January 2021

A New Year message from our Chairman, Andy Little.

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To reiterate Jo’s words in her January email to our clients, a belated happy new year to everyone.

At the moment we are all cast members in 'Lockdown 3' and if, like me, you are hoping the fourth film in the series is called '2021 a Vaccination [Hands, Face] Space Odyssey, an epic drama & adventure of the vaccination of mankind and the birth of a new dawn!', laugh or groan, whichever feels appropriate!

At Emery Little, 2021 sees Jo leading both the largest and most qualified team we have ever had. As a supportive and encouraging Chairman, I observe with both confidence and pride.

Emery Little is oozing with talent and our CEO is orchestrating their combined energy and desire to deliver a service that focuses on great client outcomes.  

Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement  

If we rewind 12 months, the recently elected Prime Minister’s ‘oven ready’ Brexit withdrawal agreement was about to be ratified and the UK formally left the EU with 11 months to complete a trade deal.

On the 1st February 2020, my recollection is that I was struggling to find anyone with knowledge and experience of trade deals who was confident that there was sufficient time available to complete a deal. If we had known the next 11 months would see the world battling the COVID 19 pandemic, I suggest that the largely sceptical experts would have concluded a trade deal was impossible.

Has there ever been a better example of deadlines focusing the mind? On Christmas Eve, the post Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement was agreed and it was formally signed on the 30th December!

In the short term, we seem to have dealt with the early days of Brexit quite well or so it seems on the surface.  The roads around Dover aren't turning into car parks and most of our supermarkets and pharmacies (excluding Northern Ireland) seem to be well stocked.

Once a few months have passed and some of the remaining questions have been answered, our partners, Asset Intelligence, will provide a more detailed analysis of the Brexit trade deal. However, they've shared their immediate views here.

In the interim, I have reached out, listened to and read the thoughts of numerous fund managers and economists. In conclusion, there are two areas of almost unanimous agreement. Firstly, the adjective to describe the deal is ‘thin’. The reason for the use of the word thin is because the deal excludes services which account for approximately 80% of the UK economy. Secondly and arguably most importantly, the uncertainty that has hung over the UK for four and a half years is largely behind us.

To sum up, after waking up in my tent at Glastonbury in June 2016 to discover we had voted to leave the EU, the following four and half years have been full of uncertainty. It is almost impossible to quantify but markets do not like uncertainty. There has been an uncertainty cloud hanging over the UK that has now been removed. It is unlikely that anyone will feel the deal is perfect and, yes, there is bound to be disruption but the uncertainty cloud has been removed which is a huge positive. 

Lockdown 3- the opportunity!   

In my experience, both personally and in over 30 years of working with wonderful clients like yourself, lack of time is so often the reason we use to explain why we haven't managed to get around to doing something. 

The other day, I heard myself on zoom saying to a client friend, ‘I am a planner by character, I have spent my career helping people plan to Live Life On Purpose and enjoyed planning to Live Life On Purpose myself. The uncertainty hanging over us all at present means that it is difficult to plan for almost anything.’ 

An issue sometimes identified by planners like me is to remember to live in the present and fully enjoy the moment. Reflecting on my comment last week, what we can all do is grab Lockdown 3 as an opportunity.

Yes, an opportunity. An opportunity to do what we never had time to do and when the new normality arrives we may never have the time to do again.

Here's a few ideas...

1. Wearing my financial planning hat, are your financial affairs in order? Do you have a will? If yes, is it up to date? Have you set up Lasting Powers of Attorney? This could be the time to get on top of all of your financial affairs.

2. Ask yourself, 'what do I never have time to do'?

  • Learn or improve a skill online
  • What books have you always wanted to read?
  • Are there any films you have never got around to watching? 2001 Space Odyssey is one for me!
  • Write? Many clients share that they want to write a book one day. For many now is that day!
  • Re-connect with old friends- a zoom drink with a few old school friends was a personal highlight last year 
  • We can’t travel at the moment but you can plan future trips so you are ready to book when the world opens up.

 

The planner in me says please don’t miss the opportunity of lockdown 3. Yes, I encourage us all to plan how we are going to use the precious time we all have at the moment.

Finally, to make you smile or groan

The Prime Minister has distanced himself from criticisms of the family business when Sir Keir Starmer compared Johnson & Johnson being late to phase 3 trials of their vaccine as being similar to Boris Johnson’s response to the pandemic. *BOOM BOOM*