Investment Quorum’s End of Year Briefing
As we close for Christmas and take a well-earned break after a very busy year, I thought I would share some of the highlights of 2019 with you.
As many of you know, we completed our management buyout in August 2018, and most of 2019 saw us continuing to invest in our internal infrastructure. We have recruited five new members of staff (including four bright university graduates) to work alongside our experienced team of professionals, within the framework of the company’s longer-term staff development programme.
In September, we moved offices. We are in the same building on Gresham Street, but in a much larger, lighter space with floor-to-ceiling windows and foliage to create a good working environment for the IQ team and our directors.
We have also just completed a major inter-office IT hardware upgrade, modernising our technology capabilities. We are keen to enhance our online client proposition and provide you with better information directly, as well as streamlining our processes, creating better systems and ultimately connecting us with you more effectively.
Throughout the year, our Chief Investment Officer Peter Lowman has kept you up to speed as global events have unfolded. We have highlighted some of these below:
- The Bond Markets:
Total negative-yielding debt around the world now stands at more than US$17 trillion as rising market volatility, dovish central bank policy and the return of quantitative easing combine to generate an unprecedented rally in bond markets. And an inverted yield curve in the US means that a recession could be on the cards for 2020/2021.
“While bond returns are likely to be lower over the coming years, falling rates have an upside – at least on paper: the further they fall, the higher bond prices will rise.
- Global Equity Markets:
Although global economic growth has been impacted by the US-China trade tariff war, Brexit uncertainty and geopolitical risks, the global equity markets have rallied very strongly. Indeed, Wall Street hit an all-time high on the back of a remarkable rise in the share prices of leading US tech companies.
“Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway” – Warren Buffet
- Foreign Exchange Markets:
While the US dollar has remained strong throughout the year, sterling has experienced high levels of volatility against a backdrop of uncertainty created by Brexit and the UK general election. In the emerging markets, the Washington-Beijing deadlock created a measure of currency instability.
While a weaker pound does not sound hugely advantageous for the country, it does have three significant benefits: increased economic growth, a reduced account deficit and a more developed export market.
In the commodity markets, precious metals benefited from the climate of uncertainty: gold bullion has been in high demand among both international investors and selective central banks. In the energy market, the OPEC group of oil-producing countries has announced a cut in oil production in a bid to stabilise prices
“The desire of gold is not for gold it is for the means of freedom”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Political events:
A great deal of insecurity has been created by political events around the world this year: student demonstrations in Hong Kong, protests in Spain’s Catalonia region, the UK’s general election and Brexit… and most recently the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach President Trump in the US.
“You may fool all of the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. Abraham Lincoln
- Financial markets and the overall investment backdrop:
Much of 2019 has been very rewarding for global investors who have embraced risk in the equity markets. Bad news has been good news for financial assets: equities, bonds and gold have all delivered healthy returns over the calendar year – something which rarely happens.
“What a fantastic year it has been for financial assets. Obviously, the question now is: are we at the end of this current bull market? Possibly. But it’s worth remembering that “bull markets do not die of old age: they die of unforeseen events”.
This year, the company was awarded its chartered status for financial planning from the Personal Finance Society. We were also awarded a Gold Standard for our Defined Benefit Pension Transfer services – one of the most highly-regulated areas of financial planning. The firm has always had an exemplary relationship with the Financial Conduct Authority, and we fully intend to maintain it, ensuring that our clients’ interests remain at the heart of everything we do.
As far as corporate social responsibility is concerned, we are very proud that the firm has donated part of its profits to two main charities: Street Child and the Bethesda Life Centre. Social responsibly is one of our key drivers and underpins our business ethos.
Internally, we are pleased to announce that Charlotte Goodrich got married and is now Charlotte Thomas, while Stephen Daly and his wife welcomed baby Jessica.
As more and more of us reach financial freedom and look forward to a prosperous retirement, the financial planning team, headed up by Nick Rolf, has been working diligently on building robust cash-flow models for clients –essential tools in preparing for almost any life event.
His team has been working with a wide range of clients: successful entrepreneurs, people preparing for retirement, high-net-worth individuals, families seeking to pass on wealth to their children and people who have had to endure some tough life challenges.
Be assured that the IQ team is always on hand, quietly supporting its clients during their most difficult times.
We remain a committed business – putting each other and our clients first, ensuring our long-term loyalty to both.
Although a time of joy for most, Christmas can also be difficult for many of us. Our thoughts and our prayers are with everyone at this time of year.
Finally, we all look forward to seeing and welcoming you to our offices in 2020. Look out for the invitation to our 20th birthday party in September 2020.
All of us at Investment Quorum wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Petronella West is the Chief Executive Officer at Investment Quorum, and is focused on providing personalised financial planning and investment solutions.
This article does not constitute specific advice and investors should bear in mind that capital invested is not guaranteed. Investment Quorum is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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