I am often asked (politely) what do I do?
With the forthcoming election (and potential volatility) it brings to the fore my role within LWM. We are custodians of people’s wealth and it is our role to deliver on their plans / goals. Individuals have different needs; as a broad example we have those who are saving for retirement, those who are receiving an income and those who are looking to use funds to buy a house.
So the needs and requirements for each person differs but it is the engine that drives the delivery of those plans that is broadly similar. Nicola’s and Paul’s roles are perhaps the real jobs, which is about talking to you and understanding your needs and then drawing up a plan to deliver that. My role is about designing portfolios which deliver on these plans.
There are things that I do to help Nicola and Paul deliver your plans which some of you have used, and in this blog I want to cover some of this in more detail.
Some time ago I listened to a fund manager explain that his role was to grow investors wealth slowly. It was not about taking big risks, and chasing short term ‘punts’ but steady, compounding of growth year in, year out.
Fundamentally when I review and manage the portfolios this is at the forefront of everything I do. We know there will be volatility in the market, and we know we can’t avoid it but we can build in safeguards.
In recent fund manager interviews, the burning question is always ‘what will happen to the markets in May’. The answer, in short, is ‘we don’t know’. Last year the question was ‘what will happen to the markets in September’, and if I go back it was what will happen if Greece leaves the European Union. Last year it wasn’t the Scottish Referendum that upset the market (although there was some short term volatility) but the oil prices at the end of the year.
The point being is that there will always be volatility in the market and in the short term holding equities can seem risky, but a diversified portfolio is less risky when viewed over the long term. Assuming no unknowns happen this year, it will be interesting to see what the portfolios return. It is only a guess but we said it could be 5 to 7%, which is a more normalised return rate. Many fund managers would concur with this. So although the markets may bounce around in May overall the return for the year could be positive. Of course an ‘unknown’ could happen and then any forecast goes out the window.
We do a lot of work around ‘what if’ scenarios? There are unknowns, in 2011, 2008, 2002, 2001, 1987 and 1973 there were events which had negative impacts on markets. In 2008 a global financial meltdown occurred and by back testing the portfolios we can see the falls, and then the rebound the following year. For the Defensive Portfolio we are building for 2015 / 2016, the fall in 2008 was 9.32%, in 2009 the portfolio would have risen by 22.93%. This is the type of information I am constantly analysing to ensure we don’t build too much risk into the portfolios (but also don’t compromise returns).
On a day to day basis my role is about analysing trends, listening and talking to managers. I was asked recently what keeps me awake at night – it is managing portfolios especially when we have an event like those in 2011 and 2013 (in emerging markets).
In summary events like the election and Scottish referendum come and go, short term volatility ensues. Fundamentally the question for me is whether the portfolios are best positioned to deliver long term positive returns.
I recently spent some time talking to a financial planner in the US and he described our roles as ‘co-pilots with clients’ helping them to make decisions. We are not there to take over control of someone’s decisions, but we act as an objective, non-emotional third party.
Many of you have been with us for years and your primary plans are (hopefully) being fulfilled. Our role is to ensure that the funds you have built up not only deliver on the income you require in retirement but also continue to grow. However, talking to many of you now those plans have been delivered you have other requirements as well:
- Inheritance tax planning & reviewing / arranging wills
- New pension legislation and how to utilise the funds for beneficiaries
- Long term health care
Please note the Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Inheritance Tax Planning or Will Writing.
The list is not exhaustive, these are all services we offer and in many cases are included within our fees. We have worked, or are working with, a number of you on these requirements.
I mentioned I work closely with Paul and Nicola and there are tools I have developed which some of you have already started to use and they cover those both saving for retirement and those receiving income:
- Budgeting – many of you are in control of this, but we have been there to help others who have needed guidance. And even family members who are not our clients
- Savings calculator – for those saving for retirement, we can now look at what income you would like to have in retirement and see if you are on track to deliver that in the most tax efficient way
- Income – our latest tool is useful for those receiving income, we can now look at how long the funds will last based on the level of income being taken and assuming different factors
In summary wherever you are on the curve of life, whatever your goals, we are here to help.
We are aware that many of you have families and we (in some cases) have little contact with family members. Nicola is now meeting many of the next generation and helping them with their financial plans.
Going back to my conversation with an American Financial Planner I asked him about financial plans for young people, his response seems obvious but it reflects our desire to help the younger generation where we can:
“The younger you get started, saving money particularly, the more options you’ll have later on. The real power comes once people understand compound interest. Delaying gratification a little bit today will have a massive impact on the future. If you can stay on the right side of compound interest instead of the debt side of compound interest, it will prove very valuable. And of course, financial plans can have multiple goals. There may even be multiple buckets of money. One bucket holds money for 20 years from now, another holds money for five years from now when it’s time to buy a home. Good financial plans can incorporate more than one goal easily.”
Primarily my role is about the construction and management of the portfolios to deliver your needs and goals. However, there is much more in the background that I do to help Nicola and Paul. Some of you have started to use these services, and if you would like us to review different aspects of your plans or requirements, or you would like us to help the younger generation then we are more than happy to help.
For those who have never met me, and only see my name on emails, this hopefully starts to paint a picture of who I am and what I do on a day to day basis.
NOTE: This is written in a personal capacity and reflects the view of the author. The post has been checked and approved to ensure that it is both accurate and not misleading. However, this is a blog and the reader should accept that by its very nature many of the points are subjective and opinions of the author. This is not a recommendation to buy any product or service including any share or fund mentioned. Individuals wishing to buy any product or service as a result of this blog must seek advice or carry out their own research before making any decision, the author will not be held liable for decisions made as a result of this blog (particularly where no advice has been sought). Investors should also note that past performance is not a guide to future performance and investments can fall as well as rise.