“It’s an unforeseen problem,”…
“It came out of nowhere”.
These were the words President Trump used to describe the new coronavirus. The market crash that accompanied the crisis was a similar surprise.
It has been described as the Black Swan of 2020, a Black Swan is the term used to describe an event that comes as a complete surprise and has potentially severe consequences. It comes from the observation that European explorers, when in Australia, saw black swans for the first time. They had only ever seen white swans.
In his book, “Black Swan” published in 2007 Nassim Nicholas Taleb popularised the term, just before all hell broke loose on the financial markets. Black Swans can only be seen with hindsight, and therefore they are often used as a convenient excuse. “We didn’t see that coming” is often said by politicians or fund managers when admitting their failure to spot any warning signs.
“Expect the unexpected.” “Be prepared” “contingency planning.” These are all phrases that we are familiar with. We all take out insurance for events that we hope will never happen.
So I don’t buy the Black Swan argument. If we are looking for a metaphor, I love the idea of the grey rhino. Michelle Wucker writes in her book, “The Gray Rhino”, that a grey rhino is a highly probable, high impact, yet neglected event. Grey rhinos are not random surprises, but occur after a series of warning signs and visible evidence.
I love rhinos. They are my favourite animal. The reasons for that are probably worthy of another article. I have a picture of a rhino on the wall of my office, amongst other items that remind me of this incredible creature.
Before a rhino charges it stomps around a bit, snorting and getting angrier. It is giving you plenty of opportunity to act, take action and get out of the way. Believe me, you want to get out of the way. Once this two-tonne beauty gets going, it is very difficult to stop and the damage could be irreparable.
So why am I talking about this? What has this got to do with you or your finances?
Throughout our lives, we are constantly faced with grey rhinos. There will be another global pandemic in the future. How can you prepare yourself for it? Could this be by ensuring you have enough savings to fall back on to get you through the difficult times? Is your investment portfolio aligned with your goals and your appetite for risk? Can you still do all the things that you want to in life if markets tumble? What have you done to ensure that your family will be protected in the event of death or illness?
This list is not exhaustive but just some of the questions that a financial planner can help you answer.
So my advice is to pay attention to the grey Rhino. Look to head off the things that we can see in front of us. The alternative is to spend our time, looking back for black swans.
If I was to come face to face with a rhino. I’d want a plan.
If you want to get ready and build that plan, please get in touch.
So, both my wife and sons asked me today how long we had been in lockdown? I was surprised I could not remember. A good friend of mine said it was probably because I was comfortable working from home and the simplicity of our new life was creating a relaxed environment. Having a 12-week-old puppy around has helped. No time to reflect or get bored!
I am sure you are all adapting in your own way and have developed new routines. Virtual Pilates and Yoga sessions 3 times a week has been my favourite so far. I watched Grayson Perry last night on how he is encouraging people to use art to help fill their lockdown days. It was interesting to hear what he missed most of all was being able to dress up as a woman and show off. Each to their own.
As you know from our regular weekly communications, our team have adapted to their new working practices and of course, like you, they are looking forward to returning to normality sometime in the future. None of us yet know what this is going to look like! In the meantime, we continue to devote our energies to look after your financial plans and wealth.
This week has been a relatively quiet week in the financial markets. Given the extreme levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus, we believe there is a high chance of a strong economic and stock market recovery to follow. However, we continue to believe the best case over coming weeks is a period of consolidation, while the worst case is a fall back towards the low we reached in mid-March. Much depends on market reaction as we move into the heart of the earnings reporting season and receive more economic data that reflects the significance of the shutdown.
Brunel Capital Partners
I’ve always believed that a picture paints a thousand words.
When I think of this adage I am always reminded of a family holiday to Spain when the kids were much younger. It was just another little lie that I’ve offered up to them when I said “Come on…this will be great!” as I ushered them into the Prado Museum in Madrid. On reflection I must have told them a very good many white lies over the years, except of course when they ask “who I love most?” and I answer “sorry boys, it’s your sister”. But back to the story. I’m not that steeped in culture, more of a Messi and Guscott man than your Picasso and … um…um (well you see my point) but I thought it would be good for all our souls to browse the collections on display. It was also, I remember, very hot outside and another good reason to go inside was that I expected it to have good air conditioning.
Now, among other masters on display that day, Picasso was in the house and I needn’t have looked through all the notes and sketches that preceded his “Guernica” to be stopped in my tracks when I saw the main event, and to absolutely, instantly get what he wanted to say in that extraordinary painting. A book filled to the brim could not convey the same tragedy, power and emotion of “Guernica” and that moment has stayed with me to this day. Any time I think of it I can see it in my mind’s eye. Unfortunately, we remain the Luddites that we are, but I do not regret that museum trip in the slightest.
Now the Vanguard analyst behind the chart detailed below is no Picasso, although I’m sure that they would be very pleased to hear they are being mentioned in the same sentence as the great man. When I experience significant problems I always try and see the bigger picture, the context, and the Vanguard chart allows this when we consider the current turmoil in the markets. At a glance we can see that over time there are far more Bull markets than Bear markets, that there is more upside than downside, and in financial terms more good than bad.
As always, let us know if there is anything more that we can do for you and please do not hesitate to contact us to share any comments or concerns that you may have.
With all good wishes,
Brunel Capital Partners
Good afternoon everyone,
I hope that you and your families are keeping safe and well through these troubling times. If the virus has affected you or your loved ones in any way, our thoughts are with you.
As we enter week four of lockdown, the novelty has certainly worn off. The lack of structure and school work during the Easter holidays has certainly challenged the three boys in the Rylett household. Boys don’t do arts and crafts so have had to find other ways to amuse themselves!
There does seem to be a glimmer of hope and a sense that we are reaching the peak and the so called curve seems to be flattening. There is also some talk of some success in some of the therapeutic drug trials.
Whilst a further three week period of lockdown has been announced it is pleasing to see news of how other European countries may handle an exit to the lockdown. Whilst it will be some time before a return to normality, some easing will be good for everyone’s sanity and the economy.
For those of you that have been to our office in Bristol, you may have seen this canvas on our meeting room wall.
The simple message that this picture carries has resonated with me perhaps more so than normal during this crisis. We can’t affect what is happening to us but we can certainly change the way we react to it.
As a business, Brunel is absolutely intent on coming out of this crisis in a better place as we use this time to work on the things that we can control.
The Brunel team have continued to work hard behind the scenes to ensure that our service to you, our clients can continue in the way you have come to expect. We thank you for adapting so quickly to a new way of working where we have asked you to.
The team are also working tirelessly to ensure that our new secure client portal is rolled out to all of our clients. Our plan to launch our new investment platform, the IronBright Investment Platform is gaining momentum as we head towards our June target date, initially for Bristol based clients and then Wells clients, later in the year. Your adviser will be in touch to discuss this in more detail.
We can’t control or predict the markets or the impact this crisis will have on the economy over the long-term. What we can do is ensure that you have a robust financial and investment plan in place that can weather the storm and keep you on track.
It was the boxer Mike Tyson who once famously said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. Well, this coronavirus crisis is that proverbial “punch in the face”. If you need to check whether you are still on track or whether any adjustments to your plan need to be made, please contact your normal adviser.
If anybody has any feedback or would like to get in touch, please email me on email@example.com or contact your adviser.
I hope everyone stays safe and well.
Brunel Capital Partners
I hope you and your family are as well as possible through these extraordinary times.
Who would have thought earlier this year that we would be in a state of lockdown and Boris Johnson would be hospitalised for his COVID-19 symptoms?
I have lived and worked through many difficult situations over the past 40 years, but this time it is very different. Not being able to meet with clients on a face-face basis throws up all sorts of challenges. However, we continue to provide our full service to clients, albeit we are all working from our homes with the exception of one member of the Brunel team working at the office each day to coordinate correspondence.
There are challenges working from home and I am told that I should take regular breaks. With this in mind, my wife and I get together over a coffee to take part in Radio 2’s Pop Master Quiz at 10.30 each weekday morning. I hadn’t realised how competitive we would get over a radio quiz. Needless to say, Julie wins every time!
All members of the Brunel team are well and as always very happy to hear from you. We all have a need for human interaction, so a phone call or Zoom conversation can always be arranged. Please do not hesitate to call Dan, Damien, David, Steve or me if you would value a discussion or if you would like to set up a Zoom conversation.
As I write, investment markets have been gaining ground over the past few days as the spread of the virus slows. This is a relief as it is always depressing to see the values of investments declining as has been the case in recent weeks.
Government ministers are now under pressure to spell out a long-term exit strategy from the lockdown. This will be a real challenge and the peak pressure point on the NHS will need to behind us. So, it appears that we are likely to be in lockdown at least a few more weeks. In the meantime, we will be here to help you with your family finances.
I wish you and your family a very Happy Easter.
Brunel Capital Partners Ltd
As we enter another week of the Covid 19 ‘lockdown’ I continue to be amazed by the commitment and hard work of our National Health Service; whilst these front line workers devote their energies to saving lives and preventing suffering, I would like to reassure you that we continue to devote all of our energies to the challenges of looking after your wealth.
Working from home has given me some time to reflect on the progress Brunel has made since it was established in 2012. As the Finance Director of our new business, I had a clear picture in my mind how we needed to build a business, one that could offer a personal service to all our clients, but also one that could weather a similar event to the banking crisis in 2008.
Having steered a ‘cautious’ path over the past 8 years we now have a well-capitalised business with no borrowings. This has resulted in us being able to use our reserves to retain our valuable team members and concentrate 100% on delivering the quality service that you have come to expect from us. You will be pleased to hear that the team are currently fit, well and organised to run both the Wells and the Bristol offices remotely, if need be, indefinitely.
As you would no doubt have realised from our recent communications, we are in the process of delivering a new secure Client Portal, which should ensure that all future communication is delivered with very high levels of security. Many thanks to all who have registered so far.
Whilst we continue to register all clients onto the new Portal, the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that we brought the May re-balance of your portfolios forward to 30th March. We did this because it has been the intention to move away from ETFs (exchange traded funds) in your portfolios for a combination of reasons that include the impact of Brexit, to access UK based funds with lower fees and provide more streamlined personal accounting for clients. Completing this exercise means that IronBright could make the investment changes it needed to and save many clients a significant amount of tax in the process.
I hope that you and your family stay safe and well and please be assured that you can rely on us to continue to be here for you.
Brunel Capital Partners
Good afternoon, So we’re all in lockdown now.
Whilst the news still hung in the air Madigan (our daughter, still smarting from having had her A levels cancelled and having worked very hard for them) looked at Hamish (our second son, home from Uni and trying to complete his Finals online) suggested that it might be safer if Covid-19 got to him before she did as “this house just isn’t big enough for the both of us”! Perhaps a natural response when coming to terms with the news that you have to be holed up with an older brother for an indeterminate length of time. I suggested that some patience, perspective and goodwill would see us through and might, perhaps, strengthen such a tenuous sibling bond. You can imagine the looks.
Whilst we are reminded in such circumstances that family bonds, personal relationships and our own good health form the central tenets of ‘what makes us happy’, we at Brunel will remain focused on maintaining safe custody of your wealth and making the right decisions on your behalf. The entire team, bar one brave soul who continues to man the office, are all now working effectively and safely from home. We are immensely proud of how everyone has pulled together and risen to such a challenge, to ensure that all the normal services that we offer you continue to be available.
We remain open for business and receptive to any calls, comments or suggestions that you may have so please contact your adviser in the first instance or email me directly. There will be regular contact from us to keep you informed of all relevant matters.
Patience and perspective will see us through to the end, and it’s important to accept that this will not be forever. Our normal way of life will return and markets will recover, because they always do.
In the meantime batten down the hatches and see you on the other side.
With all good wishes,
Brunel Capital Partners
This year, a few members of the Bristol team took time away from the office to help at the Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) Christmas party at the Charlton Farm Hospice, on the outskirts of Bristol. It was a lovely event with lots of different activities which the children enjoyed immensely.
Instead of sending our clients Christmas cards this year, we made a donation to CHSW to help them continue their great work providing care and assistance to the families of children with life limiting conditions.
In additional to financial support, we bought a selection of small gifts which were handed to the children by Father Christmas at the Christmas party. It is great to see first-hand what the difference that these donations make.
Volunteers at the CHSW party included (from left to right) India, Vicky, Stuart and Sara.
Through the Wells Dementia Action Alliance (WDAA), donations were made to local Charities “Heads Up” and the “Lawrence Centre” towards their Christmas Parties which brought much cheer to their clients living with dementia.
Plans are also underway to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the WDAA during Dementia Action Week between 11th and 17th May 2020, when there will be activities for all throughout the week to help raise awareness and fund raise as there is so much more that we can do to help those living with dementia in our community.
Guests and clients and the Mayor of Wells share a seasonal cheer at Heads Up’s Christmas party.
Photo courtesy of Philip Welch.
The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus once said that “change is the only constant”. He could have well been looking at the Financial Services profession today!
The Directors at Brunel and Pilgrim are continually looking at ways to ensure that we maintain the high level of service to clients by embracing change when it comes along and where we see that it will benefit our clients.
We have several projects that we will be completing this year, notably launching our own investment platform and our own Client Portal, which we’re really excited about!
To make sure these projects are a success, we have reshaped our team and it is with pleasure that I can introduce our new Managing Director, Andy Weston.
Andy has been our Head of Compliance for many years and he is the perfect man for the job.
We also see promotions for Kate Harris and Sara Mather to Group Operations Manager and Technical Team Manager respectively. Damien Rylett remains our CEO.
To fill the gaps left by these promotions, we have taken on more staff.
We are also pleased to therefore welcome Bryony Slade to our Compliance and Operations team, who will be working between both the Bristol and Wells offices.
In addition, we have augmented our Client Services team with Tom Doughty and Louise Brown who each bring valuable experience to their new roles. Jamie Havard joins us from the Office of National Statistics as a member of our Paraplanning team in Bristol.
The Wells office has been strengthened by Rachel Goymer and Katy Cox who have settled into their administration roles, and Lucy Harris has recently joined Harriet Carss in our Paraplanning team.
You will be pleased to hear that we will also be launching a new website where you will be able to put faces to names.
Whilst the team is growing, it remains our plan to stay nimble and focused entirely on our clients.
Technology can bring many benefits to our lives, but we will always be a company where you can be assured that a human being will be at the end of the phone and happy to talk with you.
Do you remember the Mastercard ‘priceless’ campaign of the late 1990s?
These iconic adverts reminded the viewer, usually in a funny or thought-provoking way, that there are some things that money can’t buy.
These Priceless adverts came to mind when I reflected recently on the value of financial planning.
You see, a lot of what we do for our clients has a tangible value attached. But many other elements of our service can only be described as ‘priceless’.
Recent studies by the have found that those who used financial advice were better off than similar individuals who did not take advice.
A study originating in the United States concluded that the services provided by an excellent financial adviser have the potential to add around 3% each year to your investment returns. So we know that working with a financial adviser can make you wealthier.
The ‘Adviser Alpha’ study from investment provider Vanguard quantified the potential value added to an investor from services including rebalancing investment portfolios to manage risk, selecting low-cost investments and behavioural coaching.
When compared to the cost of ongoing advice, this added return through the provision of financial advice is excellent value.
But what takes financial advice from something valuable to something priceless? In my mind, it’s the less tangible benefits of what we do that make our services invaluable.
For example, we ensure things get done.
All too often, it’s easy to set financial goals (especially at this time of the year, when Resolutions abound), but fail to follow through and execute these goals as planned. By working with a financial adviser, we help life work by holding you to account and making sure these ambitions are realised.
There are some unquantifiable aspects of our role, which are undoubtedly priceless. We help our clients avoid the biases which arise a result of merely being human. These are biases which can derail even the most experienced and sensible investors.
One of the most important benefits our clients tell us we provide is delivering peace of mind. The ability to sleep well at night, safe in the knowledge that you have a plan for the future, is priceless.
Peace of mind ties in closely with the reassurance that you are making the right decisions, for you and your family.
One of the results of a financial plan includes being able to spend your time doing the things you enjoy, safe in the knowledge you won’t run out of money in the future, and your investments are in an appropriate place.
When the clients we work with can confidently provide financial assistance to adult children or other family members, they tell us this is priceless too.
If we believe everything we read in the press, working with a financial adviser is all about picking the best investment funds and being sold products to fill gaps. I hope this article shows you that, in addition to the tangible benefits of working with a financial adviser, it’s something that results in a priceless outcome too.