Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Email to clients, 20 June 2010

Dear Client

If you have been expecting to hear from me recently, please accept my apologies - we have had a family healthcare emergency that has taken up much of our available time and energy for many weeks. And now, for the next few days, I must devote time to answering many detailed questions for the FSA's regular periodic reviews. But I plan to re-contact you soon thereafter if you are ready to re-examine your financial plans.

In the meantime, I hear people around me saying that since house prices have dropped "so much" and the bank and stockmarket problems seem to have been sorted by the government actions of 18 months ago, things have returned to normal. I think it's too early to say that and my general approach is still very cautious. The price of our (or our leaders') follies has yet to be paid, and the economic consequences of national budget reviews here and in Europe may be challenging for some time to come.

Like many expert commentators, George Soros sees as us as between two acts in a longer drama (some describe it as "the eye of the storm") - please see my latest post on the Broad Oak Blog here: http://broadoakblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/soros-thinks-markets-still-overpriced.html

Soros is worth listening to - after all, he is personally worth some $7 billion dollars, which is slightly more than most of us - though even Warren Buffett can make mistakes (the latter recently told a Congressional committee that he hadn't anticipated the scale of the 2008 crisis).

I feel we are in a quandary. Commit new money to investment and you could be caught in another correction from which it could take some time to recover. Hold cash, and your savings could be affected by inflation if the government fails to get public finances under control.

But there are some fairly safe options still available to most of us - in particular, National Savings Index-Linked Savings Certificates. These are backed by the government and offer returns in line with RPI, plus 1% p.a. It does mean locking up money for 3 or 5 years, and yes, if the stockmarket suddenly booms you'll miss out on those wonderful, effortless gains we came to regard as normal in the 1980s.

On the other hand, the official change in RPI over the 12 months to May 2010 was 5.5%, so with an extra 1% on top that would have been a pretty good tax-free and risk-free return.

Anyhow, although this isn't a personal recommendation (we have to consider how such things fit in with your other plans) it's something to think about and possibly discuss with me. Do please call if I can help further.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

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