Jeff Prestridge  

Batten down the hatches

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

To add icing to the mortgage cake, and provided personal finances permit, any savings made from prudent household-bill keeping could then be used to overpay the mortgage.

Given the rather unpredictable and pessimistic outlook, it is quite difficult to argue the case for investing. Even companies that make their living from managing equity portfolios are ultra cautious.

Aegon talks about “continued upheaval”, although it also says this year could be “the comeback year” – talk about hedging your bets.

Searching for positives

Ben Yearsley, a director of financial adviser Shore Financial Planning, says: “There aren’t too many positives to look at in 2019 [on the global front] with growth slowing and populism rising.” But he does go on to say that the UK stock market looks cheap on “many measures”.

Wealth manager Canaccord Genuity refers to “another bumpy year for investors”, while Richard Hunter of Interactive Investor warns that the “relentless surge of pessimism could persist during 2019”.

There is more of the same but you get the picture. More pessimism than optimism. More grimaces than smiles.

As financial planners, your role this year will be to reassure clients that despite all the horrible background noise, their long-term financial interests are in good hands. That more often than not it pays to keep investing – and invested – in the stock market, even when the doom merchants are talking about an encroaching apocalypse.

Maybe everything will turn out all right. Maybe, between now and March 29, some kind of Brexit deal will be cobbled together and passed by the House of Commons, and both the UK stock market and pound will rejoice by soaring in value.

Maybe Theresa May will still be prime minister, not JC supported by JM. 

Maybe President Trump and Xi Jinping will embrace and strike a trade deal. Maybe President Vladimir Putin will stop beating his chest and stop pretending that the world is his to conquer. 

Maybe financial Armageddon will be avoided. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Let’s hope so.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday