A strong week in markets as the US stock market hit all-time highs. The ‘S&P 500’ – i.e. the 500 biggest listed companies in the States – are up nearly 4% in one week. The upward trend was mirrored in Europe, and Asian markets recovered from the panicked fall on Monday when markets re-opened after holidays.
The rise this week is a reminder of why it’s nuts to think we can try and time the markets. Seen over a long timeframe, all those analysts’ graphs look like gradual lines slowly migrating towards the right-hand corner of a chart. But these smooth lines mask the shorter-term reality of things looking more like grasshoppers on speed. Sometimes, not being invested for just one week can mean we lose out on pretty much all of one year’s gains. And of course the opposite is true on the downside. No-one knows quite what is going to happen or when. So no point in trying to be a smart-**** and calling it!
I gave a rare after-dinner speech this week. (Always so disappointing to go to a posh child-free dinner and have to avoid the wine!) And I talked to a room of financial services bods about Value. What is Value? And how can we define and measure it?
I used my Gin and Tonic fact find, which I think tells us a lot about what sort of an investor we are, what our trade-offs between price and features are, and what sort of service suits us. Let’s play it now. Don’t say we don’t have fun in this blog, peeps.
Question One: Value. Which do you buy:
A) Morrison’s gin at £11 a bottle, or
B) Sipsmith gin at £29 a bottle.
If you don’t like gin (which in itself is concerning, but let’s move on) use Lidl versus Waitrose, or Superdrug lipstick versus Chanel lipstick, as alternatives.
Question Two: Investment confidence. Are you more likely to:
A) buy Fevertree tonic, or
B) have bought Fevertree shares back in 2015 before the shares went ballistic? (Be honest).
One thing I know after 4 years of researching what people think about and do with investments, is that there is nowt so queer as folk! Even in a room full of asset managers – reported last week by the FT as having enjoyed average pay rises of 16% last year, yowzers – lots of hands went up for the Morrisons option. And yes, even in this audience, very few were the sorts of avid stock market scrutinizers to have picked up on the early Fevertree story.
There’s actually a serious point here. We all want different things and like different things. Too many financial brands – especially the Big Beasts – are utterly devoid of personality and characteristics. They are so busy boasting about how they are marvellous at everything for everybody, that there is not enough focus on who in fact they do suit. And how they are different to the herd.
I’ve mapped some of the brands we cover onto my Gin and Tonic fact find. Disclaimer – this involves subjectivity and non-mathematical inputs referred to by arts graduates as a ‘vibe.’
I am prepared for the incoming mail from upset brands who I have not included simply because I ran out of space. Brands who don’t like where I’ve put them. Or actuaries who will very seriously dispute my methodology or tell me in great technical detail how it should be calibrated. To which, I will wonder how to add a third axis to my fact find: which brands make you feel like you need gin more than others?!
Have a great weekend all
P.S. If you would like to find out more information on these brands and more, visit our Best Buys tables for some more methodical analysis and over 2,500 investor reviews
P.P.S. If you want a cross-market comparison on charges for the specific amount you have to invest, visit our fees calculator
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