As the lockdown eases, the focus has turned to getting the economy back up and running. We examine the ways forward into a changed future and celebrate a hero of the week.
If everything was to open as normal tomorrow, would you be straight back to your favourite pub or restaurant? Would you be happy in the hustle and bustle of a city? Or to sit in a packed auditorium? For many, the thought of this is anxiety-inducing, and herein lies the problem for many businesses and the wider economy. Confidence is vital in any thriving economy. Without confidence, businesses won’t invest, people fear for the security of their jobs and spend less, and risks are not taken. The concern is that it will take a considerable amount of time for people to return to the levels of confidence we have seen pre-crisis. Exactly how long, is very hard to tell.
To aid the recovery and protect from future damage, the Bank of England has announced more stimulus. The central bank will expand the bond-buying programme by another £100 billion, which will take the total to £745 billion.1.
Looking across the globe, we are of the view that central bank intervention is going to continue for some time. China, for example, has been signalling the intention for its central bank to increase the amount of liquidity that it provides to banks so that they can lend more2.
Despite the unknown future, there are always glimmers of light. As someone who is on first name terms with their DPD delivery driver whom I see most days, it’s possible to envisage how things are likely to differ as we take the slow walk back to ‘normal’. It comes as no surprise that Kingfisher, the parent company of DPD and B&Q, have announced they will be hiring more than 7,500 UK staff, with 6,000 of those at DPD as part of a £200m investment3. Increasingly, our consumer experience is likely to move online, with home deliveries becoming more and more prevalent. The human race has always innovated and adapted in times of adversity and this is no exception.
This week, an unlikely advocate for social justice emerged to champion a worthy cause. Footballer Marcus Rashford, the 22-year-old Manchester United and England forward, used his considerable following to mobilise the country in calling for a U-turn from the government4. He shared his own childhood experiences of growing up in Wythenshawe in Manchester, to highlight the importance of free school meals to children from low-income households, in an open letter to MPs5. The original policy outlined by the government would have prevented the distribution of vouchers to those experiencing poverty over the summer holidays. Rashford used his platform to explain how his mother had been reliant on the community to ensure he and his siblings did not go hungry. With this support network diminished for many, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Marcus took to Twitter to draw attention to the struggles faced by those unable to feed their children without additional help6. Thanks to the Mancunian’s efforts, the government has subsequently reversed their decision and created the “COVID summer food fund”7. Upon learning his campaign had been successful, Marcus tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.8” An optimistic nod to the power of collective action and the unity brought about by a common goal.
Your investments in a time of change
There is an abundance of news about the economic and investment impact of COVID-19 and it can be challenging to translate it all. Even harder is working out what it means for your own financial circumstances and objectives.
Many people are likely to have far-reaching questions, such as how the pandemic will affect their retirement plans, whether their family is properly protected or if their investments need to be changed. The expert guidance offered by a financial planner is even more valuable considering the choppy waters we are currently in. There is a risk that any mistakes can be magnified, leading to serious implications in the future.
News stories about falling investment markets are particularly hard to ignore and might lead an investor to decide to sell their holdings at a loss. Instead, it is important to retain perspective and consider what the money was originally invested for and whether it is part of a longer-term plan. Money saved towards retirement, for example, may not be needed for several years and so, although there are no certainties about what will happen next with coronavirus, it might be possible to wait for a recovery and not incur a loss.
The right decision about what to do – if indeed anything needs to be done – depends on the objectives of an investment and how it fits into an overall financial plan. With working at home now being the norm for many, using some of the time saved on commuting to consider your financial planning and how it relates to any investments you own, is likely to be a worthwhile exercise to keep you on track.
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