This year has been all about product as Peps came to an end, Isas started, Cats emerged, Oeic launch...
This year has been all about product as Peps came to an end, Isas started, Cats emerged, Oeic launches continued to gather pace and investment trusts staged the beginnings of a rebound. This is what happened in the retail investment market alone. Elsewhere there have been stakeholder-friendly pensions, the development of stakeholder itself, PPI and now the ABI's attempt to provide a quality mark for investment products.
With all this emphasis on tax wrappers and product structures the importance of investment performance has sometimes been ignored. Looking forward anything between one year and five it is going to be fund manager performance above anything else that will satisfy or disappoint client expectations.
There has been plenty happening in the world markets which is food for thought for investment professionals and little of it could have been predicted at the start of 1999. If anything it proves the point that there is little to gain from trying to guess markets over a short period or investing on the basis of a fad.
The past 12 months have continued to see the US market performing strongly and many of the factors that have driven it higher are being exported elsewhere. Fund managers from the UK to emerging markets are singing the praises of technology and e-commerce and desperately trying to increase their weightings to these areas.
The Japanese market has finally bounced and the consensus is this really is the start of the recovery after a succession of false dawns from the land of the rising sun and falling index. Emerging markets too have staged a comeback following the collapse in 1997. By contrast the star of the final Pep season, Europe, has been surprisingly quiet while its new currency has headed south and behaved more like the pre-Emu convergence lira than the Deutschmark.
The UK market, which was somewhat unfashionable as a parking place for money in the first quarter, has broadened out with the All-Share producing a respectable 16% return year to date as small and mid caps regained some of the ground they had lost to the FTSE 100 in recent years. Finally, bonds had a quiet year after a strong 1998 which saw them producing large capital returns rather than providing high yields.
Assuming the world is not wiped out by the millennium bug, the pre-end of tax year Isa season is almost upon us and with it attendant asset allocation decisions. Investment Week wishes you the best of luck with these as with every other aspect of your business for 2000. And not forgetting the rest of December - happy Christmas.
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