It has been widely reported that Tesla has invested $1.5bn in Bitcoin, which is trading at a record high at the time of writing. The investment is to create a liquid position in Bitcoin as Elon Musk hopes customers will be able to use the cryptocurrency to buy his Tesla cars. All well and good.
However, among all the excitement and interesting articles it dawned on me that there is something that bothers me about cryptocurrencies, but I am not sure why. It is a fascinating story and not for the faint hearted, despite what Mr Musk’s tweets imply. It is certainly not a store of value as “its price volatility at 80% is a dozen times higher than the Euro and sevenfold of the Russian rouble”. It remains a speculative asset and given its current fixed supply is at the mercy of sentiment, good and bad. It is also a dead asset, much like Gold, as it does not do anything, does not produce anything, not even a dividend.
The conclusion is that it is not so much I do not like cryptocurrencies as a commodity, it is that I like other methods of investing better. Investments that actually do something, something that is good and looks beyond short term individual gratification.
The end of the last decade brought with it one of the most difficult years for investors of all hues, but it marked a watershed moment for “Sustainable Investing”, which moved from the periphery to centre stage. The rate in change of investor sentiment has been rapidly supported by more and more high profile financial institutions who have begun to develop a meaningful footprint. There is now a diverse range of providers in the marketplace allowing investors a greater choice in terms of investment style and philosophy.
The performance story is strong for Sustainable funds now with a long term track record for many. Fund houses such as Edentree and Robeco have debunked the whole myth that investors are forced to give up returns to keep their values. Their funds give access to international companies well positioned to forge ahead in the future such as Renova, the Japanese renewable energy generator, which had a strong 2020 after the Japanese government committed to ambitious targets for green energy generation; Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, the European wind turbine manufacturing benefitting as the market revalued it in the light of Joe Biden’s victory in the US election …. the list is not endless, but you get the point.
Our IronBright Sustainable portfolios launched in 2020 have hit the ground running and are well placed to deliver on their impact and return objectives. Many of the underlying companies that investors have access to are looking forward to exciting futures: healthcare businesses responding to the need for better preventative solutions; technology companies creating a cleaner, more connected and safer world; companies with strong management teams that have looked after their workforce during 2020 who will emerge stronger and all the others addressing the urgent issues of climate change.
We may all still be locked up, bored rigid, waiting for the vaccine but we can still exert choice and influence about what are money does for us and the world around us. At your next review have a chat with your adviser about the investment options that you now have at your fingertips.
Stay safe and happy and like you we’re all looking forward to a Summer holiday!
This week, we are happy to introduce you to India Dagger. India is a Client Services Assistant and has been with the firm a little over two years. Here, she shares some of her experiences with the firm and how she spends her typical day.
No two days are the same
When I am asked ‘What do you do for work?’, I often say ‘I work as an administrator for a financial planning company’ because this is the easy answer – but the role of a Client Services Associate (CSA) is hugely varied. As a CSA, I support our paraplanners and financial planners in their client work. I am involved in almost every step of the client journey and am a key point of contact in assisting in maintaining the client relationship.
My favourite aspect of my role is speaking with clients and getting to know them, as well as having the responsibility of assisting with their finances. It is lovely to chat with clients about something other than their ISA or Pension! I also really enjoy the variety the role offers as no day is ever the same and I am often involved in new and exciting projects (such as the new IronBright platform transition and our marketing initiatives).
Before I joined Brunel just over two years ago, I worked in the marketing team for a property developer in Bristol. However, both my parents have worked in financial services for their entire careers and having undertaken work experience with an asset manager in London and a wealth management firm in Bristol this sector has always interested me. I studied Business, Economics and English Literature at A-Level.
My CSA role has helped me to gain technical knowledge as I have exposure to so many different client situations and possible financial solutions. I have learnt so much about financial planning and client service in the relatively short period I have been with Brunel. We have a great team who have been brilliant in helping me to develop my learning and skills.
During the pandemic I have continued with my studies for the Regulated Financial Planning Diploma and have joined our new Trainee Financial Planner program as I aspire to progress through the company to the role of a Financial Planner.Outside of work I enjoy cooking (particularly Asian food) and all things equestrian. My sister and I have ridden for most of our lives and have horses – we love to compete with our local riding clubs. I also enjoy keeping fit, taking our dogs for a long pub walk and socialising with my friends and family. I am really missing the office culture at Brunel and hope we can welcome clients to our new office as soon as possible.
Client Services Associate
At Brunel we love our team. They are a big part of what we do and what we are about.
In addition to hearing from the Directors in these updates, on occasions, you will be hearing from one of the team, with the aim of introducing themselves and providing an insight in to their role and how it affects our clients. This week, I am delighted to introduce Jamie Havard.
My name is Jamie Havard; a 26-year-old who harks from across the Severn Bridge and works as a paraplanner at Brunel. Aside from matters of financial planning, I enjoy homely cooking, rowing up and down the Avon, and more recently, finding other ways of staving off lockdown-tedium.
I’ve been at the company since November 2019, when I left my role as a statistician at the Office for National Statistics for a career in financial planning. I join you today from behind the scenes to shine some light on the role as Paraplanner within Brunel.
The majority of conversations about my job as a Paraplanner tend to go like this:
“What is it that you do again?”
“I’m a Paraplanner!”
“Oh, that’s great.… but hang on, what is that again?”
From these exchanges, it seems Paraplanning is one of the more unknown roles of the financial planning world. I guess this is quite understandable really given we tend to lurk behind the scenes.
As clients of Brunel, you will have had many dealings with the Financial Planners – the advisory faces of the firm – and the Client Services Associates (CSAs) who contact you regarding implementing and administrating their advice. So where in all of this, do the Paraplanners fit in?
Within Brunel, we work collaboratively with the Financial Planners using our technical knowledge to provide the best outcome for our clients. For example, when a planner advises on the retirement provision of a client, I will start with information gathering to form a picture of our client’s current situation. From there we look at how we can help them achieve their desired lifestyle simulating various scenarios. This all culminates in our recommendation report, so having an eye for numbers as well as words is needed.
A large part of our role involves supporting the Financial Planner by enabling them to spend more time with their clients. Having us paraplanners working solely on acquiring technical knowledge, financial compliance and writing up formal recommendations, enables the Planners to do this.
More recently, I have been attending client meetings to get a better understanding of clients’ needs, and adding more context to the work I do for you.
Alongside my paraplanning role I am also part of “Team Vision” which shines a spotlight on of some of the important issues that affect us as individuals and as a company from sustainability to gender equality.
So, there we go; a brief explanation on what a paraplanner is within Brunel. Now, time for me to scuttle back behind the scenes…
Jamie Havard DipPFS
Near the beginning of this pandemic, I spoke of a determination within our team to emerge stronger and better both as individuals and as a collective.
This has been an extremely difficult time for many. Some of us have lost friends, relatives and know people that been taken seriously ill. If you’ve been affected in anyway, our thoughts are with you.
At times, it has been a real struggle to get motivated and “Groundhog Day“ has been mentioned in a number of interactions I have had. However, that steely determination I refer to above has been there in abundance and a number of positive things have happened across our whole business.
We have successfully launched the IronBright platform and this is a big milestone for us. Whilst it continues to develop, we are extremely pleased with the way it has gone and initial client feedback has been very positive. I would like to thank the clients who offered to be guinea pigs through the development stage.
Our sustainable portfolios have been built and are almost ready for clients. This is an exciting and important area for us and from the initial conversations with clients, it appears it is an area that resonates with you as well.
We have moved offices in Bristol. Whilst we are yet to fully utilise it, we are looking forward to welcoming our Bristol-based clients to Runway East.
The team have also used this time to improve and develop themselves. A number of exam successes across both of our offices is great to see and can only benefit our business and our clients as the team learn new skills and strive for higher levels of competence and professionalism. Well done to India, Simon, Veronica, Vicky, Jamie, Tom, Louise, Lucy and Sara who have all passed exams.
Believe it or not, we’ve also had our very own wedding as well. Harriet Carss, from the Wells team became Mrs Mayes in December when she married James, a housemaster at Wells Cathedral School. I’m sure you will all join me in congratulating them both.
And so, we are nearly done with January. And breathe.
They – whoever “they“ are – say it’s darkest just before dawn. This isn’t true – it’s coldest just before dawn; the lighting state is influenced primarily by lunar phase and urban light pollution – but it’s a useful way of saying that you shouldn’t be downhearted; that the problems you are having now will pass and soon. With this week’s news that deaths in the UK have surpassed 100,000, we could all do with that.
The evenings are becoming lighter, there are buds on the trees. Spring is coming and with that comes hope.
I have even booked a summer holiday. Wishful thinking maybe, but I have hope.
With very best wishes