It is amazing to think that when I sent the last issue only two weeks ago, we were away in Devon on holiday and already that now seems a dim and distant memory! I have to say it was good to get away for a couple of weeks, but it was quite an eye opener in terms of how busy Devon was and indeed, how many people had taken their dogs on holiday with them! Nonetheless, it was a good break.
Talking of how quickly times goes, can you believe it’s the end of the third quarter already and before long. The shops are going to be full of Christmas gifts, cards and decorations! It will be interesting to see what the financial data is for the third quarter of the year because one would expect this to show significant improvement in many sectors over the previous two quarters, albeit that some areas, notably the travel industry, remain under severe pressure.
I guess one of the things that is dominating the headlines at the moment is the concluding discussions between the UK and the EU, in terms of trying to thrash out some kind of trade agreement, such that the UK can leave the EU with an agreement rather than on a no-deal basis. As always, we have seen a certain amount of political brinkmanship, but in the last few days, there have been some rather more encouraging noises being leaked to suggest that some form of agreement might well be reached.
Unfortunately, the opaque nature of the discussions and the brinkmanship do little to help in terms of planning ahead for what the situation will be from 2021 onwards in many sectors.
One of those, which is particularly relevant to ex-pat British nationals living throughout Europe, is whether they will be able to retain their UK Bank accounts after the end of this year. Some Bank have already been writing to their customers to say that accounts may be closed, and this also affects credit cards.
This is because under the current transitional rules, the previous rules for cross border business throughout the EU was extended in the financial sector, including banking, but in the absence of an agreement, these services may have to stop at the end of the year.
Each organisation has the ability to apply for either a banking licence or a financial services licence in each country throughout the EU that they wish to trade in, but this raises the question of commercial and economic viability.
It is the same regulations that affect ourselves and the way that we look after our clients throughout the EU, and whilst we have a number of options and potential workarounds, it is similarly frustrating that we cannot finalise those plans until we know the details from the politicians. The Regulator for both the Banks and the Financial services industry is similarly unhelpful inasmuch that they simply say that it is a requirement for all organisations to be prepared and ready for the new rules and to inform their customers and clients accordingly – that begs the question – how are we supposed to inform when even they don’t know the outcomes?!
Hopefully, as we enter the last quarter of the year though, we will get some clarity in that regard and we will know how to plan for the future.
Clearly, these are considerations for the clients that we have throughout Europe, but do not affect those in the UK or further afield. We will keep you posted as we learn more.
Looking across the pond, things are starting to hot up in the last few weeks of the Presidential Election and I guess it’s fair to say from here on in, it’s only going to get even more messy! After the first head to head session between Trump and Biden, it seems that the main speculation was how long people stayed tuned in to the debate rather than whether they were influenced by the outcome of it. The political system in the US is very different to that in the UK, but it has an enormous influence on the rest of the world and therefore, I hope whatever the result, we have a clear winner at the beginning of November, such that one area of uncertainty will be resolved – time will tell.
Turning now to health issues, it is disappointing to see how the number of cases that are being diagnosed are escalating and progressively how the UK has more and more areas going into varying degrees of lockdown. I personally have very mixed feelings about this and whilst I know this is all relatively new territory that is being trailed, there are so many mixed messages, that it’s not surprising confusion reigns and it seems that people are being polarised between those who are ignoring the advice and are ‘partying as usual’ and on the other extreme, we have people that are progressively more frightened to do anything at all.
Whilst this is an ever changing and evolving situation, I think the one piece of solid advice that I have seen is that if you are entitled to a ‘flu jab or if you are in any way vulnerable, it is vital that you get your ‘flu jab and have it as early as possible as stocks may run low and in talking to a GP friend, she said that the ‘flu jab is even more important this year than ever because to contract both ‘flu and Covid is a combination that does not bear thinking about.
As always, stay safe and we will keep in touch.
Richard, Chris & Lesley