What we’re doing at BWP
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues in both the UK and worldwide, the impact on many aspects of daily life and business is ongoing. We are continuing to respond to the ever-changing situation and want to keep you updated on how we are acting to protect the health and safety of our clients and colleagues and maintain our service to you.
Many of our colleagues are still working from home, with only the necessary exceptions working in our offices. We have enabled those who remain in the office to adhere to social distancing guidelines by relocating workstations throughout our two buildings and making sure no unnecessary contact occurs. We continue to carry out regular, thorough sanitisation of the workplace and equipment throughout each day.
Our Company is committed to supporting the Government’s current advice and, as a result, we are continuing with the closure of our offices to the general public. Face to face client meetings are only taking place in exceptional circumstances, where no other alternative is feasible. Visitors are requested to sanitise their hands at the stations provided when entering and leaving the building and are required to wear suitable face coverings at all times when on our premises.
We are maintaining our operations at our usual high standard by leveraging the technology at our disposal and constantly appraising additional technologies that may be of benefit. We continue to digitally interact and communicate with both clients and colleagues wherever possible. There is still some disruption and limitations to our normal operations, but we remain confident that we can continue to provide you with a great service. However, you should be aware that ‘normal’ timescales are still being adversely affected due to decreased staffing levels across the financial services industry and this, in turn, is affecting our processing timelines. We are currently experiencing some delays and ask for your patience and understanding in these circumstances.
We’re here for you
We understand how the current financial situation might be of concern to some investors and we’d like to let you know that we’re here to answer your questions and to provide guidance. You can get in touch with us by telephone and email as usual, and additionally, we can support meetings by video conferencing or group conference calls by arrangement.
We will continue to respond proactively as the situation evolves and will keep you informed if any action that has to be taken that further affects the service we can provide.
What happens to my pension if I am furloughed?
For many people, salary and pension contributions may be being paid by the government under the furlough scheme, with employers starting to share the cost from August. If your salary has dropped, the amount paid into your pension is likely to fall. How your pension may be impacted under the scheme is explained in this leaflet, published by one of the UK’s leading wealth managers.
Keeping safe from scams
Unfortunately, there has been increase in financial crime. Criminals are now preying on people’s fear by launching various fraud and phishing campaigns.
Coronavirus-related fraud has increased by 400% in March, and since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 105 reports of fraud where coronavirus or COVID-19 was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £970,000.
Remember, we’re here to provide guidance if you are suspicious of any communications regarding your money, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Financial Market update
Global stock market movements have been unprecedented and nothing short of dramatic since the pandemic took hold. With this in mind, we have provided a simple and straightforward analysis of the current investment landscape. As you can appreciate, the situation is changing on a daily basis, so please get in touch if you would like a more detailed view. Our primary message to investors, however, is that it is important to remain calm and remain invested.
The second quarter of this year has seen a huge disconnect between stock markets and the economic situation that the world is facing. Whilst the COVID-19 restrictions have caused a collapse in economic activity, equity markets have seen a strong recovery after the falls experienced in the first quarter. The S&P 500 Index returned over 20%, its best quarter since 1998, meanwhile US unemployment has more than doubled and the economy contracted. Equity investors have taken heart from signs of a return to work and progress on vaccines and treatments, combined with massive monetary and fiscal stimulus around the world.
As we enter the second half of the year, the COVID-19 situation appears to be improving in many parts of the world, although with some notable exceptions. Whilst some areas of the US are getting better, the overall picture is still dire. In some areas, for example Texas and Florida, intensive care units are reaching full capacity. In the UK, we have seen a renewed lockdown in Leicester and can expect other hotspots to emerge in the months to come. On a more positive note, as we are learning more about the virus, we are seeing greater progress in terms of both treatments and the development of a vaccine. Strict lockdown measures have proven an effective method in reducing the spread of the virus, albeit they come at an economic cost.
Away from COVID-19, in the second half of the year the US presidential election will be a focus for investors. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and the resultant economic recession has seen his standing in the opinion polls fall sharply. At present, Joe Biden is the favourite, but he has not had a strong campaign. The new virus infections are now concentrated in states that voted Republican, rather than Democrat, and therefore we may expect a vigorous response from Donald Trump.
In the UK, the deadline set in UK legislation for an extension to the Brexit transition passed at the end of June. There has been little progress on the post-Brexit trade talks, with regulation and fisheries still major blockages. As we move towards the year-end it may focus minds, but with governments occupied with the pandemic response, making any progress may be difficult.
The pandemic has accelerated many trends that were already in place. Online shopping, flexible working from home, less business travel and the use of video conferencing amongst them. This has led to an enormous dispersion in returns. Economically, there is talk of V-, W-, U- or L-shaped recoveries. Within individual companies, we will no doubt see all of these over time. As markets continue to balance the economic slowdown with fiscal and monetary stimuli, we expect volatility to be high and the dispersion of returns to be wide.
Keeping a balanced perspective
Whilst this current situation is undoubtedly worrying over the short term, we continue to remain confident for the long-term prospects of investments. We would urge caution and restraint in these volatile conditions and do not recommend any change to your investment strategy that you have agreed with your financial adviser. Your investments are in line with your risk profile and time horizon and as such, we would recommend that you remain invested in accordance with this, rather than to sell out, realising losses.
Please read this leaflet, which gives some valuable insights, in case you’re worried about how the current market conditions may be adversely affecting your investments.
If you have any questions or would like some more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Telephone 01454 773690