How do you get higher investment returns and grow your wealth? This is usually the motivation behind wanting to become a better investor. Yet people have different understandings about what investing is, and how to do it successfully. Here at WMM, our team in Oxford offers their thoughts on what defines investing – and how to invest effectively.
The UK has committed to a zero-carbon target by 2050, aiming for a 68% reduction by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) in the shorter term. Newly-elected U.S. President Joe Biden has also committed to the same target for the USA. Within the investment world, moreover, large asset management firms are trying to meet growing investor demand for environmentally-friendly funds and investment opportunities. In light of the above, what is the current landscape like for ethical investments in 2021? What kind of prospects lie ahead for those looking to increase the “ESG profile” of their portfolio (environmental, social and governance)?
Stock markets, over time, have historically shown to produce strong investment growth. In the USA, for instance, the S&P 500 index has risen from 264.53 in January 1928 to 3,714.24 in January 2021. Its average annual return, therefore, has been about 8%–11% since inception.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had many consequences. One of them is a spike in public debt as the UK government rolled out costly support measures such as the Job Retention Scheme (i.e. “furlough”), cash grants for struggling businesses and deferred VAT payments. Whilst arguably necessary, these measures have led to record government borrowing which totalled £2.1tn in December 2020, equivalent to 99.5% of the UK’s GDP (gross domestic product).
Cash in the bank feels great – especially after a year like 2020, which has shown the importance of having a strong emergency buffer. However, is your cash really working for you? Inflation (i.e. the “cost of living”) stood at around 0.7% in 2020, yet interest rates on easy-access UK savings accounts are currently barely breaking even with this. Therefore, those with large cash savings are likely missing out higher returns offered elsewhere – and may even lose money in real terms later this year if inflation rises, as it might indeed do. As such, what are some other options?
The UK’s four-year wrangling with the EU for a Brexit “trade deal” has finally ended. At 11pm on the 31st of December 2020, the “transition period” – during which the EU’s rules for trade, travel and business temporarily still applied to the UK – ended. From the 1st of January 2021 the relationship between the UK and EU will be governed primarily by the formal Brexit deal that has been agreed.
To help deal with the financial pressures brought on by the pandemic in 2020, many companies across sectors have cut their dividends – choosing instead to hold more profits as cash reserves to weather harsher global economic conditions. This, of course, has had a big impact on income investors – i.e. those who draw a significant monthly income from dividends and/or other income generating assets (e.g. bonds). In this article, we explore what impact this has already created on income investors and what the outlook might be as we enter 2021.
NS&I Premium Bonds are an interesting alternative to saving into a regular savings account. Yet they have come into the public spotlight in December 2020 due to a recently-announced cut in the rate they offer, from 1.4% to 1%. As a result, many people are now questioning whether they are still worthwhile or if your cash savings are better off in a Cash ISA or similar account at your local high street bank. Below, our financial planning team here at WMM offers some thoughts on this important subject for you to factor into your own case.
Regardless of one’s politics, Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election marks an important event for investors’ portfolios – not only those residing in America, but also globally. In this article, our financial planning team here at WMM offers some thoughts on how the election result has impacted stock markets in the short term, as well as reflections on how investments may be affected in 2021 and beyond.
There is a perception that bonds are for “cautious” investors and that equities are for more “aggressive” investors, and that’s partly true. Yet 2020 has cast a spotlight on bonds in light of COVID-19 and other events in the economy (e.g. Governments around the world buying bonds). In this article, our financial planning team at WMM in Oxford wanted to share this round-up of the key developments and trends regarding bonds within the last 12 months. We hope you find this helpful and invite you to get in touch if you have any questions.