Strange times

Strange times

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

We’re all currently living in very strange times that have completely changed the way we conduct our daily lives.  World stock markets have all suffered big falls and many of us are rightly concerned by this.  But I’m not going to write a blog about how you should react to these falls or what you should and shouldn’t do as I have written about this before.  If you’d like a reminder:

Just try and remember a few key things such as: try and only worry about what you can control, stay invested according to your risk profile and stick to your long-term plan.

I recently (20th March) watched a Dimensional Fund Adviser webinar that looked at the current market falls in a historical context and guess what, we’ve been here before.  But most interesting was the evidence of whether historically investors have benefited by trying to time events like this, either by selling or buying.  The evidence shows that even if you take these events as buying opportunities there is very little evidence that this will result in better returns over the long term because it’s just as difficult to time when to buy as it is to decide when to sell.  The conclusion is not to try and time at all but to stay in the market and stick to your existing long term plan otherwise you might miss some crucial days when you needed to be in the market.

Anyway, enough about markets.  If you really wanted to read more about this there are hundreds of articles and media coverage you can refer to.  It’s actually a good idea to limit your exposure to all this, as it’s more likely to make you more anxious that you need to be to doing something, which could lead to bad decisions.

So, what is life at Bloomsbury like now?  We all started working from home on the 17th March, which for some of us was not too dissimilar to what we do anyway, but for others was a complete change of working environment.  Given the end of the tax year generates paperwork which is time sensitive we still needed someone to come to the office to check and deal with any post.  Luckily, we had a member of staff who could walk to the office and was happy to pop in most days to do this until the lockdown.  This really helped to process those last-minute transfer letters, and ISA and pension paperwork that needs to be actioned quickly. 

We quickly learned that communication was key to keeping everyone up to speed and able to continue to co-ordinate what we do.  The new Bloomsbury internal motto is “keep talking”, and we’re doing this with conference calls and video meetings along with the usual emails and telephone calls.

It’s still extremely strange not seeing the team every day, and we all quickly appreciated just how much we take the social interactions and the ability to just ask a question for granted. 

It gives me great pride that the whole team has taken the new working environment in their stride and stepped up where needed.  Our aim is always to provide great client service and we’ve managed to maintain this despite it being our busiest time of year, and with the added bonus of the markets deciding to have one of their wobbles at the same time!  Despite all this, we’re on top of normal March workload, we’re rebalancing client portfolios as needed and are communicating regularly with our clients. 

Bloomsbury has always been a heavily process driven business.  We have to be to ensure things aren’t missed and that the high level of service we provide is repeated time and time again.  It is these processes that have made the transition to a different way of working so much easier.  Our team may have had to change where they work and how, but what they do hasn’t changed.  They can continue to follow our processes, which are in place for everything from arranging meetings and creating financial plans to rebalancing portfolios.  In what is essentially a relationship business with a high level of trust from our clients, having a strict process for everything means that when the pressure is on, we have a plan to follow.  Recent weeks have provided a good test of how robust these processes are.

It’s no coincidence that as a firm we follow strict processes using checklists and other written guidance, as this is actually the same as the financial planning and investment management that we provide for our clients.  All our clients have a long term financial plan that is stress tested for times like these and our investment proposition is based on evidence and utilises a process we’ve used for over 15 years. 

In times like these clients need us more than ever and we know how important it is that we are still here and still doing what we have always done.  No great excitement or changes here.  We’re not deviating from what we said we’d do, or from our internal processes, and we’re always focusing on the objective of why we are doing what we do, which is that same focus that we should all have right now.

So, try and take a step back from all the media hype about what the markets are doing and remember to stick to your long term plan.  Yes, the last few weeks have been challenging but don’t panic!

Stay safe and see you all on the ‘flipside’


This blog is intended for information purposes only and no action should be taken or refrained from being taken as a consequence without consulting a suitably qualified and regulated person.  Your capital is at risk when investing.  Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.