First of all, it would be remiss of me not to start by wishing you all the very best for the year ahead. Both professionally and on a personal level. So a hearty ‘all the best for 2019’ from the bottom of my heart.
If you are an independent financial adviser, may your clients thrive and your professionalism continue to shine like the brightest of stars in the galaxy.
If you are employed elsewhere in financial services – wealth management, the mortgage market or insurance – may your stars also shine like the Plough (the first stars I seek out whenever I look skywards in the dead of night).
Enough of the love-in – now on to the serious stuff. Although I am no financial soothsayer, just a mere hack, I have a horrible feeling this year could be a toughone: for consumers, investors and businesses; for UK plc, the UK, the western and developing world. Maybe I will be proved wrong – I hope so – but it is not that hard to be negative about 2019.
Whichever corner you turn, there are nasties lurking in the shadows – the Brexit factor (the plague of our time), continued trade tensions between the US and China, and a heightening of geopolitical tensions, everywhere from Ukraine to the South China Sea.
With interest rates going up, there are also growing fears of a global recession that could take us all back to the dark days of 2007 and 2008. Please, not again.
Depressing? Are you reaching for the Valium as I have just done? And to think I have not even mentioned the dreaded two words that are Jeremy and Corbyn. A combination that could wreak havoc across swathes of our personal finance arrangements, especially when joined with John and McDonnell.
Slow boat to New Zealand
I have already looked into the cost of catching a slow boat to New Zealand where I will trek the rolling green hills of Matamata on the North Island, whiling away my time impersonating a hobbit on the run – and checking that my old pension fund (yet to be accessed) from long ago has not fallen into the hands of the Pension Protection Fund.
For many households and their finances in 2019, it will primarily be a question of battening down the hatches in the months ahead.
Doing all the things that I try to encourage them to do every week in the personal finance pages of the Mail on Sunday – getting best value for their insurances and various utilities: gas, electricity, telephone and broadband.
Of course, no item of household expenditure should be ‘locked down’ more than a mortgage. In these uncertain times, it would be remiss of most households not to protect themselves with the security of a fixed rate mortgage. Maybe fixed for two years, but even better if the rate is secured for longer (five years plus).