The COVID-19 situation in the UK has caused a great deal of uncertainty for investors. The FTSE 100 lost around 30% of its value from the beginning of February to the fourth week in March. A swift response from the central bank to help keep the economy afloat did cause a slight rebound in equity prices, however the FTSE 100 still sits around 2000 points lower compared to the start of the year.
In Oxford, the Charles Stanley team took the proactive step of implementing our business continuity plan before the lockdown was announced, ensuring that we ironed out any technical issues before it became our reality.
While staff continue to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of working from home, our investment managers have access to all the systems and tools they normally use and are able to continue business as usual as a result of having sophisticated technology. They have full access to all dealing and pricing screens and a variety of communication channels, so that our clients’ needs can continue to be serviced and they can be updated on any changes to their investments.
With many companies shutting their doors completely and an increasing number of employees working from home, Charles Stanley are in the fortunate position that we don’t outsource our dealing facility. Our dealers are ‘in house’ and have well established relationships with counterparties which is proving invaluable in times like this as it means we are able to continue our investment strategy in the same efficient manner.
It is really important that clients are kept up to date with market developments and are communicated with regularly in order to take advantage of market opportunities, and de-risk where necessary. The aim is to be proactive, rather than reactive, and we are having many discussions with clients, talking through any worries or concerns that they have. A simple phone call is proving very welcome, whether it’s talking about the markets and their investments, or just a general chat to see how they are. We have established a Charles Stanley Community initiative to assist with shopping or picking up prescriptions. The reaction to this has surpassed expectation and we are proud that we are able to provide this personal service in such uncertain and worrying times.
Diversification is key in uncertain times like this. Our bespoke portfolios are designed around a number of regions and sectors to ensure that our clients do not have ‘all their eggs in one basket’. We continue to work with our dedicated research analysts to identify key trends and themes in the market, both at home and overseas. We pride ourselves on our bespoke portfolio service and we are able to adapt our investment strategy, taking into account investment time horizons, capacity for loss and long term goals and aspirations.
As we start the new tax year, we have taken advantage of the recent market volatility to complete ‘Bed and ISA’ transactions for those investments which form part of our long term core investment strategy. By selling these investments in client’s taxable portfolios, and simultaneously repurchasing in their ISA portfolios, any sharp rebound in equity prices will have the benefit of occurring within the capital gains tax and income tax free environment of the ISA portfolios.
At the timing of writing, there remains many possible outcomes as to how the situation will play out and it remains unclear as to how long companies will remain operating in current conditions and to what extent this impact that this will have on both share prices and dividend payments. For now we try to navigate these uncertain times, reacting quickly to undervalued investment opportunities, and taking risk off the table where required.
For more information about Charles Stanley’s Bespoke Discretionary Managed service please contact Ria Shepheard, Office Manager, Charles Stanley.
Ria.Shepheard@charles-stanley.co.uk or call Tel: 01865 987 485