16th December 2021

As we reach the end of 2021, our CEO, Jo Little, shares her thoughts on the year

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A year of three parts

In a year where nothing felt like it was going the stereotypical way, I’ll open with one; it only seems like ten minutes ago we were preparing for last year’s Christmas and I don’t know where the time has gone.

For me, at least, this year has gone so quickly but at times dragged - sometimes doing both at the same time! Perhaps I need to watch a few Professor Brian Cox documentaries to understand why my perception of time passing has warped so much over the past year. 

As I sit here now, looking back over my year, it divides up into three distinct phases. From January to April, I wondered if Winter would ever draw to an end and I’m sure the lockdown contributed to that feeling. 

As vaccinations started to make a difference and we moved into Summer, it felt as though a weight had been lifted. Even if I wasn’t embracing life as fully as I would normally, the increased hours of daylight and opportunities to spend time with other people helped to make life feel lighter. Summer seemed to last longer - I’m grateful for that.

The final phase is the last month or so. This period has whipped by, propelling me to the year end. It could be that this is just an eagerness to bring this year to an end, and spend some time with my husband, my friends and my family. 

Time warps aside, it’s not been an easy year in many ways - not least the uncertainty we’ve all experienced and continue to experience (hello Omicron). When my husband returned to the office and started spending more time away from home, I found myself alone for most of the day. Of course, work kept me occupied so it wasn’t a case of not being busy but, because I’d scaled back on seeing friends and family, I had a greater dependency on Tom for any human interaction. Once he returned to the office, something just felt ‘off’. It took me a while to work out that I was lonely and although I may usually be very happy in my own company, I also benefit from time with others. Thankfully, I was able to take steps to bring more balance to my life - starting to spend time with friends and family and even getting out for a walk regularly. 

Still, it goes to show that it’s easy to be caught off guard by your reactions, and that, for me at least, it helps to pay attention to them so they don’t creep up on me. 


What has 2021 meant for our clients?

In last month’s update, we asked you to share three words that summed this year up for you. The picture below sums up your feelings towards the year but the words most frequently mentioned were ‘change/changing’, ‘challenging/challenge’ and ‘hope/hopefulness’. There’s a balance in these words that reflects how I feel. I find comfort in the acknowledgement of the difficulties this year has brought, alongside the hope that, well, hope offers. 

undefinedWhat clients say

 

Looking ahead

Many of you also shared your thoughts on the lessons you’ve learnt this year that you’ll carry forward into 2022. Every shared thought has given me and the team pause for thought and I wanted to include a few here, shared with the permission of the contributor.

From Valentine and Irene Soares:

“Appreciating everyday as it comes - after having lost many friends and colleagues and family members - not to Covid but just general health issues and sadly not  being able to travel to funerals and visiting family and friends. So enjoy life to the best of your ability and SKI when travelling is safe to do so”.

From Mary Green:

“Each of us is a very small speck in a very large world. We cannot change the world single handedly but we can be mindful and make our very small part of it a fairer and happier place by reaching out  in any way we can”.

From Margaret Lloyd:

“To adopt a regular routine even though no longer working”

From Robert Moore:

“Work Life Balance does not mean equal. My pivot point is very much pushed to be less balanced and more life. Do I really need to commute every day?”

And finally from Adrian Bond:

“Continue to look forward, always, using life experiences as one of my key navigation aids”.

Thank you to everyone who shared their reflections on this year and next. 

 

The wider world

Looking further afield, it was a noisy year in finance but despite the brouhaha, not a lot happened. The Chancellor’s budgets were expected to set out an agenda that would balance the books after Covid. Not much came of that, although there were some changes that will come into effect next year, which we wrote about here. Perhaps it's because we haven’t really made it to a post pandemic budget yet and, if we get there next year, we’ll see more emphasis on paying back the debt then. 

Of course, Brexit happened. There’s still a lot we don’t know in terms of how Brexit will affect the world of financial services. Much of that detail is still to be defined. Rest assured, we keep our eyes peeled for anything that may affect you.

Inflation has been having a moment. Not necessarily the kind of moment we’d like it to have but inevitably once the world opened up and people started to circulate and spend more, we saw inflation climb. This may be on the radar for those of you holding a BP pension, where the annual pension increase is capped at 5% although BP does have the discretion to go over this limit. We’ll keep a close eye out for any decisions made and will be in touch with our thoughts where appropriate.

If nothing else, this year has gone to emphasise that, when it comes to your financial plan, taking the long view is the best approach. You can’t control what’s happening in the short term and in fact, our biases tend to lead us to think that the here and now is a lot more negative than it actually is. You don’t want to allow the short term to lead to knee-jerk reactions that may affect your financial plan, a plan that’s designed to support you now and over the coming years.  

 

Behind the scenes

Now I’d like to share some of the goings-on behind the scenes here at Emery Little. 

Despite another uncertain year, the team here at Emery Little have continued to strive to give the best possible service. They continue to look for ways we can improve and I hope you’ve noticed this. If you have any thoughts or feedback you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. Please just email me. 

It’s been a busy year in terms of achievements, both professional and personal.

Let’s start with the personal. Oscar Ward and his wife, Emily welcomed Harvey to the world and not that long afterwards, Jasmine Granger and her husband welcomed Arabella. 

We continued to build on our expertise; Kira Iles and Jasmine Bowlzer both passed their financial administration qualification. 

Michael Gibbins obtained his Certified Financial Planner designation - the highest global certification available to financial planners in the UK!

Marcus Farnfield was listed in Citywire’s Top 35 financial advisers under 35. Citywire is a well respected publication in our profession and this isn’t an easy list to make it on to.

We welcomed two new team members, Financial Planner, Harry Dunkinson and Josh Little as Executive Assistant. Some of you may already know Josh through client meetings and I’m personally so pleased to have another “Little” join the fold. 

 

What does next year hold?

Early in the new year I hope to share a conversation with you that I had with one of our long-standing clients, Mark Wilson. We discuss what’s been going on at Emery Little, what this means for you, and some thoughts on what the future holds.

We’ll also roll out some changes to our website as we make it easier for you to find the information that interests you.

Over the next year, I’m also looking forward to sharing a little more of what goes on behind the scenes at Emery Little - and how this affects you. This year we’ve introduced you to many of the members of our team and we’ll continue to do that in 2022. I’d like to go further by sharing some of our inner workings including topics like the technology we use and what role we see technology playing in our business and your financial plans in the future. 

We’re also challenging ourselves to improve our environmental efforts. We already participate in the Ecologi carbon offsetting scheme. We will be building on this and I’ll share the steps we’re taking with you. 

So, as this year draws to an end, along with this post, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing trust and support and, of course, wish you and your family a very happy festive season.