The UK voting to leave the European Union and a reality TV star elected as US president are only the two most extraordinary headlines of an extraordinary year - but how confident are advisers feeling about the year ahead? We asked three for their thoughts
What a difference 12 months makes. With the prospect of Brexit and a Donald Trump presidency now pretty much overshadowing all other macroeconomic issues, it is odd to think the major market concerns at the start of the year were the outlook for commodity prices, China and other emerging economies.
At the same time, advisers have had to contend with regulatory issues ranging from the Financial Advice Market Review to the FCA's Asset Management Market Study; from discussion about revamping the FSCS levy to a new Chancellor and a new timetable for future Budegetary pronouncements.
With so much to occupy their minds - in addition, of course, to the small matters of looking after clients and running their businesses - Professional Adviser asked three advisers how optimistic they are feeling about the coming year.
‘Disparity between investments, economics and politics'
Investing Ethically IFA Phil Cockrell: "From our point of view, it could be a lot worse. It looks like we're going to start the year in reasonably good shape and there will be opportunities from the Brexit negotiations so I don't think investors should panic about what is going on.
"This year has proved that, really - markets quickly recovered from the Brexit vote and they have shrugged off the election of Donald Trump. I think there is a disparity between what investments are doing and what the economy and politicians are saying.
"We are quite bullish really - I think we are going to start the New Year with markets at a good level and, as a business, our focus is going to be on trying to improve our service to clients. As a company we are going through a rebrand so we have various things coming out in the New Year we are looking to push.
"There is likely to be greater scrutiny on fees next year so, from a client perspective, if not from an investment house perspective, there is likely to be pressure on costs, and that may filter through to what we pay as investors. Pension freedom is also offering exciting opportunities - people's need for income is not diminished so anything out there that is a bit creative is going to be attractive. I guess you could say we are quietly optimistic."
‘It is going to be a year of change'
Derbyshire Booth managing director Greg Heath: "2016 has certainly been an interesting year and I think the investment markets are going to be very interesting in 2017 too - there are a lot of changes coming. You only have to look at some of Trump's announcements - love him or hate him, there is no doubt he's shaking things up.
"And whenever you shake up the status quo, it is where the cards fall in the future that determine what investment opportunities open up. I would say I am optimistic - I wouldn't have said so six months ago, but I think it is going to be a big year of change across the EU and America.
"I am also hoping the regulators sort out the debacle over defined benefit schemes and the over-regulation that exists in terms of somebody wanting to transfer out. The adviser community is wrapped up in knots because, while George Osborne may have said you can treat your pension like a bank account, the regulator clearly doesn't see it that way.
"I would like to see changes there - I'd like to see them loosen up and take a more realistic and proactive approach because, on a weekly basis, we are turning away clients who want to access their pension funds if there is any risk to our business - as are other advisers."
‘A year of normality? No, something will crop up'
Quainton Hills Financial Planning director Gordon Bowden: "Well, at least there are no referendums on the horizon in 2017. 2016 has just been ridiculous in terms of the referendum and the US election so it would be nice to have a year of normality.
"Not that that will happen, of course - something will crop up. Still, I am quite happy with investments at the moment and reasonably optimistic about mainstream, western markets.
"It would also be nice to think the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the professional indemnity insurance industry could all talk to each other next year and come up with a cohesive strategy."
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