After a year in the editor's chair, readers may be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at my monthly dis...
After a year in the editor's chair, readers may be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at my monthly displays of tireless optimism. After all, during that time international advisers have had to cope with a new tax regime that threatened to render offshore bonds - the cornerstone of many a financial planning strategy - unworkable; changes to the residence and domicile rules affecting both expat and non-dom clients; and now a global financial crisis that has the broadcast media in particular struggling to coin ever more doom-laden superlatives.
As I write, many developing markets are showing declines of more than two-thirds year-to-date, with the world's biggest markets down 40% or more. Argentina is on the brink of collapse; Iceland has nationalised pretty much its entire banking sector - and along with it the savings of millions of foreigners; Hungary is now practically owned by the IMF; and the Western world seems pretty much resigned to an economic recession.
The daily gyrations of some of the world's biggest (though now a lot smaller) stockmarket indices make for compelling watching, but what is really more important is to take a step back and a deep breath and focus on what lies on the other side of the valley.
As one fund management company's economist wrote in a recent briefing note, the world can only end once. Obviously it hasn't so far, and I would question whether even the most panicked seller really believes the game is up for the market economy. There is an awful lot of scaremongering and misinformation around making it even harder for advisers to steer the right course for their clients in these turbulent markets, but in that very problem lies an opportunity to add value in a real and meaningful way.
In spite of the CGT changes, most offshore life companies are reporting increased sales of their offshore bonds, and companies like The Hartford are even entering the market (see news, page 5). And while some fund companies may have postponed or mothballed fund launches, others continue to seek opportunities in new or distressed markets. Of course there is pain for some, but is the world really about to end? I wouldn't bet on it - but then who would pay out if it did?
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