As we begin the start of a New Year, few of us are looking back at 2020 with much fondness.
2020 meant Covid – which meant lockdown, health and business worries and isolation from friends and family. There were financial, as well as health impacts. Whole sectors – including travel and hospitality – shut down, and some businesses will never reopen. Jobs have been lost, financial plans put on hold, and crisis in the financial markets threatened the value of pension plans and investment portfolios.
But what about the year to come? At Continuum we don’t have a crystal ball, but we do see some very positive signs for 2021.
Brexit is a done deal
The closing days of 2020 saw what might be one of the biggest surprises of a year that was already confounding all predictions. A Brexit deal apparently pulled out of a hat at the last possible minute meant that the UK avoided the disruption of trade tariffs with Europe.
There may be some teething troubles, but trade with Europe can continue without too much of a hitch, while being outside the EU should mean some profitable new opportunities.
Certainly, the markets seemed to think so, and the FTSE100 and 250 both started the new year boosted by the news. It could be time to look again at investing in UK businesses set to benefit from the new confidence offered by a Brexit deal.
Vaccines are here
But even more important than Brexit is the delivery of COVID vaccines to finally stem the tide of the pandemic. The timeline for the rollout sounded ambitious, given the daunting logistics of distributing two-dose vaccines that require extremely low temperatures. But with simpler and cheaper vaccines now being approved, the timeline may be shortened.
We may still have lockdowns to cope for the first few months of the year, but when between 50% and 70% of the population is vaccinated, masks may no longer be needed, we may no longer have to avoid other people, and life might just start to get back to something other than a state of emergency.
Again, financial markets were boosted by the news earlier in the week.
What may change?
But 2021 may not mean a return to normality. Lockdown may have accelerated developments that might have taken decades to become mainstream.
Cash is no longer king. Partly because of a fear of contagion, many more people are using cards and phones to pay.
The high street has been dealt a major blow, but online shops – Amazon, Farfetch – are growing as never before. Online retail and home delivery businesses may be new investment opportunities as the market recovery gathers pace.
On the international stage, a new US President may be more supportive of international trade and ease tensions. The Tokyo Olympics may focus eyes on Japan – and global commerce could be poised to recover.
No more 9 to 5?
Even a daily journey to work and back again may no longer be part of 2021. Remote working has been possible for some time, although it took lockdown for many of us to discover the advantages of working from home. For some spending more time with the family has been a reminder that work is not the main thing in life.
We may not want to go back to the old routine.
A fresh look at financial goals, at early retirement or at the financial protection we provide for our families may all be important resolutions for your new year.
If 2021 will mean new financial plans for you, at Continuum we are ready to help make the financial arrangements which will turn those plans into reality.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable Protection products or investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested.