and long lasting this will be. Often in the past, fears in the markets (including medical) have caused significant and rapid falls in prices but have been short term in duration.

The boffin in the room

I am often found locked away in a room, spending most of my life looking at spreadsheets, and talking to fund managers. About 70% of my time is spent working on the investment strategies. In the last blog we explored why we do what we do. We concluded that it is vital to retain this part of the process, that this is what we are paid for and we should devote our time and energy to it.

Let’s talk about investments

“The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Phillip Fisher When we started the business, we focused on investments; as we have developed, we placed greater emphasis on financial planning. We have produced a series of blogs expanding on the importance of goals and plans […]

Quarterly Market Overview – January 2020

“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect” – Oscar Wilde I thought it might be fun to start by pulling out some of my thoughts from January 2019: Eurozone Crisis 2 – another Greek style crisis; there are no immediate signs of this happening Military action – we saw drone strikes by Iran […]

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