2020 Vision: Looking Back

In January, when the year was just starting, at Reeves we had no more idea than anybody else what a tumultuous 12 months was in store.

In fact, the general market sentiment was positive and leaned towards the view that it would not pay to be cautious. However, while we increased our exposure to global and UK equities and bonds, we were unwilling to make rash decisions on the back of short- term sentiment and we remained overweight in our cash holdings.

This paid off in March when, as the pandemic took hold, markets across the world fell. We were able to use the cash we had held onto to buy certain equities at a much lower price than they we before the fall.

As we moved into the second quarter in April, markets began to recover and, at Reeves, we sold a portion of our top performing equities in sectors such as technology. Despite the markets picking up, we remained wary of increased volatility as Covid-hit businesses would inevitably have to announce poor earnings and reduced dividends.

Although we had certainly not foreseen the pandemic, for a couple of years we had been anticipating a recession in some form, so we were relatively well-placed for the market fall. We were in a good position relative to the rest of the market and we performed well against benchmark.

Going into May, we sold slightly more equity for our more cautious clients and retained much of our exposure to US markets. Our balanced tactical portfolios were defensive with limited exposure to global and domestic equities. By June, Reeves could announce that in the year-to-date, its model portfolios were beating the FTSE All Share and the benchmark.

As the summer progressed and we moved into July, we made no changes to the portfolios. In that month, the S&P 500, which tracks the largest US stocks, reached positive returns, on a year-to-date basis, for the first time since the March collapse. But, in our August investment committee meeting, we agreed that we expected the markets to return to volatility. The factors behind this were the looming US election, with all its attendant uncertainty, Brexit’s fast approaching deadline with little signs of progress towards an agreement, a return to rising Covid cases in Europe, the threat of the UK going back into lockdown, and a historic trend for October volatility.

Sure enough, September brought a second Covid wave to the UK, hitting businesses again and, in the US, rising uncertainty in the markets brought the S&P down by nearly 8%.

In October, we made no change to our portfolios, but, while markets were largely treading water, our portfolios returned modest growth.

We are satisfied with our current asset allocation which reflects our caution in the face of continued market uncertainty, remaining overweight in cash and bonds with our primary focus in November being on possible investor opportunities in global government bonds.

At the time of writing, we are planning for news of a successful vaccine rollout with our portfolios on standby to have higher levels of equity for large market rallies.

Now we look forward to a peaceful Christmas and a less turbulent New Year.

This article represents the opinion of Reeves Independent Limited and is for information only. No action should be taken based on this information alone. Remember that investments can go down as well as up and past performance is no indicator of future performance.


Taking off against the wind.

It has been a tough old year and few of us will be sorry to see the back of it.

Individuals have lost loved ones; businesses have gone under – or been lucky to survive – lives have been disrupted and savings have been badly hit.

However, as the year draws towards its close, and at the time of writing, there is light at the and the tunnel. The US election has been fought and, while there are still disputes, it is hoped that political stability will return. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Brexit will soon be finally resolved, allowing businesses to undertake long-term planning again. But, perhaps most important, it seems that, in the first quarter of next year, an effective Covid 19 vaccine will become available and life – and business – can begin to return to normal.

It has, however, been a hard slog and all investors and savers have been battling against a strong headwind, which means, at Reeves, we have redoubled our efforts in 2020 to serve our clients.

During this year’s tax planning campaign, for example, we contacted more clients than ever and around double the previous year’s total. Also, so far this year, we have helped 19 clients to fulfil their retirement dreams.

Obviously, we have had to adapt to the demands of dealing with the pandemic, with staff working from home and greater use of Zoom and other software. Essential core team members have still been in the office, with all possible steps being taken to secure their safety. With these measures, we have been able to provide our full range of services and support, with clients able to get in touch with our team and seek our advice. For the client, it has been business as usual.

We have conducted an impressive 17 webinars, and these have proved to be such a success that we have recruited an events manager who is already scheduling next year’s webinar programme. October alone saw us hosting no fewer than eight online workshops, on subjects ranging from the pros and cons of pension consolidation to a workshop on top tips for reducing your tax bill.

One of the most popular webinars that month was our live question and answer workshop, a 35-minute session covering a range of topics, including: how our process works, how our investment portfolios have been performing in the recent months and key timelines that we work towards when onboarding our clients.

Another popular event was our insurance workshop, where we invited a selection of our clients five or more years away from retirement, to learn about available insurance options and how they could protect their families.

Many of our events are open to all: including those who want a short introduction to Reeves, those who are becoming a Reeves client and, of course, to our existing Reeves clients.

Apart from recruiting an events manager, Reeves has taken on 17 new staff members this year, including two new qualified advisers, an experienced head of finance and an experienced assistant accountant. We have also recruited two experienced marketing personnel to create a dedicated marketing team. In addition, we have launched a new graduate scheme.

All this work has been recognised by us being placed in the FT Adviser list, Top 100 Advisers, for the second year running. The FT Adviser Top 100 list reflects data compiled by research partners, using their financial clarity product to provide a snapshot of some of the very best advice companies working in the UK today.

But, for us, the main focus remains you, the client. Whatever this current crisis throws at us, we will continue to monitor investment portfolios, advising accordingly, managing client income and dealing with all personal financial matters as and when required.

Yes, it has certainly been a tough old year, but, as they say, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going’’.


This article represents the opinion of Reeves Independent Limited and is for information only. No action should be taken based on this information alone. Remember that investments can go down as well as up and past performance is no indicator of future performance.


Reeves workshops a great success.

Here at Reeves Independent we pride ourselves on not only offering a bespoke service to our valued clients, but to also help them every step of the way with our ongoing and engaging resources, crafted by our talented team.

Last month we launched our dynamic and jam-packed online event calendar, offering both existing and prospective clients alike the change to join our free and educational workshops.

Whilst the world is changing, and social distancing measure remain in place all over the country, we thought what better time to take our expert advice to the comfort of our clients homes, by hosting several online workshops, via video hosting software zoom.

October saw us host an impressive eight workshops, ranging from an educational pros and cons of pension consolidation to a workshop based around top tips to reduce your tax bill, giving our attendees valuable advice and expertise, for free.

Many of our events are open to all; those who want a short introduction to Reeves, those who are beginning to onboard to become a Reeves client and of course to our expansive bank of existing Reeves clients who we love to go the extra mile for.

On Tuesday 13th October we hosted one of our most popular webinars of the month, our live question and answer workshop, which boasted an impressive panel of team members on hand to answer your most frequently asked questions.

In the thirty-minute presentation we covered many topics, including how our process works, how our investment portfolios have been performing in the recent months and key timelines that we work towards when onboarding our clients. We ended the event with an open forum giving our attendees the chance to ask our skilled panel their questions. The panel consisted of CEO and founder Nigel Reeves, commercial manager Bill Brown, our investments service lead Rachael Simms and client advisor Rebecca Lawson.

Exclusive to our clients only, another popular event of the month was our insurance workshop. We invited a selection of our client database that were all five or more years away from retirement. During this webinar, we guided our attendees through the insurance options available to them and how they could easily plan to protect their families in times of need.

The feedback we’ve had from attendees over the course of the last month has been nothing short of impressive. We know that for many it is a tough time at the moment to not be able to see friends and family as much as we like, and at Reeves we are delighted to be able to offer our personal service to all, whilst remaining safe and adhering to current guidelines.

Although there are many uncertainties in the world right now, there is one thing you can be certain of, and that is our ongoing service to you.

Don’t miss out on our upcoming events by making sure you are connected with us on social media and are keeping a close eye on your inbox for you exclusive invites to our next exciting webinar.


Sleep easy: don’t keep your money under the mattress.

Faced with the threat of Covid-driven recession, the Bank of England has been discussing the prospect of zero or even negative interest rates.

If the UK took this route to stimulate demand, it would be following the examples of Japan and Switzerland.

Whatever the economic case, if you’re a saver with significant cash in the bank this is likely to cause you some alarm. In fact, one client we were talking to recently is in just this situation.

Frank Daniels (client’s name changed for privacy) is retired and, apart from his pension fund, he has £10,000 in the bank. Tired of only earning 0.1% on this and worried by the prospect of getting no interest or even paying for the privilege of keeping it on deposit, Frank was contemplating drastic action. He was planning to withdraw £4,000 – the limit his home insurance would cover – and basically, keep it under his mattress.

While understanding Frank’s frustration and his reasoning, we strongly advised against this and suggested a couple of better options.

As Frank is retired and has no taxable income or earnings, he can pay £2,880 of his cash into his pension fund and receive an immediate present from HMRC in the shape of £720 of tax relief added to his pension. This alone would give him an effective 7.2% return on his £10,000. Frank can repeat this contribution into pension every year until he turns 75, or unless pension legislation changes. On withdrawal, Frank will be able to withdraw 25% of the pension tax-free, the remaining 75% will be taxable at his marginal rate.

If access to this investment is important, then he could pay it into a stocks and shares ISA, where growth earned is capital gains tax free, withdrawals are also income tax free. Alternatively, if he wants a cash position, he could invest in a Cash ISA or, National Savings and Investment product such as Premium Bonds.

Investing into stocks and shares carries risk. Your capital invested goes down as well as up and you may not get back that invested capital.

All of these are a better alternative to keeping ‘money under the mattress’ , where, not only will it earn no return, its purchasing power will be steadily eroded by inflation, which the Bank of England target to be 2% a year.

If you’re in the same situation as Frank, have a chat with us. There are a number of options available for you, for the short term or longer term and we can recommend the most appropriate, depending on your circumstances, tax status and personal plans.


It’s market turmoil, but keep calm and carry on.

It’s been a white-knuckle ride for investors and savers this year with highly volatile markets.

In the first quarter, UK and US markets both fell by more than 30% due to the pandemic, something nobody could have seen coming. This was a classic so-called “black swan event’’ – something unforeseen with far reaching consequences.

Of course, there’s nothing new about volatility. Markets, such as the FTSE 100, can be described as choppy, surging or crashing, all indicating large swings in the return. Take Reeves’ portfolios: over the past three years, or 150 weeks, overall returns have been positive, but in more than a third of those weeks, our portfolios fell in value, so we averaged one week down and two weeks up.

Just to make life more interesting, this two steps forwards, one step backwards process hasn’t performed to any regular pattern. So, while over the longer term, you can expect to make a positive return, you shouldn’t look for a steady upward gradient. It will happen in fits and starts and with some falls – often quite steep.

Not only is volatility inherent in the whole investment process, so is risk. Sometimes it’s those people who take the biggest risks who make the biggest gains, but, the other side of the coin is that they’re also exposed to the greatest losses. An important truth about risk is that being more adventurous in investments doesn’t guarantee higher returns, it only gives you a greater chance of achieving them – or losses.

Our Approach

At Reeves we take time to understand the needs and circumstances of our investment clients and their individual attitude to risk, from which, we create their investment plan. During turbulent times like this, we ask our clients to stay focussed and stick with the plan which was created for them. Don’t panic - we have a strategy linked to individual goals, life stage, risk and external factors.

We don’t attempt to anticipate market shifts on a day-to-day basis. We take a strategic approach, looking at the way markets are likely to move in the medium to long term and – most importantly – what the impact of this is likely to be on our clients’ lives. Our regular oversight and review avoids us having to make frequent sharp corrections. This approach is a well-established, tested and proven investment strategy.

We make routine changes to our portfolios in anticipation of changing market conditions and we keep our clients informed through regular communications. At other times, when appropriate, we contact clients to alert them to certain issues and set out their options, which might involve a temporary adjustment to their risk profile. Or, we might telephone a client to discuss their situation and maybe propose a bespoke solution.

Communication

Frequent communication with our clients is key, a Tactical Reeves client can expect to receive an email every quarter with our latest investment advice. We give a recommended course of action, along with a brief explanation of the reasons behind it. That is the fruit of twelve weeks of detailed market research, analysis and discussion, a carefully structured continuous process developed over many years. A monthly market and portfolio update is released via the Reeves Independent Website and Client Newsletter.

At Reeves, we have three investment analysts – two internal and one external – and an external investment adviser, who produce a weekly market outlook to be discussed at weekly meetings. One analyst keeps a daily eye on every fund and portfolio, so that none goes unmonitored for more than one working day. We also we have automatic alert on every single fund in the event of any significant movement.

At every weekly meeting we review whether we would create the same portfolios and, if we decide that we wouldn’t buy an investment on that day, then we take the view that it shouldn’t be in our portfolios at all.

There’s also a meeting held every four weeks to discuss a report prepared by the analysts. In the week immediately preceding each monthly meeting our investment team compiles a report of the main holdings in each of our portfolios. This means that every email with recommended investment decisions is the product of no fewer than 10 meetings.

We also use high level external advice and every week we arrange either a phone call or zoom meeting with a different fund manager of an investment within the portfolio to give a presentation on the outlook of the fund.

We have recently expanded the number of highly qualified and experienced staff in our client services and marketing teams to develop and maintain the highest level of relevant and useful communication with our clients. We have been recognised by the Financial Times again, being listed in their Top 100 Financial Advisers, an award which reflects our knowledge, client focus and pro-active client service.

Ours is a structured system, but it remains flexible, able to react immediately to extraordinary market conditions. Also, our ongoing research and monitoring means that our holdings are chosen on the basis of their ability to perform well in any likely market conditions.

Portfolios

All our portfolios saw a positive return through Quarter 3, this is especially pleasing because the FTSE 100 has shown a net loss over the period. We have also seen an increase in volatility in markets with the S&P 500 falling over 7% in September, reflecting rising unpredictability in US markets and the popular technology sector in particular.

We have been pleased with the performance of all portfolios throughout the pandemic and we’re currently comfortable with our level of caution over short term market prospects. Our model portfolios are currently reflecting our defensive position, being overweight in cash and bonds and underweight in UK and overseas equities.

At Reeves, we discuss risk and your capacity to loss to determine what level of risk is appropriate to your temperament and circumstance. But, the fact remains that market ups and downs and risk are part of the investment process and always will be.


Reeves Independent place in FT Adviser Top 100 for 2nd year in a row.

We are absolutely delighted to announce, that for a second year running, Reeves Independent have placed in the FT Adviser Top 100 Advisers for 2020. This impressive accolade places us in the top 1% of Financial Advisers in the UK and we are so pleased to be recognised with this achievement.

Whilst 2020 has been strange and uncertain for all, we are bursting with pride to receive recognition of the hard work and dedication the Reeves Independent team has put in during such a difficult year.

In the financial sector, as in many others, it has been of the utmost importance to showcase a flexible and professional approach to the ever-changing landscape. Reeves Independent have adapted well to the new normal, continuing to offer the high level of exceptional service our clients expect, whilst guiding our clients through the uncertainty with trustworthy and sound financial advice.

Whilst 2020 has been challenging for all, I am proud of how adaptable the Reeves team have been, ensuring that we continue to offer the high level of service our clients expect from us, during a time of uncertainty..”

Nigel Reeves

The FT Adviser Top 100 list is a reflection of data compiled by their research partner Matrix Solutions, an ISS Market Intelligence company, using their Financial Clarity product to provide a snapshot of some of the very best advice companies working in the UK today.

This year, FT Adviser also wanted to reward those companies that are either chartered by the Chartered Insurance Institute or accredited by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.

We’re proud to boast a team of homegrown talent that we continue to invest in and will shortly be able to add the chartered accolade to our belts. Reeves Independent has grown organically, over the years to ensure that not only are we the specialists in what we do but we understand exactly what our clients need from us.  We invest significant resource into staff training and support to improve knowledge, qualifications and team capability and we’re looking forward to continuing to do so.

Nigel Reeves picking up last years award.

Nigel Reeves, owner, and founder of Reeves Independent, had the following words to say upon being named in the top 100 advice firms.

“We are delighted to be recognised as one of the top 100 advisers in the UK for the second year running by FT Adviser. Whilst 2020 has been challenging for all, I am proud of how adaptable the Reeves team have been, ensuring that we continue to offer the high level of service our clients expect from us, during a time of uncertainty. From remote working for some of our staff to introducing engaging and educational webinars for our clients, Reeves have been constantly thinking of new innovative ways to develop the way we work.

We have always taken pride in our high standards of client service and ensuring that we offer a bespoke service to match their individual needs. Being situated amongst international firms with thousands of advisers is a reminder of how far we have come. From humble beginnings, Reeves are now in the company of industry giants and we can confidently state that we have grown organically and remain the specialists in what we do. Although we may not be able to celebrate as we did last year, with an awards ceremony, we are thrilled to celebrate this news with you.”

The FT Adviser top 100 list situates us amongst industry giants, from international mega groups to banks with thousands of advisers on hand, which makes our placement even more rewarding. Reeves Independent are proud to say that we offer the same award-winning service of larger firms within the financial industry whilst being able to withhold our bespoke touch for each and every client.

Thanks to our staff for their continued dedication in delivering exceptional service to our Reeves clients, and to you, friends of Reeves Independent for letting us guide you in obtaining a brighter and more sustainable financial future.


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