Holly's Blog: Still steam in the engine despite the gloom

Still steam in the engine.jpg


This week I’ve had the strangest experience of recording some podcasts with a pretty famous celeb. We spent a total of about 10 hours in a studio chewing the fat and it’s a mirror of this batsh1t-crazy year that I have probably spent more time having deep and meaningfuls with this bloke (formerly only seen on my telly) than with my friends!

Anyway. As it was filmed too, there was a make-up artist there. She was self-employed and we ended up chatting about pensions. (I’m rock’n’roll like that.) She is one of the many people who has fallen through the gaps of any Government schemes and this year has been brutal for her. New figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies show (unsurprisingly) that pension saving among the self-employed has declined dramatically over the last two decades, from 48% in 1998 to just 16% by 2018. So less than 1 in 5 self-employed has a pension compared to 4 in 5 employees. Ouch.


OK Hols, enough problems howzabout some solutions?

I cannot claim to be able to solve the lack of any spare cash problem. But I can help with the ‘what to do?’ bit. So – here are a few ideas. I chatted to my plumber earlier this year and told him to sort out a pension - as he retaliated by telling me all about taps. He did a bit of scouting around and ended up opening an account with Penfold, a pension aimed specifically at the self-employed. All good feedback from him. My make-up artist from yesterday is having a look at PensionBee to consolidate bits and pieces she has accumulated over the years. And for those of you carrying a general sense of malaise – but lacking any specific actions on the ‘what to do’ questions – this week Aviva has launched a new app – the Midlife MOT which you can find in the App store.

I had a click through this morning. On the financial bits I did quite well but the wellbeing section was, ahem…a bit patchy! There were a few questions about alcohol intake, hours of sleep and work/life balance which let me down ;0) But I can’t be doing that badly as their life expectancy calculator told me I would probably live until I am 92. (Which instantly made me want to lie down….) The questionnaires are quick to do and the tool signposts all sorts of useful info such as working out when you’ll get your State Pension, how to download budget planners and working out how much your pension could be worth when you retire.

Finally if you’re 54 or over, Standard Life has an online retirement planner tool – if you chuck in the basics of what you have and share your timeframes, they’ll tell you how much that might equate to in terms of an annual retirement income, including any State Pension as well.


Confidence crisis…..

Finally. Every three months we check in with investors to see how they’re feeling. We asked 1,500 investors in the last week of September how confident they were about the economy and the stock market.

Unsurprisingly, investor confidence in the UK economy has progressively fallen throughout 2020. When asked at the end of September, 62% said they thought the UK economy would get worse over the next 6 months compared to 52% in June. Back in February this was 45%.

Confidence in the outlook for the UK stock market has also declined. At the end of September, 41% expected the value of the UK stock market to get worse (and only 25% expect it to improve). In June, investors were evenly split in whether they thought it would improve, get worse or stay the same. 

But there’s now’t so queer as folk – it ain’t all bad!

Despite all that gloomy sentiment you are still investing. About half are planning to increase the amount they invest, shunning property funds and looking to global shares for inspiration. And just yesterday the Chinese stock market hit a 5 year high and is now worth $10 trillion Big Ones. There’s steam in (parts of) the engine yet.


Getting better – who tickles your fancy, dear reader?  

As part of our new growth program, we are testing a revised journey to let our readers review their investment services to help others decide. This is the TripAdvisor bit of what we do. We would really like your help to improve the online experience for doing this. Anyone who is a DIY investor can help us – it takes about a minute. We’re giving a £100 John Lewis voucher to one participant, plucked with the random cruelty that is life’s lottery, and announced in great fanfare here in 2 weeks’ time. Please take a minute to help us if you can.

That’s it from me. Have a lovely weekend. And, as I desperately scratch for some silver linings, it’s not all bad…… STRICTLY IS ON!!!! Amigos, we will fight this bloody virus with sequins and fake tan! Please God let there be someone as funny as John Sergeant dragging Kristina Rihanoff across the floor like a sack of glamourous potatoes…



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