I am delighted to be able to confirm that the planned restructuring of the business has at last been completed and this is my first email to clients from my new email address.
We have formed a new group company which is Alexander Bates Campbell Holdings Limited and the shareholders are myself and Chris (my wife), Martyn Bates and Lynne Campbell.
We have three trading companies in the group which are as follows:
Alexander Bates Campbell Financial Planning Limited – formerly RA Financial Planning.
Alexander Bates Campbell Limited – formerly Bates Campbell Limited
Alexander Bates Campbell Services Limited – formerly Bates Campbell Services Limited
Clients will continue to receive the same level of service from the appropriate Company in the group and apart from the name change, there will be no other changes. As we consolidate the integration of the businesses, we are aiming for a number of improvements and an increasing use of technology which is aimed at improving our efficiency, but most importantly, ensuring that we continue to provide the best possible service to you as our clients.
All existing Client Agreements will remain valid, as there is no change in the services being provided apart from the change of name. We will however, update these with you going forward as and when we meet up or perhaps embark on any new work for you.
The email and phone number contacts you have been using will remain open for some time, but we now have a new domain and therefore a new email address. The format is the same for everyone – mine being firstname.lastname@example.org We also have a new website which you can visit at www.abc-ifa.com
At the time of writing, I am in the process of visiting clients in Spain and Portugal and without exception, it has been wonderful to meet up again, after what in many cases, has been a 3 year gap. Many things have been on hold during the Covid years, but much has changed as well and the construction industry is once again booming on the Costa del Sol as evidenced by the number of cranes along the skyline.
We were also reminded of the need to have contact information for close family or friends, when we had an appointment to visit one elderly client and could not get any response at the door or on the phone. Fortunately, a neighbour was able to inform us that there had been activity at the house and so we left a note and were then contacted by a carer. It was only good fortune that the neighbour was at home and without them we would have been left without any options. We will therefore, try to update our records to ensure we have a contact number or email for friends or family, particularly for our elderly clients and if you would like to send us contact information, please do so and we will keep the details on file.
As some of you will remember, Chris is a volunteer for the Kent, Surry & Sussex Air Ambulance (KSSAA) and is on their newsletter circulation. Recently they included some information that we thought could be useful to pass on.
The critical importance of CPR and defibrillation
A sudden cardiac arrest could happen to anyone, at any time and in these situations, every second counts. There are around 60,000 cases of suspected cardiac arrest every year, but fewer than 1 in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest*.
Here are some useful resources that I urge you all to take time to look at:
• Watch powerful interactive videos from The Resuscitation Council UK which show staged scenarios of people experiencing a cardiac arrest and challenge you on what to do next
• Learn first aid for someone who is unresponsive and not breathing, from The British Red Cross
• By using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival. St John Ambulance have great advice on how to use one.
• AEDs don't Save Lives - People with AEDs do. The GoodSAM community has mapped thousands of Public Access AEDs. Download the GoodSAM responder app via the App Store or Google Play.
Please don't ever be afraid to use an AED. It will talk you through every step of what you need to do, including where on the patient you need to place the pads.
David Welch – Chief Executive KSSAA
Turning now to the financial markets, these continue to be extremely volatile, and I will continue the theme of inviting some of the Fund Managers we work with to give us the benefit of their current views.
Before doing so, I also wanted to “borrow” a quote which I saw as a headline in “The Portugal News” which is a free English ex-pat newspaper and this is a quote from Warren Buffet, who you may recall I have quoted before:
“Today, people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t! They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value.”
In this newsletter, we hear from David Sylvester, Senior Investment Director at Investec:
This year has been an extremely difficult period for investors. What is it that markets are fretting about? In a word: inflation, which continues to hit new highs for this cycle in most countries and is at the highest levels we have seen for several decades. Markets were expecting a higher level of inflation as we exited the pandemic restrictions, but this has been exaggerated by continuing logistical supply side problems with Asia continuing a zero tolerance policy to Covid with further lockdowns and the sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Markets are equally concerned about central banks’ response to that inflation and the effect on global growth and the potential for a policy error. The central bank response is being delivered in two forms: higher interest rates initially, to be followed by a reduction in quantitative easing, reducing asset purchases, which have supported assets during the pandemic. The main actor in this is the US Federal Reserve Bank (Fed), which has become increasingly hawkish in its pronouncements. At the beginning of the year, the market was expecting US interest rates to be sitting at around 0.75% by the end of 2022. Now it is forecasting almost 3%. That is a massive shift in expectations, especially in such a short period. As for the UK, at the start of the year the market was expecting the base rate to be around 1.2% by December; now it is forecasting 2.25%.
The ratchetting up of interest rates expectations to combat inflation and the concerns on global growth, have led to heightened volatility in markets with sharp declines in both bond and equity prices.
The Nasdaq is down 24.5%, S&P 500 15.5%, EuroStoxx 50 and the FTSE 100 down 14.3%, with only the resource laden FTSE 100 showing a slight positive return on the year. Bond prices are down over 10% with the correlation between the two virtually unprecedented. There have been very few places to hide with even cash offering negative real returns.
We downgraded our asset allocation to risk assets in the 4th quarter of last year on valuation concerns and again in March of this year as inflation expectations heightened increasing the risk of a policy error. We increased our weighting to alternative assets including hedge funds and infrastructure funds that would preserve value or give positive returns in the current environment. Hedge funds as they are able to go short as well as long and infrastructure investment trusts that are invested in real assets with inflation linked contracts. Although this has protected portfolios a little bit, our central thesis to invest in growth, as this will give a better return over the medium to long term, has seen our portfolio returns suffer as the market has rotated into value sectors like energy and commodities as investors looked for demand increasing as we emerged from the pandemic even before supply was curtailed with the sanctions imposed following the Russian/Ukraine conflict. Our investment thesis is to invest in long term themes and companies that grow and compound value over a long period of time. This has stood us in good stead for a long time now and will continue to do so in the future and we do not look to sell good holdings to try and trade short term changes and fluctuations. This can lead to longer term under performance given our past experience as you generally never get your timing right. As our Chief Investment Officer said in his latest piece, ‘Our last tactical asset allocation recommendation was to reduce the equity risk weighting in portfolios. In hindsight, when markets have fallen, it never feels as though one has done enough. However, we remind ourselves constantly that we are long-term investors and that trying to time markets too cutely in the short term tends to weigh on longer-term performance.’
Our current thoughts.
We have seen both bond and equity prices adjust sharply lower to factor in inflation rates hitting highs not seen for several decades. While central banks are adjusting policy to counteract the inflationary threat, we believe we see the extreme volatility continuing in the short term. This is likely to end when the market has a sense that inflation numbers are peaking. Economic numbers are beginning to suggest that consumers are reigning in discretionary spending as they see their energy and food bills spike and the latest worry is that we are heading for a recession. We are not in the recession camp (and certainly do not believe it will be a deep one if it does happen), and believe inflation is likely to peak in the next few months. Global equities are now trading at 15.6-times forward earnings, and only 12.6-times outside the US. Valuations are discounting much of the bad news, and we feel the forces that have pushed down stock prices are starting to abate. The war in Ukraine is approaching a stalemate, with Russian troops unable to progress, or seriously threaten neighbours. A European embargo on Russian oil is likely to be watered down significantly before it is implemented. The Chinese have announced that they will beginning reopening Covid restrictive areas soon, as the number of new Covid cases in China have fallen by half. This suggests we should be beginning to look for opportunities to increase risk (equity weightings) but valuations are not yet especially attractive, and we think there is still some margin risk to corporate profitability, and so we are prepared to bide our time for a bit longer before adjusting our current stance and reweighting towards risk assets.
History shows that markets are cyclical and there have been many periods when current events and fears have impacted performance, only to see markets go on to recover. Although Warren Buffet makes a very good point about holding cash for the longer term, it is prudent to always keep an emergency reserve in easily accessible accounts in case it is needed quickly.
As always, do let us know if we can help in any way and in the meantime, stay safe and we will keep in touch.
Best wishes from all at ABC