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Viewing posts categorised under: UK General Elections

Political shock in the UK

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Currencies, Italy, sterling, UK General Elections, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 13th December 2019

13.12.19

Dear Readers of my articles

I am writing you a very short email today after what appears to be somewhat of a political shock in the UK. I will refrain from further comment until I have had time to let things sink in and I can discuss possible financial consequences in a rational manner.

However, where one loses another gains, as the saying goes, and one of the fortunate consequences of this vote in the UK is that it will bring, I think, short termed optimism and bear favourably on pounds sterling. I doubt this will continue as the reality of leaving the EU strikes home once again, and let’s not forget that a NO Deal scenario is now a real possibility again.

My point is that as I write this GBP: EUR has bounced to 1:21. If you have money in GBP and you need to convert to EUR you might be staring at a very favourable rate. I am not making any assumptions on where it will go during the course of the day, weeks ahead or even months, but compared to the last few years the exchange rate is quite attractive for sterling conversion to euro.

It was predicted that this would happen after a Tory majority win, so take advantage where you can.

Enjoy the day ahead as news comes in and we start to find out what the future holds for UK politics.

Sterling after Brexit

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: BREXIT, Currencies, Elections, Italy, UK General Elections
This article is published on: 3rd December 2019

03.12.19

In this article I want to look at what has happened to sterling since Brexit and the outlook. In 2015, when the world seemed a lot more secure, GBP v EUR was trading over 1.40 and life seemed good. Anyone holding GBP based assets and incomes would find that their money went a long way. Today it is trading at 1.17.

With all this confusion it inevitably causes some uncertainty. This seed of uncertainty has shown itself nowhere better than in the continued daily swings of GBP v EUR.

It has been a while since my last E-zine. I am sure that it won’t go unnoticed that this E-zine is coinciding with the UK general election on December 12th. At the present time the Conservatives are polling for a small majority, but it would seem to be anyone’s guess as to the ultimate result.

A RECENT HISTORY OF STERLING
Around the start of 2016, after the Brexit fuse had been lit, sterling started to fall as the Leave campaign gained ground and the markets reacted nervously to a potential Leave outcome.

sterling history

Immediately after the Referendum, June 24th 2016, when the result was announced, GBP fell the most against a world basket of currencies since the introduction of free floating currencies in 1970. On June 24th 2016 it had it’s largest ever one day fall of 13%. To put this into context, when George Soros famously ‘broke the Bank of England’, and made billions by betting against sterling in 1992, resulting in its subsequent ejection from the exchange rate mechanism, sterling only fell by 4.3%. In 2009 at the height of the financial crisis sterling lost 16% but over an 11 trading day period between 8-23 September 2009. The Brexit effect was huge.

I remember calling some currency brokers in the City of London early in the morning of June 24th 2016 and asking what was happening on the trading floor. The only responses I got were “fortunes have been made this morning!” and “it’s chaos over here”.

Roll on 2019 and as you will see from the charts below, since 2017, after the drop, sterling has traded within a range of values and has only experienced a ‘relative’ peak around the middle of this year.

STERLING CHART 2015 TO 2019

STERLING CHART 2015 TO 2019

STERLING CHART 2017 TO 2019

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR GBP V EUR?
In my travels around Italy to talk to clients this is the most asked question. Since the highs of 2015, there has been an approximate 20% loss in the value of your GBP assets and incomes. For anyone living on a fixed income, i.e. pensions or living from assets, this is starting to have an effect. In the past year the number of clients asking to top up their income from their assets has increased. This withdrawal effect represents a net reduction in your overall asset base, when that money might have been spent on future medical needs, inheritance for children, or just for future living costs.

Therefore, it is no surprise to me that I am asked frequently for my opinion on the matter, and additionally whether you should be thinking about converting assets into euro, to hedge against further falls.

MY RESPONSE
I have been speaking to asset managers in London and currency specialists over the last year about this subject to try and get a feel for the ‘word on the street’. I can tell you that the theme has always been the same and nearly all asset managers say the same thing. Sterling is desperately undervalued if we measure it against the fundamentals such as productivity of the economy, GDP v debt etc. Very simply, this means that when compared against all measures, sterling should be trading quite a bit higher against the Euro. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is depressing the value more than anything else, rather than the actual event itself.

The rational thinking is that the currency markets, at this point in time: 3 years after the vote, are desperate for an outcome, whether that be a deal or remain (we cannot exclude no-deal, but for now it appears to have been put to rest). If we are to assume that the Conservatives win a majority (no matter how small) then there could be a bounce in sterling in anticipation that Boris Johnson’s deal is likely to be passed in parliament and provide the certainty that the financial markets are desperately searching for. The deal being passed ‘could’ create conditions for ‘another rimbalzo’ in the price of sterling. My guess is that it would bounce quickly after any decision was taken, although these are only educated guesses.

caution

You may now be thinking, ‘how much would it likely rise?’. Well, if I knew that then I would be a very rich man indeed. In all honesty, no one can say for sure. I am not a betting man but I wouldn’t be looking to place any sizeable bets on it even if I were.

I remember that at The Spectrum IFA Group annual conference in January this year in Portugal, we had a speaker, David Coombes from Rathbones Asset Managers. He gave his outlook for sterling based on the 2 parameters he had set for the fund he manages. In the event of no deal he had GBP/EUR at 0.9 and in the event of a return to remain he placed GBP/EUR at 1.4. He went on to say that for any scenario in between you can pick your own point.

Going further in my own assessment of things, I personally think that if a deal is passed, or remain wins (in my dreams), then sterling is going to rise, but by how much I wouldn’t like to say. However, we must remember that ‘getting Brexit done’ is a illusion in itself. Passing a deal in parliament is only the start. The UK then has to formally leave the EU and start negotiating trade deals around the world. Some will likely fall in place very quickly, Canada, Australia, South Africa, maybe even the USA, but the deal with the EU and important future trade deals with India, China etc will likely take years and may not be as good as Brexiteers might hope for.

To give you an example of how difficult these trade deal negotiations might be, let’s take the example of Switzerland versus China and their trade deal which they struck in 2013. Everyone is aware of the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and how almost every nation in the world would like to strike a free trade deal with China to access the billions of growing middle class individuals and a rapidly growing consumerist economy. Switzerland is one of very few countries outside the Asia Pacific region to do so. However, Switzerland had to make some large sacrifices to get that deal, mainly that the Chinese negotiated FULL and free access to the Swiss economy for a period of 10 years during which time Switzerland would have only very LIMITED access to certain sections of the Chinese economy. The Swiss deemed this to be a good deal! It just goes to prove that deal making around the world is not going to be as easy as the Leave campaign would like us to believe.

Any protracted deal making phase may well be a negative effect for sterling and after any initial bounce on the back of some certainty, you might see sterling enter a volatile period once again, certainly as the unravelling from the EU also takes effect. I don’t buy into Project Fear and think that the UK will find its way in the world outside the EU, but like any divorce it will get messy for some time. The question is for how long and what impact will this have on the currency.

MY ADVICE
In summary, if you have money in sterling and ask me for advice, I will say that you should not convert it into euro right now. I will caveat that with the fact that neither I nor the best currency expert in the world can tell you what will happen, but it is a reasonable assumption that sterling will rise when the next steps of Brexit are resolved one way or the other. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. If you need to convert to euro then I would suggest doing so in tranches, or holding on until after Dec 12th to see what happens. Then pick your time, keep an eye on the rate and convert on the peaks.

(I am adding this note after having completed this E-zine. Our rep from Currencies Direct, our preferred currency exchange partner, called me about 5 minutes after completing this text and we had a chat about GBP expected movements in relation to the elections. She said that they are thinking that GBP v EUR could bounce to the mid 1.20’s if Boris Johnson wins the election with a majority. This is not a prediction, merely a hypothesis!)

Your right to vote and the risk of doing nothing

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Spain, UK General Elections
This article is published on: 31st October 2019

31.10.19

So we pass another Brexit date with 31st January 2020 the next one. I have some questions:

  • Will there be a (another) referendum before?
  • Who will win the General Election on 12th December?
  • Does anyone in a position of power really care?
  • What will I get for Christmas?

These are all unknowns, to me at least, but there are two that I can have an influence on. If I´m good, I could get something nice for Christmas. Perhaps a matching sock for last year´s. I could also have an effect on who gets elected in the UK on 12th December.

The 15 year rule
It is generally known that one has up to 15 years to register to vote in General Elections in the UK having moved abroad. Although there has been talk about abolishing this rule, it still exists. One aspect generally unknown is that you have the right to vote if you registered within the last 15 years after moving abroad. Therefore, this means that you can vote in the upcoming election if you registered on or after 12th December 2004. In my case, after leaving the UK in late 2004, I believed that I had missed the opportunity by a month or so. In fact, and because I registered to vote in the 2005 election, I have been told by my last constituency office that I have until 2020 to continue voting.

If you left the UK within the last 15 years then you simply register now. I believe that you have up until 25th November to do so. If you have registered to vote within the last 15 years, after leaving the UK, I suggest that you get confirmation from your last constituency office and then register to vote in the coming election at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Unfortunately, this could be an election based purely on Brexit. We know more now than we did in June 2016 and so, hopefully, whoever wins, there will be clear direction and they get on with leaving or staying.

Lost benefits waiting for Brexit
Many people have delayed making decisions due to Brexit uncertainty, especially when it comes to buying property or investing. On the property side, this has meant missing out on property value gains, lost rental revenues, or simply a delay in the dream move. From our side, in the investment world, those who have been invested in the types of cautious fund that we promote have seen their money grow by over 20% since the referendum in June 2016. At the same time, for those people who have left their money in the bank in readiness for what they didn´t really know, have seen their money reduce in real value by around 11% through inflation. In simple terms, £100,000 invested in a low risk fund would now be worth £120,000, £107,000 when allowing for 11% inflation. Left in the bank, with no interest, £89,000. People would be up in arms if they were told that their bank was charging them 2% (£2,000 in this example) a year in charges but this is effectively what inflation has caused and has been the consequence of ‘playing safe’.

There´s probably another ‘Brexit’ around the corner, but life goes on. I look forward to receiving my sock regardless of who is Prime Minister on 25th December.

To find out more about how you could benefit from quality financial planning advice and years of experience both in Spain and the UK, contact me today on +34 618 204 731 (call or WhatsApp) or at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com