James Coney  

Now is the time for a good financial adviser

James Coney

James Coney

How are we feeling?

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who are currently very glad they sought the services of a financial adviser. 

Now is the time to prove your worth, advice community.

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While others are losing their heads, this is the moment that your skills should shine.

As if the market was not feeling a tad weak anyway, and sentiment was fragile enough, along came an all-out stand-off between the Russians and the Saudis over the price of oil.

That is not a political spat you want to be in the middle of.

We may not have known it 10 days ago, but the bulk buying of loo roll and tinned peas was actually a symptom of something much more malign.

No, not the overriding fear that coronavirus was about to spread, but of financial contagion. 

The negative sentiment about how the country would cope was already giving jitters to the markets. So when the oil price plunged 20 per cent, that was enough to send everything into a meltdown. 

For a few years investors have been warning that the near 12-year bull run in equities would come to an end. No one thought it would happen like this, though.

Rather than the unrelenting run grinding to a halt because of wider economic uncertainty or weak fundamentals in corporates, it was something we never expected. 

The whole sell-off was met with the predictable panic from ordinary savers asking: what they should do. To which the answer is, at least from those who properly diversified or sought the help of an adviser: ‘this is what you planned for’.

This is why we all build a portfolio of investments, so do nothing.

I suspect that will prove difficult to those passive fund loyalists who may suddenly find themselves more exposed to the market than they intended.

The advice I heard the most was not to sell. A loss is not a loss unless you turn it into one. 

Shares have just got cheaper – and besides, now is the time to focus on the long term.

Advisers should be reminding clients that they are saving for the long term. That is not five years, nor even necessarily 10, but 20 or 30 years.

Anyone who began investing 35 years ago has invested through the Great Recession, Black Wednesday, the dotcom crash and they are still more than 1,800 per cent up even with today’s losses.

No one quite knows how long the market turmoil will last. Hopefully days like Monday March 9 will prove rare.

Most economists believe we are on the downward part of a market that looks ‘U’-shaped, but even they do not know how long this first bit will last before we turn the corner.