Weekly musings

Our researchers

Our research team provides relevant and easy to read articles on topics that you may find interesting as an investor. They visit Fund Providers and attend conferences regularly to keep up to date with market and industry news. Find out more

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Smaller Companies - are the sleeping beauties awakening?

Published on 28 Nov 19 by Liz Rees  (81 views)

Smaller Companies in the UK have had a tough time since the EU referendum. The uncertainty over the outlook for the economy put these more domestically focused business under pressure and also made it hard to plan for the future. However, with polls pointing to a Conservative victory in the General Election, and a possible resolution to the Brexit saga, is it time to revisit the sector?
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Is it best to back winners?

Published on 22 Nov 19 by Liz Rees  (143 views)

Two of the most popular funds on our platform this year have been Fundsmith Equity and Lindsell Train Global Equity. Both have delivered exceptional returns since launch and while the philosophy of their managers is similar, their portfolios have little overlap. Here we take a look under the bonnet at what has driven their outperformance and ask whether they can continue to shine. 
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How low can interest rates go?

Published on 15 Nov 19 by Liz Rees  (124 views)

Central banks are again cutting interest rates in an attempt to counter a slowdown in economic activity. The US and the UK have capacity to cut rates further but in other regions, such as the Eurozone and Japan, rates are already in negative territory. A decade on from the financial crisis, with economic growth still lacklustre, there is growing concern that monetary stimulus has run out of steam. Here we look at what alternative policies might be available.
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Microsoft - something old, something new

Published on 07 Nov 19 by Liz Rees  (124 views)

Third quarter results reported by US companies have been closely watched for pointers of how the world economy is faring. Multi-nationals dominate a wide range of industries and rely on global demand. Highly valued companies which disappoint are seeing their share prices harshly punished. However, one company that stands out as a beacon of steady growth is Microsoft. Here we take a look at the broader picture for US corporates as well as what Microsoft seems to be doing well compared to others.
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Calculated Risks

Published on 31 Oct 19 by Ian Taunt  (112 views)

Having recently launched a new ‘portfolio risk score’ tool for users of our :review service, I thought I’d take a closer look at investment risk and share with you some of the things we’ve learned about Willis Owen investors.
 
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When the disrupted bite back…

Published on 24 Oct 19 by Liz Rees  (140 views)

We hear all the time about up-and-coming businesses attempting to disrupt the status quo of established companies. It’s all too easy to get sucked into the latest hype but a great idea is no guarantee of success. In fact, recent cases of new entrants losing their way makes me wonder whether we should sometimes stick with the incumbents. 
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Taking an ‘alternative’ route

Published on 17 Oct 19 by Liz Rees  (155 views)

Diversification is one of the most important factors to take into account when constructing a portfolio. Traditionally, investors split their portfolio between shares and bonds according to their attitude to risk. These days, alternatives are being added to the mix, so what are the options, which are most popular and how accessible are they?
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Good Money Week - Ethical investing has outperformed the market

Published on 11 Oct 19 by Adrian Lowcock  (180 views)

Good Money Week (5th - 11th October) looks to promote sustainable, responsible and ethical investing. It is now in its 12th year and the performance of ethical investment strategies is being taken more seriously than ever.
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No happy holidays for Thomas Cook shareholders

Published on 03 Oct 19 by Liz Rees  (183 views)

The media has been awash with the news that that Thomas Cook, Britain’s oldest travel business, has collapsed. So what went wrong for this well-known British brand?
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Rugby World Cup

Published on 30 Sep 19 by Adrian Lowcock  (52 views)

There are a number of parallels between picking a winning rugby team and building a successful portfolio. As well as finding the best individual performers, it is also vital to pick a combination of youth and experience and to ensure their strengths complement each other.
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How cheap can value get?

Published on 26 Sep 19 by Liz Rees  (171 views)

A persistent theme in stock markets for over a decade has been the under-performance of the value style of investing relative to the growth style. Apart from a brief rally in 2016, investors have kept their feet firmly in the growth camp. For advocates of the value style the exceptional gap is unjustified. So what is behind the aversion to lowly rated companies and are there any reasons for optimism? 
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Take 10 mins - the time it takes to drink your coffee – to improve your financial future

Published on 25 Sep 19 by Adrian Lowcock  (1,241 views)

1st October is International Coffee Day. In the UK, workers spend an average of 100 hours a year making hot drinks. However, if they took the time, whilst enjoying their coffee, to manage their finances it could be hugely beneficial for their personal wealth.
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The allure of bonds

Published on 19 Sep 19 by Liz Rees  (184 views)

Over the summer bonds were in vogue, with strong fund inflows as protracted trade disputes hurt global growth. As central banks put interest rate cuts back on the agenda, bond prices rose. Bonds are certainly no longer cheap, and in September have surrendered some of their gains, so do they still warrant a place in a diversified portfolio?
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FTSE Index changes-sign of the times?

Published on 12 Sep 19 by Liz Rees  (220 views)

The latest quarterly review of the FTSE 100 attracted more attention than usual with Marks and Spencer losing its place in the prestigious index. This made me wonder whether the changes provide any interesting insight on trends in the UK economy. Which sectors and companies are on the up and which are not doing so well?
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Investing overseas helped UK investors avoid Sell in May adage

Published on 05 Sep 19 by Adrian Lowcock  (191 views)

The adage “Sell in May, go away and come back on St Leger day” is commonly heard amongst investors. Like any good saying there is plenty of logic to it and even some truth in it.
 
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Dividends: more important than ever?

Published on 29 Aug 19 by Liz Rees  (228 views)

Raising the dividend is seen as an indicator of the confidence a company has in its future performance. As the global economy shows signs of slowing, we examine the findings of the latest Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index (JHGDI) report. What does it tell us about the prospects for company earnings and dividends?
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Is a recession looming?

Published on 22 Aug 19 by Liz Rees  (300 views)

The stock market has been changing course as frequently as the weather in the last few weeks. Economic data has been mixed, and sentiment seems to swing on the latest tweet from President Trump. Now economists tell us that the recent inversion of the yield curve may signal a recession is around the corner. So what does this all mean and should we be concerned?
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Addressing risk

Published on 15 Aug 19 by Liz Rees  (245 views)

One of the reasons why Britain is a nation of savers rather than investors is because many people associate the stock market with a danger of losing money. However, there are different types of risk so this week we look at some ways to alleviate risk, and how it can also be rewarding.
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Liquidity in financial markets

Published on 09 Aug 19 by Liz Rees  (244 views)

A suspension of dealing in the widely held Woodford Equity Income fund, and difficulties relating to illiquid assets in two bond funds (GAM and H2O), has drawn attention to the issue of liquidity. The extensive press coverage may prompt investors to question whether other funds could experience similar problems.
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Does Bojo have the mojo to deliver Brexit?

Published on 01 Aug 19 by Liz Rees  (295 views)

Boris Johnson has fulfilled his ambition to be Prime Minister and made sweeping changes to the cabinet. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he convincingly won the support of Conservative Party members with his commitment to deliver Brexit by 31st October. 
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The fossil fuels dilemma

Published on 25 Jul 19 by Liz Rees  (244 views)

Oil & Gas is a large sector in the UK stock market and has been at the forefront of the global warming debate. Whether to embrace, or ditch, some of our biggest companies is a difficult decision for investors so here we weigh up the arguments for and against including fossil fuels in a portfolio.
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An update on the Inheritance Tax review

Published on 18 Jul 19 by Liz Rees  (236 views)

The Office for Tax Simplification (OTS) was asked to conduct a review of the complex and poorly understood Inheritance Tax (IHT) regime and invited both professionals and the public to submit their views.
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What’s driving the automotive sector?

Published on 11 Jul 19 by Liz Rees  (246 views)

If you’ve purchased a new car in the past year you’re one of a diminishing number doing so. The UK has been particularly hard hit but the downturn in sales is worldwide. So, is the disappointing run of data a temporary aberration or a more worrying long-term trend?
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The United States of America - land of investment opportunity?

Published on 04 Jul 19 by Liz Rees  (272 views)

Donald Trump swept to power in 2016 with a promise to ‘Make America Great Again’, yet its stock market has been rewarding investors for many years. However, faced with the rise of Asian economies, and China challenging for global supremacy, will the country stand its ground and continue to thrive?
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Millennials-shaping the future

Published on 27 Jun 19 by Liz Rees  (256 views)

Whilst the spending power of today may lie with the baby boomers, the successful companies of tomorrow will be those that can satisfy the very different demands of the millennial consumer.
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From little acorns grow giant oaks

Published on 20 Jun 19 by Liz Rees  (305 views)

The concept of compounding is one of the most important principles for investors to get to grips with. This is because it demonstrates how starting your investment journey as early as possible, even with small regular contributions, can have a significant impact on your future wealth.
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The lessons from the downfall of Neil Woodford

Published on 14 Jun 19 by Adrian Lowcock  (363 views)

Last week, late on Monday evening Neil Woodford’s flagship fund, the LF Woodford Equity Income fund, was suspended with immediate effect.  This week we look at the lessons we all need to learn from the events that led to this sorry situation and to consider what to look out for when choosing a fund. 
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Who wants to live forever?

Published on 07 Jun 19 by Liz Rees  (440 views)

Ageing populations are producing some of the biggest social and economic upheaval of modern times. Advances in medicines and healthcare, along with rising standards of living and relative peace, have contributed to longer and healthier lives.
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What’s driving dividends?

Published on 30 May 19 by Liz Rees  (315 views)

For investors who depend on an income from their investments, the stability of dividends is important. The Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index (JHGDI) report, covering the first three months of 2019, highlights the latest trends.
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Pension planning through the ages

Published on 24 May 19 by Ian Taunt  (234 views)

Retirement planning is something we should all think about throughout our working lives. A little time invested can really pay off in the long term.
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Europe-will the tortoise become a hare?

Published on 17 May 19 by Liz Rees  (305 views)

European stock markets have been out of favour for some time; growth is lacklustre, shares are not outstandingly cheap and political uncertainty abounds.
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The global warming debate heats up

Published on 10 May 19 by Liz Rees  (304 views)

Recent demonstrations in London by climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion have served to highlight the risks of global warming.
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The UK housing market - booming or broken?

Published on 02 May 19 by Liz Rees  (395 views)

Home ownership is something the British, in contrast to much of Europe, passionately aspire to and house prices are always a popular topic of conversation.
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Investors full of the joys of spring

Published on 25 Apr 19 by Liz Rees  (395 views)

Despite entering 2019 shrouded by an uncertain prognosis for the global economy, stock markets have actually been leaping ahead as investors regain confidence.
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MAPS to guide you: the new Money and Pensions Service

Published on 11 Apr 19 by Liz Rees  (403 views)

As the burden of planning for the future, particularly in the case of retirement, falls increasingly on individuals, the government is overhauling its own free financial guidance services.
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Safety first for the cautious investor

Published on 05 Apr 19 by Liz Rees  (517 views)

The current era of low interest rates means it is nearly impossible to find a single asset class that can preserve your capital at all times.
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Following the stars

Published on 29 Mar 19 by Liz Rees  (436 views)

The media loves to promote the cult of the ‘star manager’ but is it a worthy label or a burden that becomes impossible to live up to?
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Where in the world for your ISA

Published on 22 Mar 19 by Liz Rees  (646 views)

If you've decided to contribute to your ISA before the end of the tax year, the important next step is to think about where to put your hard-earned money to work.
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Ocado-delivering to order

Published on 15 Mar 19 by Liz Rees  (578 views)

Ocado is a UK based technology company, set up to take advantage of the huge potential for home delivery of food. The brainwave of three investment bankers, it is now a fully operational business with significant revenues.
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Putting your faith in Investment Trusts

Published on 07 Mar 19 by Liz Rees  (413 views)

Investment Trusts, also known as investment companies, do not generate as much publicity as the larger universe of funds, made up of OEICs and Unit Trusts, yet there are over 400 to choose from with assets of around £185bn. 
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Food for thought

Published on 27 Feb 19 by Liz Rees  (1,594 views)

Food and beverages are the staples of life, but should they also be a core ingredient in our portfolios? At first glance they might seem the ultimate defensive investment, after all everyone has to eat.
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Is gold set to shine?

Published on 21 Feb 19 by Liz Rees  (513 views)

Gold is a unique asset. Once extracted from the ground, it is not consumed like most commodities so lasts forever, albeit in small and finite supply.
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A new dawn for Japan?

Published on 14 Feb 19 by Liz Rees  (426 views)

Japan has a history of false dawns for investors. Following a ‘tech style bubble’ in the 1980s, the Nikkei index reached nearly 40,000 before a crash took place. 
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A novel strategy for income

Published on 08 Feb 19 by Liz Rees  (454 views)

A growing number of investors are looking for a high income from their investments, without taking excessive risk. It is still possible to obtain decent levels of income, but you may need to cast your net more widely.
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Change is all around

Published on 30 Jan 19 by Liz Rees  (381 views)

The FTSE 100 index, which measures performance of Britain’s leading blue chip companies, celebrates 35 years since its launch this month. I wondered what it might tell us about the type of companies that stand the test of time.
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Returns with sound foundations

Published on 24 Jan 19 by Liz Rees  (442 views)

Commercial property is often overlooked by investors, perhaps because they feel they have enough exposure to the asset class through home ownership and in some cases, buy to let as well.
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Who dares wins?

Published on 16 Jan 19 by Liz Rees  (654 views)

Bouts of volatility, or short-term swings in share prices, are associated with heightened levels of risk yet they can also present opportunities for bold investors.
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Sour tasting Apple

Published on 09 Jan 19 by Liz Rees  (365 views)

An unexpected warning from Apple that first quarter revenues would be below expectations sent ripples through global stock markets last week.
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Financial resolutions for the New Year?

Published on 03 Jan 19 by Liz Rees  (714 views)

The Christmas and New Year break is often a time when we reflect on the year gone by and resolve to make changes to improve our lifestyles and wellbeing. You probably associate wellbeing with your physical or mental health but it is a term increasingly being used to describe our financial health as well.
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The valuable assets you can’t see, feel or touch

Published on 19 Dec 18 by Liz Rees  (701 views)

When asked what we would like for Christmas, many of us preface our requests with a brand name: Chanel perfume, a Burberry scarf, a Mulberry Handbag, Nike trainers, a Nintendo games console and the list goes on.
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No drought in dividends

Published on 13 Dec 18 by Liz Rees  (342 views)

When markets go through a period of heightened volatility, as we are seeing at present, one source of comfort is receiving a reliable stream of income from your investments.
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Is Santa Claus coming to town?

Published on 05 Dec 18 by Liz Rees  (495 views)

As we move into December, thoughts may be turning to Christmas festivities. Yet after a turbulent autumn for stock markets, investors will no doubt be hoping for a traditional ‘Santa Claus rally’ to lift their spirits.
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Investing in retirement – time to think differently?

Published on 29 Nov 18 by Ian Taunt  (472 views)

Following the introduction of ‘Pension Freedoms’ in 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has been keeping a close eye on consumer’s behaviour as they adjust to the reforms. 
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How active is your Fund Manager?

Published on 22 Nov 18 by Liz Rees  (647 views)

When market conditions become more challenging, the skills of an active fund manager can come into their own. Put simply, an active approach introduces a subjective element, such as in-depth research and forecasting, to uncover winners and losers.
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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

Published on 14 Nov 18 by Liz Rees  (616 views)

The wolf I refer to is Amazon, the US tech giant that seems to be behind the downfall of many traditional retailers.
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Price is what you pay, value is what you get

Published on 08 Nov 18 by Liz Rees  (371 views)

The above is the philosophy of legendary investor Warren Buffett, aka the Sage of Omaha. His investing success, based on adoption of the value style of investing, has made him the third wealthiest man in the world.
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Deal or no deal?

Published on 01 Nov 18 by Liz Rees  (631 views)

The Brexit clock may be ticking painfully slowly but is it time for investors to reconsider the case for UK equities?
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No sweet treats from Patisserie Valerie

Published on 18 Oct 18 by Liz Rees  (415 views)

Patisserie Holdings, parent of Patisserie Valerie, a high street retailer you may be familiar with, made the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week.
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Speaking up for shareholders

Published on 11 Oct 18 by Liz Rees  (393 views)

Investors in listed companies have voting rights, in proportion to their stake, which gives them a say in the way the business is managed and how it behaves in the wider environment.
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Emerging Markets- down but not out?

Published on 04 Oct 18 by Liz Rees  (612 views)

Emerging markets have given up ground in the third quarter, so this week I look at the reasons behind the recent sell-off and consider whether the investment case remains valid.
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Stop the roundabout, I want to get off!

Published on 26 Sep 18 by Liz Rees  (401 views)

Globalisation seems to be blamed for a lot of the current shortcomings in society so I thought I would take a look at who it helps, who it harms and where it’s heading.
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Lessons from Lehman

Published on 19 Sep 18 by Liz Rees  (495 views)

A whole decade has passed since the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers on 15 Sept 2008, an event that deepened the Global Financial Crisis.
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The Pensions Dashboard-a worthwhile reprieve?

Published on 13 Sep 18 by Liz Rees  (715 views)

This project, a joint venture between leading pension providers and the government, has been somewhat on-off in recent times but seems to be back on the agenda.
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Thematic investing – Does technology have further to go?

Published on 07 Sep 18 by Adrian Lowcock  (611 views)

I thought this week I would follow up on thematic investing and look at what is perhaps the hottest area of the market at the moment, Technology.
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Thematic investing- is the trend your friend?

Published on 31 Aug 18 by Liz Rees  (621 views)

A growing number of Fund Managers are adopting thematic investing but is it the new way forward or simply a marketing buzz word?
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Spotlight on the retail energy market

Published on 16 Aug 18 by Liz Rees  (485 views)

I guess the energy sector is of interest to most of us, whether as price-conscious consumers or as investors, so I thought I’d look at the companies that deliver gas and electricity to our homes.
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Interest rates: steady as she goes

Published on 09 Aug 18 by Liz Rees  (419 views)

Last week brought important news for savers and investors. The UK base rate was raised for only the second time in a decade, taking it above 0.5% for the first time since 2009...
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Go east young man

Published on 02 Aug 18 by Liz Rees  (381 views)

In my latest market outlook, I noted the enduring growth prospects in Asia, despite the fact that some countries in the region, notably China, have experienced a setback this year...
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Is too much cash holding back your returns?

Published on 26 Jul 18 by Liz Rees  (876 views)

I discussed the pros and cons of debt last week and now I’m turning my attention to cash. While having an abundance of ready money sounds like an enviable position to be in, it isn’t always the best way to maximise your returns...
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Are we drowning in debt?

Published on 21 Jul 18 by Liz Rees  (696 views)

The latest statistic on the amount of debt in the world caught my eye due to its sheer size. The Institute of International Finance estimates that total debt accumulated by governments, companies and households, reached $247 trillion at the end of March, 40% above the level during the financial crisis...
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Investing with a conscience

Published on 13 Jul 18 by Liz Rees  (417 views)

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns were traditionally the realm of specialist Ethical and Green Funds but, with growing recognition of the consequences, companies are now addressing the issues as a matter of course...
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Happy 70th birthday to the NHS

Published on 06 Jul 18 by Liz Rees  (363 views)

I can’t let this week go by without wishing the NHS many happy returns, an institution in which we all have a vested interest. I don’t suppose too many of us remember its launch on 5th July 1948 but we’re all aware that it has much improved the health of our nation, and the unique ‘free at point of use’ model is admired worldwide...
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How high can the oil price go?

Published on 29 Jun 18 by Liz Rees  (670 views)

A roller coaster performance in the price of oil is not unusual. It has see-sawed considerably over the past decade; touching $100 a barrel in 2008 on escalating demand, then falling below $30 in 2016 as US shale production came on stream...
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Inflation: friend or foe?

Published on 22 Jun 18 by Liz Rees  (738 views)

I’m sure some of us can recall with trepidation the high inflation Britain experienced in the 1970s which contributed to a very difficult period for our economy. Since then, a number of emerging economies, including Argentina and Venezuela, have contended with even worse bouts of hyper-inflation... 
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How much risk is enough risk?

Published on 15 Jun 18 by Liz Rees  (687 views)

When I recently highlighted the epidemic of scams targeting the UK population, anyone would think we are a nation of gamblers, open to ultra high-risk investments. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth when we look at the most popular homes for our savings...
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Inheritance tax: are there changes afoot?

Published on 08 Jun 18 by Liz Rees  (740 views)

This week I’m touching on the intricacies of Inheritance Tax (or IHT). I appreciate that tax in general is not the most popular subject and IHT, in particular, is a poorly understood- and often unplanned for-duty...
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Stealing the jewels in our crown?

Published on 01 Jun 18 by Liz Rees  (662 views)

No, my heading this week isn’t an objection to an American marrying into our Royal family! Yet I must say the wedding of Harry and Meghan really portrayed England at its best and I hope their future is as bright as the sunshine on the day...
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UK Equities: unloved and undervalued?

Published on 25 May 18 by Liz Rees  (631 views)

Having been drawn to the more attractive growth prospects in overseas markets, I'm now starting to wonder if I might be missing opportunities closer to home. Sentiment towards the UK has been poor but, as bargain hunters know, there's a price for everything...
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Spotting the scammers

Published on 10 May 18 by Liz Rees  (408 views)

Every day we hear of alarming cases where people have fallen victim to the current scam epidemic. Indeed, UK consumers and companies lost nearly £1bn in 2017 to financial fraudsters whose modus operandi seems to be getting ever more sophisticated...
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What’s troubling tech?

Published on 04 May 18 by Liz Rees  (641 views)

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that when America sneezes the world catches a cold – well this scenario seems to have affected the technology sector in recent weeks. However, it’s worth noting that tech stocks do make up a much larger part of the US market...
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