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SPONSORED: Money Matters – Where next for stock markets?

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INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVICE ON MONEY MATTERS AROUND THE HIGHLANDS, ISLANDS & MORAY

Ross Smith, Advanced Investment & Retirement Planning Ltd

The global pandemic has impacted virtually everybody in some capacity. It is unlike anything we have experienced before, and the repercussions will be felt for some time to come.

What originated as a health crisis has now morphed into a financial crisis. We have seen central banks scrambling to put in place support packages consisting of trillions of dollars, yen, euros, sterling and every other currency imaginable.

For investors who hold existing pensions or investments or pay into regular savings plans, the likelihood is that you would have noticed a decline in the value of those investments as the virus took hold in March. The initial sell off was severe and caught most investors off guard.

The stimulus measures mentioned above effectively put global markets on life support and provided some comfort in the short term for investors.

The subsequent bounce back has been swift and has helped claw back some of the losses in record time.

The US and some European markets have fared better than the UK.

The FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) have been pushed to pre-crisis levels on huge speculative interest and also benefitting directly from the lockdown. Just think how many items you’ve ordered online or films you’ve streamed during the last few months.

In addition, we have also seen a surge in interest in pharmaceuticals and biotech as the race to find a vaccine has been pushed to the front of the queue. Whether these valuations remain sustainable, time will tell.

So why have markets been rising?

Global markets are made up of many different moving parts – shares, bonds, currencies, property, commodities etc. The movements of these asset classes are complex and varied but they all rely on some form of demand existing and also buyers being prepared to pay for these assets.

What we have seen in the last few weeks since the initial sell off is a return of demand to the market and an appetite in some areas for investors, institutions, central banks etc to purchase these assets.

This has provided support to prices and then a rally from the previous lows to where we are today.

Does it make sense?

Possibly not, but markets speculate on a range of future variables all the time, this is just an extreme example given the circumstances and the uncertainty we are feeling.

So where next for markets?

The honest answer is that it is very difficult to predict with any certainty given the events that are unfolding around us.

What we do know is that trading conditions are going to remain challenging for some time to come and individual sectors will experience headwinds like never before.

Hospitality, retail, airlines, events and tourism could potentially struggle in the immediate short term until confidence returns or a vaccine is found.

Job losses could also continue which will then place more pressure on already stretched and debt laden economies around the world.

That being said, I also believe that companies will evolve and adapt, and we will see strength in other sectors which will offset some of these perceived weaker short term sectors.

What can you do as an investor to navigate through this phase?

First of all, don’t panic. Think about why you are investing and what is the end goal.

Investing in a broad range of assets for the medium to long term should be the main objective for most investors.

Try and block out the short-term noise and focus on the future.

Some investors will see this as an opportunity as they are managing to purchase assets at a discount, others will be more cautious and want to protect what they already have.

Understanding your timescales and the investment risk you are prepared to take coupled with regular reviews with your Independent Financial Adviser should help to provide you with a roadmap though these turbulent times.

These are my own opinions on the current situation, and it may be that your own adviser has a different view on the best way forward. Please reach out to any of the advisers within this forum if you have any questions or if you would like to review your investment or pension objectives.

Advanced Investment & Retirement Planning Ltd is an appointed representative of 2plan wealth management Ltd. It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the FCA register (www.fca.org.uk) under number 507231. Company Registered in Scotland under number SC361109. Registered Address 7 Ardross Street, Inverness, IV3 5PL.


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