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Category: News

2022 – A Year in Review

No one could have anticipated how quickly events would unfold. It kicked off on a positive footing with a strengthening labour market and a growing global economy – gradually rebounding from the pandemic. It was then abruptly punctuated as geopolitical events took hold and dominated the rest of the year. In fact, the editors of the Collins Dictionary declared ‘permacrisis’ to be their 2022 word of the year. Permacrisis is defined as ‘an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.’ That just about sums it up!

 

The invasion and its impact

The Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February was the prime ‘permacrisis’ catalyst, which as well as being a humanitarian disaster, forced global energy and other commodity prices higher, intensifying the already heightened inflationary backdrop. The economic impact was, and continues to be, felt around the globe. In early spring, the outlook for macroeconomic policy quickly became critical. The path of the global economy was primarily shaped by the consequences of Russia’s invasion, major central banks’ policies and their ability to keep inflation expectations anchored, while allowing a supportive environment for growth – a challenging balance to strike.

 

Slowing growth – a continuing theme

Even before the invasion, the mix of uncertainties led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to downgrade its global growth forecast for 2022 when its economic musings were released last January. While the international soothsayer outlined expectations for the global recovery to continue in 2022, it predicted a ‘disrupted recovery’ with growth forecast to moderate. Back in January, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expected growth to moderate to 4.4% in 2022. This reflected forecast markdowns in the US and China – a theme which continued throughout the year, as growth faltered in the world’s two largest economies.

 

Inflation and interest rates – an ongoing battle

Inflation exceeded all forecasts in 2022, reaching 11% in the eurozone and UK, and around 8% in the US. The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates in outsized moves in the year in an attempt to temper inflation. On home shores, since December 2021, the BoE increased Bank Rate from 0.1% to 3.5%. The impact of monetary tightening on the economy is visible, with broader effects on consumer demand, spending, the housing market and job markets.

 

Closer to home – all change on the political front

As 2022 progressed, political events dominated the domestic landscape. The year saw three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors and a whole series of fiscal events. In September, the fallout from former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s controversial Growth Plan sent shockwaves through financial markets, causing significant moves in government bond prices and yields, a hit on sterling and chaos on the mortgage market. The BoE sought to intervene with a short-term bond buying programme, while the IMF weighed in with concerns of its own. Following new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s reversal of most of the Mini-Budget measures, a level of stability resumed. Challenges with household finances were somewhat supported by the Energy Price Guarantee, one measure which was retained. The Autumn Statement in November brought a swathe of announcements set to pull people into paying higher rates of Income Tax, with more people paying Inheritance Tax (IHT), a cut to tax-free income from dividends and a reduction in Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances. The Edinburgh Reforms announced in early December look set to shake up financial service regulation in the coming year. As the year closes amid widespread industrial action, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a multitude of challenges as we head into the new year, including winning electoral favour for his party.  

 

Volatility – a known known? 

The year was a challenging one for global stock markets. All major indices had a tough time as soaring inflation, rising interest rates and the Ukraine invasion critically entwined to host a potentially disconcerting backdrop for investors. Markets experienced significant volatility and extended downturns throughout the year. Global stock markets have had some positive periods, and as the year closes out, some momentum has returned. The CBOE Volatility Index or The VIX® Index is a measure of the US stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 index options. Widely known as the ‘Fear Index,’ the higher The VIX® Index, the greater the level of fear and uncertainty in the market, with levels above 30 indicating tremendous uncertainty. The VIX® Index topped 36 in early March as the Russian invasion impacted; it subsequently fluctuated throughout 2022 between 18 and 34, moderating in the low / mid 20s at the end of the year. In early December, The VIX® Index dropped below the key 20 threshold, reaching its lowest level in more than three months as Wall Street grew increasingly bullish about the stock market’s future prospects. The VIX® Index reached a record high of 82.69000 in March 2020 at the outset of the pandemic and a record low of 9.14000 in November 2017.

 

Bulls and bears – a sense of perspective 

Although 2022 was a year littered with geopolitical events and market shocks, it’s useful to put what happened into a wider historical context. The frequency of market shocks has increased and, to a certain degree, intensified over the past few years. Recent catalysts such as the Brexit vote, the election of Trump as US President, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the Ukraine invasion and the UK political landscape in 2022, all triggered investment volatility. 

 

Interestingly, 2022 has been different because those exposed to lower risk assets such as bonds were adversely impacted. With rising inflation, higher exposure to fixed income strategies, including UK government bonds, bond yields rose and bond prices fell, which had a detrimental impact on their performance. This was further exacerbated by the political turmoil in the autumn, in particular the unfunded tax pledges in the mini-Budget. Reversal of the measures and return of political stability led investment markets to recover some losses. 

 

The 2022 bear market differs because with crisis-fuelled bear markets, such as the pandemic-driven 2020 crash, a gradual easing of monetary policy was the antidote. This time, however, policy tightening will likely be the cause of economic slowing, as central bankers grapple with inflation. As an individual investor, the key to approaching any turbulence is to understand that market swings are normal and relatively insignificant over the long-term. 

 

Over a 75-year period to 2020, there were 64.7 bull years (the average bull period was 5.9 years), and 11.3 bear years in total (the average bear period was 1.1 years). Historically, bull markets have beaten bears and driven long-term gains. Investing for the long-term and having a disciplined, well constructed plan can help you reach your goals. Also, opportunities do arise in depressed market conditions, like the ability to purchase quality stocks effectively at a discount.

 

Looking ahead – recession and recovery

As 2023 dawns, we enter the new year under the spectre of potential recessions in developed markets, with high inflation and interest rates continuing to place downward

pressure on growth. 

 

Predictions can be troublesome; after all, at the turn of 2022; who would have called double digit inflation in the West, the most aggressive US monetary policy tightening for decades, a crash in government bonds and war in Europe? 

 

What we do know though is that providing our clients with a sound strategy and a financial plan able to flex with changing needs, which is positioned for the long-term and broadly diversified across a range of global assets, will help bring resilience in different market conditions. It’s important to remember that market volatility is normal, and history shows that those who are patient and stick to their plans are more likely to achieve their financial objectives. Rebalancing your portfolio will ensure your asset allocation remains aligned with your objectives.

 

Predictions

While we aren’t in the habit of making predictions for the year ahead, here are a selection from some reputable banks, organisations and asset managers for you to ponder:

 

  • The BoE expects inflation to fall sharply from the middle of 2023
  • The OECD forecasts a ‘significant growth slowdown’ globally in 2023, with tighter monetary policy, persistently high energy prices, weak real household income growth and declining confidence all weighing on growth 
  • The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) projects that the UK economy is on course to shrink by 0.4% in 2023, as persistently high inflation continues to dampen longer-term growth prospects, with unemployment expected to peak at 5.0% in late 2023 and early 2024, up from 3.6% currently, while gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to return to its pre-pandemic level in mid-2024
  • Recessions are anticipated in the eurozone and UK starting in late 2022 and in the US in Q2 and Q3 – Fitch Ratings
  • Despite the headwinds to growth, JP Morgan sees the potential for stronger markets in 2023, ‘a dramatic reset in valuations has created one of the most attractive entry points for both stocks and bonds in over a decade’ 
  • Mike Wilson, Chief Investment Officer and Chief US Equity Strategist at Morgan Stanley, believes, “Because we are closer to the end of the cycle at this point, trends for these key variables can zig and zag before the final path is clear. While flexibility is always important to successful investing, it’s critical now”
  • Real estate company CBRE expect a moderate UK recession throughout 2023 and in 2024, ‘the economy will recover, growing by 1.7%. The economy appears sufficiently healthy to avoid long-term scarring, such as reduced business investment, high long-run unemployment, and permanent decline in key sectors. As inflation reduces and the Bank decreases interest rates, consumers’ incomes will restore their purchasing power. Spending will increase, ushering growth in output in early 2024, with strong recovery underway by the second half of 2024.’

 

“The economy appears sufficiently healthy to avoid long-term scarring”

 

*The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. 

 

*It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. This article does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only.

Your financial wellbeing hub

The past couple of years have undoubtedly been a challenge for us all but, by pulling together, we have managed to get though an extraordinarily difficult period of time. Now, as we emerge into the post-COVID economy, we face a different set of challenges which, in their own way, appear no less daunting. One thing though does stay the same – we’re still here, by your side, and determined to continue steering you safely through any financially choppy waters that lie ahead.

 

 Economic uncertainties

Although the economy did stage a tentative recovery last year and in the early part of 2022, it’s fair to say the outlook has become increasingly challenging in recent months. Surging inflation has curtailed our spending power and, with energy bills set to rise further over the autumn and winter months, the cost-of-living squeeze looks set to continue for now. Higher-than-expected inflation has also triggered a rise in interest rates, while fallout from the war in Ukraine adds to a cocktail of economic uncertainties.

 

Planning is paramount

No one is immune from these difficulties; while some will struggle more than others, we will all be impacted to some degree. In many ways, though, times like these serve to emphasise why people seek professional financial advice in the first place. Economic downturns are normal but having a sound, structured plan helps to ensure our financial goals and aspirations are not derailed when one does occur.

 

Financial wellbeing

Arguably, protecting your financial wellbeing has never been so important and the best way to do so is by sticking to your financial plan. It’s therefore essential to try to maintain any ongoing commitments such as pension contributions, protection premiums and regular savings policies if you possibly can.

 

We’re here to help

It’s also vitally important to keep talking, so do get in touch if you need our help. We’re here for both you and your family; ensuring your financial wellbeing is, and always will be, our primary concern.

 

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

Selling with success

Planning to sell your property? You already know there’s a lot of big things to think about. But don’t neglect the small details either.

 Seemingly minor changes can make a significant difference to how a property is perceived and, ultimately, its sale price. Here are three top tips for putting the finishing touches to your home before listing it for sale.

Appearances count

If you’ve been putting off any DIY tasks, now might be the time to finally get them done! Presenting a well-maintained property shows prospective buyers that the house has been well cared for, which will reassure them that there won’t be any nasty surprises. In contrast, if buyers notice obvious DIY shortfalls, they’ll factor the costs of carrying these out into their offer price.

 Lose the quirks

It’s a good idea to remove some of the more personal objects and displays around your home. Without making it feel like an empty white box, you can help prospective buyers better imagine themselves living in your house by taking away your most glaring quirks.

 Define rooms

Over time, rooms can end up evolving away from their original purpose – intentionally or not. This is normal but when it comes to selling, clarity is key. If the spare bedroom has become a storage depot, converting it back to its original purpose can help showcase the space and market the house more effectively.

Big and small

Having someone on your side to help with the big decisions can help you stay in control of every little detail. Get in touch, we can help!



As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

Intergenerational planning – a growing need

With the next 30 years set to witness the largest ever intergenerational passing of wealth, the need for inheritance advice has never been greater. Intergenerational planning, however, can also help with more immediate financial needs, particularly when generations work collaboratively to find solutions that support the whole family both now and in the future.

 

Inflation concerns

Currently, financial pressures are proving a key challenge across all generations, especially the impact of soaring energy bills as we move towards the winter period. The cost-of-living squeeze, though, is not only impacting people’s current spending power but also their future decision-making capabilities with regard to key issues such as housing, private education or university.

 

Balancing current and future needs

This has resulted in families increasingly adopting integrated strategies, especially in relation to gifting, in order to address imminent financial challenges. While reducing future Inheritance Tax liabilities inevitably remains at the heart of intergenerational planning decisions, the growing necessity to balance today’s and tomorrow’s needs is resulting in the focus shifting to support for children and grandchildren now.

 

Involving the generations

Intergenerational planning tends to be most effective when the process is not just focused on those who currently hold wealth. While funding a comfortable retirement and quality of care for the ‘caretaker’ generations remain fundamental elements of intergenerational planning, delivery of support for the coming generations and ensuring wealth passes efficiently to the right individuals at the right time have become increasingly important dimensions.

 

More families share an adviser

Greater involvement across multiple generations has also seen sharing a financial adviser become increasingly commonplace. This trend offers significant benefits, particularly when it comes to joining up a whole family’s needs with inheritance and gifting strategies, while treating all family members fairly.

 

Encouraging conversations

If your family needs help with any aspect of intergenerational planning, then please get in touch. We’ll be happy to assist by encouraging more open financial conversations across the generations.

 

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation. Inheritance Tax Planning is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Climate Change For Investors

As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, although other headwinds exist, governments, businesses and the financial world are refocusing on what the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) describe as ‘the greatest threat to the wellbeing of humanity and to the ecosystems on which we depend’ – climate change.

According to PRI, a United Nations-supported initiative, many are now recognising “the enormous opportunity for economic growth and investment returns presented by the transition to net-zero emissions.” PRI reflect a firm belief that “the financial sector and the investment community will play a central role in the global response to climate change and supporting the transition to a net-zero economy.”

COP27

A year after the United Nations 26th Conference of the Parties, on British shores, the upcoming COP27 climate conference is taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt this November. Last year, delegates from almost 200 countries agreed upon the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26, which builds upon targets set out in the Paris Agreement, an international legally binding treaty intended to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Key pledges made by governments last year included commitments to end deforestation, cut global methane emissions and to transition to zero-emission vehicles. Countries were asked to return to this year’s conference with a plan to strengthen their 2030 commitments.

“A decisive decade for climate action”

Mahmoud Mohieldin, the UN climate change high-level champion for Egypt, hopes the 2022 conference will be an important milestone in what he calls “a decisive decade for climate action.” In his view, COP27 should undertake an “urgent, ambitious, impactful, and transformative agenda, guided by a holistic approach to sustainable development,” based upon the principle of equity and informed by science.

“In light of the goals and objectives… we will promote a stronger focus on implementation, transforming commitments into actions and translating the pledges of the summits into solutions in the field,” he continued, “While acknowledging the complexities of the different political, economic and developmental challenges, it is incumbent on us all to raise the threshold of action at COP27.”

Engaging with climate change

COP27 will undoubtedly be of interest to investors engaged with climate change, with key announcements potentially impacting their portfolios. Investment decisions have a role to play, and the investment industry continues to play a pivotal role in the global climate transition. One investor initiative – The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative – has now grown to over 270 investor signatories with over $60trn assets under management – all committed to supporting the goal to reach net zero and investments aligned with net zero emissions.

COP provides an opportunity for institutional investors to consider how they can innovate in developing solutions to solve climate issues and in financing sector transition. PRI deduce that, ‘Investors increasingly recognise the threat posed by climate change to the global economy, and therefore to their ability to meet the needs of their beneficiaries over the decades to come… They understand the imperative to engage with the companies in which they invest, and the policymakers who write the laws, to ensure that both groups respond appropriately to the threats and opportunities involved.’

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested.