In this article I would just like to touch briefly on a subject which, during the good times might seem somewhat banal and maybe even pointless, but when we hit the bad times we can see the merit of why we use asset managers such as Rathbones, Tilney, WHIreland and Cazenove to manage our clients’ money.
During this time in lockdown and financial market instability, I have been listening to a number of webinars from investment managers and financial gurus to try and understand what they think is likely to happen when we exit this crisis. Below are some of the points which I have heard:
- Within the next 6-12 months dividends from some of the best dividend paying companies will be slashed or even cut completely, to shore up cash reserves.
- Even more focus will be put on the way we live and the way companies operate. We could see an even greater resurgence into ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) stocks. If you are unsure what they are then you can check out the article I wrote on this earlier this year.
- We may have seen the bottoming of the markets, but much depends on what will happen in the USA. As it stands, almost 7 million people have already applied for unemployment benefit. If that rate continues it means the US will have an unemployment rate of approx 15% very soon. A level not seen since the Great Depression in 1929.
- Any early plateau’s in the infection and death rate in Europe will be a good signal for financial markets.
- Companies who were struggling to survive prior to this crisis will likely collapse. A great example of this is the UK retailer Debenhams which, as I write, has just brought the administrators in to look at winding the company up. However, the new tech savvy companies that have responded to changing customer trends will strengthen their position as market competition fails.
- Nationalisations are likely, more so in the EU than the UK and the USA. Companies in the travel, retail, and leisure sectors are at the greatest risk of being nationalised. Part nationalisations are a huge drag on company performance and would be areas to avoid when the dust settles.
- Smart working could become popular. Companies may start to change their attitude towards office space and allow more smart working for their employees. This could mean potential productivity increases but may also change the dynamics of the property market as well, mainly in the cities.
- Is Capitalism dead? A subject which seems to be thrown around whenever we have a crisis. Actually the thinking is, not at all. In fact, one manager thought that there was likely to be a resurgence of ‘responsible’ capitalism. A capitalism that is no longer unfettered, but is more controlled allowing prosperity to grow, while at the same time focussing on our care of the environment, social care and supervision of corporate governance practices. Will we ever be weaned off this perpetual standard of prosperity and GDP growth, which is unsustainable in so many ways?