How will politics shape 2019?

This article is part of
Guide to the outlook for 2019

Scott Gallacher, a director and chartered financial planner at Rowley Turton, says: “We have received a couple of emails [about Brexit], but these represent about 2 or 3 per cent of our client base.”

He notes: “Volatility is always there, in some shape or form. Some of us are old enough to have seen and experienced the impact of global events while managing clients. I recall the effects of the September 11 attacks and the aftermath.

“There’s always a reason to be fearful, and some asset classes may be affected more than others. The key is to ensure clients have a well balanced, diversified portfolio of investments to the extent they’re not over exposed to one area.”

Mr Gallacher adds that there’s a wider political aspect to this: “About 52 per cent of the public got what they wanted when they voted in the referendum, so maybe there’s less reason to panic among clients within that group?

"It may not be as clear cut as that, but we’re taking a pragmatic view; it seems clients are doing the same.”

He also observes that, like others, he has seen an impact of the current political/economic outlook on UK domestic stocks but believes a lot of the potential issues are already priced in.

“Some (shares) don’t appear to have too much further to fall in value, and should start to recover,” he adds.

Philip Hanley, director and independent financial adviser at Philip James Financial Services, is similarly sanguine.

“If clients are invested in an actively managed portfolio, with a spread of market and asset class exposure, I don't have any long-term concerns,” he explains. 

“I said the same in 2000. However, 9/11 happened, then we invaded Iraq, and it was four years before the graph headed up again. So, always expect the unexpected.”

While clients’ headline concern is Brexit, Mr Hanley says he assures them that “managers have already taken action to reduce weightings in the UK and, of course, that it may never happen”. 

Words of wisdom

Alan Chan, director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, suggests: “Some clients may not have experienced such volatility, but we try to coach them from the start to think long term and to block out all the short-term noise.

"Volatility will have the greatest effects on drawdown clients, so we’d be closely reviewing their income strategies.”

If clients do get spooked by bleak forecasts in the press, perhaps advisers could remind them that volatility is part and parcel of long-term investing.

They could also divert them to this old quote, from Danish, Nobel prize-winning physician Niels Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”