This Sunday April 9th a team of seven people from Harvest will be taking part in the 10k Great run in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. The team will be led by our Investment Director Terry Devitt who says that, in true military general style he will lead from behind. We are doing this in support of two amazing charities The Down Syndrome Centre which provides services-led centre for children with Down syndrome and their families and Fighting Words who provides free tutoring and mentoring in creative writing to children.
All contributions will be very welcome from €5 upwwards- Click Here
The Down Syndrome Centre was founded by Peter Gaw and his wife, Mary as a result of their frustration at not being able to access relevant services for their two youngest children, both of whom have Down syndrome.
The charity had been around for a few years and, in October 2014, were finally able to open the doors to Ireland’s first (and only) services-led centre for children with Down syndrome and their families.
Fighting Words provides free tutoring and mentoring in creative writing and related arts to as many children, young adults and adults with special needs as we can reach. Fighting Words programmes and workshops are delivered mainly by volunteer writing tutors. Fighting Words workshops are created and run by volunteers, including professional writers – novelists, screen-writers, journalists, poets – aspiring writers and students.
Fighting Words helps students of all ages to develop their writing skills and to explore their love of writing. 94% of Fighting Words funding comes from private individuals and institutions and was was established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love. Inspired by 826 National in the United States, Fighting Words is located on Behan Square, Russell Street, Dublin 1.
The bullish start to the year has clearly slowed in recent weeks and a marked tone of uncertainty is a growing influence on market direction currently. Bond markets have fluctuated somewhat over the first quarter as interest rate expectations have waxed and waned but were flat for the quarter as a whole. The strong early part of the quarter allowed the funds on our Recommended List to rise by almost 5% (in euro terms) on average over the three months.
The major factors weighing on markets are unchanged from three months ago – Brexit, the political landscape in Europe, political change in China and the outlook for growth in the US are all likely to be significant influences on how equity markets perform this year. We continue to hold the view that 2017 will most likely be a volatile year – the risk of a substantial correction in equity markets, while still less than 50% in our view, has not abated.
Although faltering a little at the end of the period, the first three months of the year were positive for equities and equity markets across the world benefited from the positive sentiment generally. Japan, which finished the quarter unchanged, was the sole exception among developed country markets. Emerging markets in contrast, rose strongly in line with investor confidence and on average grew by strong double digits (growth prospects in the Far East and economic recovery in Latin America). Currencies were less of an issue than had been the case in 2016 – in Euro terms, the dollar and Sterling moved only marginally. Performance data for the major markets is shown below:
Q1 2017 Full Year 2016
US +6.3%* +11.2%*
UK +4.3%* +19.1%*
Europe +6.4%* +3.1%*
Japan -0.4%* +0.4%*
Ireland +2.0%* -4.1%*
China +10.2%* +2.8%*
* Source: Financial Express Analytics
As markets continue to rise, we cannot discount the risk of a market correction. However, there seems little doubt that the economic backdrop is generally on an upward tack so that any correction could bounce back relatively quickly and could well represent a good buying opportunity. So while we are advocating caution in relation to increases in equity exposures, we are not advising clients to reduce unless their exposures to equities are excessive. We prefer equity funds with a focus on income as they are likely to be less volatile should markets get bumpy. Longer term, we are also very positive on emerging markets and believe most investors should discuss having at least some small exposure to those regions with their advisor. Our longer term view on equities generally remains very positive.
The decision by the US Federal Reserve to commence a phase of interest rate increases in 2016 was a clear signal that the bond markets were finally turning. However, on the evidence so far, nothing dramatic would appear to be on the cards for quite some time yet and we do not expect to see a whole lot in terms of interest changes in 2017. But economic news on both sides of the Atlantic has grown more positive of late and if there is evidence of emerging inflation, the interest rate cycle could accelerate upwards in 2018. On the other side of the coin, however, we have the prospect of Trump inspired trade wars, political unrest in Europe and Brexit, any or all of which could have a marked dampening effect on global economies.
Overall we are sticking to the view we have held for some time now that the mainstream bond market offers little value for investors currently. We do however continue to see some value in particular niches such as Emerging Market bonds and some of the specialist credit markets.
We held a recent client seminar on opportunities in the property market and judging by the level of interest in the event and in the lively discussion which followed the formal presentations, property as an investment opportunity is as attractive as it has ever been for Irish pension funds and private investors. As a house, we remain fans of property on a 3-5 year view and we see it as a core asset in most portfolios. Income can be a great compensation in volatile times and property is still one of the best sources of reliable income available. Investors need to be cautious about geared investments, as the next couple of years could see banks coming under balance sheet pressure and looking to force asset disposals in some cases. The domestic market still looks to offer good value but the same underlying value arguments apply to many international property markets also. Problems around liquidity and diversification must always be taken into account when investing in property but need not be a serious concern for longer term investors. In addition there is now a wide range of stock market listed real estate investment trusts offering exposure to diversified real estate assets combined with good liquidity.
After a volatile second half of 2016, currency markets were much more stable in the first three months of 2017. Forecasters still expect a strengthening dollar for the remainder of this year and a relatively weak euro. Sterling could be the most volatile of the major currencies, buffeted by economic news and progress with Brexit negotiations.
Gold and Oil
Having risen by 9%* in dollar terms during 2016, the uncertainty in the markets continued to provide strong support for gold, which rose by a further 8% in the first quarter, again in dollar terms. We would reiterate our view that a small exposure to gold in your portfolio is worth considering. Optimism about the OPEC agreement in November waned over recent months and the oil price has fallen by around 7% since the start of the year to its current level of $53 per barrel. Given the current global supply demand picture, we do not expect any change in the recent pattern over the coming months.
* Source: Financial Express Analytics
As mentioned, inflation is unlikely to be a factor in markets during the current year but could well emerge as a significant topic in 2018.
As always, you should only consider the investment views contained in this update in the context of your own attitude to risk and how such choices might impact your Asset Allocation model. Should you have any queries in relation to your investment portfolio, please contact us on 01 2375500.
|Warning: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance.
|This material is not intended to provide advice and is provided for general information purposes only.
Investing in Property
Property is arguably a more complex investment in comparison with most other asset classes for reasons of regulation, low liquidity, the requirement for management and the legalities around leases, ownership, etc. Harvest hosted a seminar for investors interested in Property as an Asset Class in the RDS this week.
During the seminar Marian Finnegan – Chief Economist, Director of Research, Cushman & Wakefield Sherry FitzGerald, gave a market update and an assessment of the prospects for the sector in 2017 and beyond.
Terry Devitt – Investment Director in Harvest Financial Services Limited looked at the various ways of investing in property through Funds, REITS, Development Projects and Direct Property. Terry highlighted the tax efficiencies of using your pension to access this asset class.
Harvest Financial – Property Conference – 29th March 2017
Harvest Financial Services are delighted to be shortlisted for this years LPI Awards in the following categories.
Best Life & Pensions Broker
Best Investment Broker
Best Corporate Financial Planning Firm
The Irish Brokers Association Life, Pensions and Investments Awards for Financial Brokers aim to ensure that those at the forefront of the profession are identified and commended for their efforts.
Why Choose Harvest Financial for Retirement Planning?
Apart from winning the award from the Best Pension Broker/Independent Pension Broker of the year for the last 2 years running at the Irish Pension Awards, there are plenty of reasons to choose Harvest for your retirement planning. These include: ….
- Independent Financial Advisory Firm, 100% Irish owned and managed with no ties to major banks or institutions. We are firmly in our clients corner.
- Transparency – we charge fees which are fully disclosed to clients. There are no exit penalties if clients wish to transfer the fund at a later stage.
- Cost Effective – more competitive than traditional insurance company pension structure.
- Security – assets are held in trust on client’s behalf – they are not held on Harvest’s balance sheet.
- Dedicated Client Manager – A dedicated Harvest client manager is appointed to handle each portfolio.
- Highly Regulated – Harvest is one of the most highly regulated independent financial services companies in Ireland.
- 50 + highly qualified staff,
- Registered Administrator to c. 900 pension schemes.
- QFM to c. 250 Approved Retirement Funds.
- Approx. €900 million under administration.
- Process-driven services built around specialised bespoke I.T. infra-structure.
- Founding Members of Association of Pensioneer Trustees of Ireland and members of the Irish Association of Pension Funds.
Whether you want investment flexibility and cost transparency, HFS will work with you to maximize your income in retirement. For more information, or to arrange a meeting to discuss your retirement provision needs, please contact us on 01 2375500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The potential of the Trump effect for the US economy continues to be the major influence on market direction at the moment. In the background, however, the perceived risks including Brexit, China, sovereign debt concerns (Italy, Greece) and geopolitical worries have not gone away. The impending French election can be added to this list as a victory by Marine Le Pen would be seen as a threat to the future of the EU and the Eurozone. Despite these factors, the market bulls are winning at the moment and the greater likelihood is that markets will continue to move upwards over the short term.
That said, as the market rises further, so does the risk of a market correction. We continue to hold the view that such a correction is very possible over the coming months (the probability we are currently attaching to this outcome is 30% and rising). On the other hand, our sense is still that such a correction could be shortlived and that markets could recover quickly.
So while we are advocating caution in relation to increases in equity exposures, we are not advising clients to reduce. We prefer equity funds with a focus on income as they are likely to be less volatile should markets get bumpy. Longer term, we are also very positive on emerging markets and believe all investors should have at least some small exposure to those regions. Our longer term view on equities generally remains very positive.
We remain very unexcited by bonds, with exception of one or two specialist niches, but positive on property which we see as both a source of reliable income and longer term capital growth.
Specialist Fund Focus – GAM MBS Total Return
As interest rates have plummeted across the world, the wisdom of holding long term cash deposits for savings or pension purposes has come into serious question. We have effectively reached a point now in the developed world where holding cash deposits has become a guaranteed way to lose money as the purchasing power of that cash ebbs away over time.
Despite the strong case for holding equities and property, many clients remain uncomfortable with having large exposures to these assets. At Harvest, we fully appreciate this way of thinking and realise that there is a substantial and genuine appetite for investments which, while not completely risk-free, will deliver steady returns over time without the kind of market shocks which happen every cycle with the major risk assets.
In our view the GAM MBS Total Return Fund, which invests principally in US mortgage backed securities, is just such a fund. It does not hold out the prospect of spectacular returns but has a long track record of low volatility and we see it as a suitable alternative for long term cash deposits. Some key statistics on the fund are as follows:
||3 yr Volatility
||5 Yr Avg Annual Return
||Worst Negative Month
||Best Positive Month
|*GAM Star MBS Total Return
* Source: GAM & Financial Express Analytics – 20 February 2017
We do not see the historic 5 year return being matched over the next 5 years but the fund should comfortably beat cash while continuing to deliver low volatility.
As always, you should only consider the investment views contained in this newsletter in the context of your own attitude to risk and how such choices might impact your Asset Allocation model. Should you have any queries in relation to your investment portfolio, please contact us on 01 2375500.