McHardy Financial Update - 5th May 2020
During these turbulent times we have seen great acts of kindness, selfless and courageous behaviour. Unfortunately times like these can also increase opportunities for fraud with a higher degree of vulnerability and of course, us all spending more time in and around our homes. I felt it would be wise to give you some of the instances of fraud to be aware of during this pandemic:
Financial Scams: Phishing (mass emails generated to illicit responses by individuals) have increased in number and are often using Coronavirus as a subject to garner attention. ‘Free School Meal’ asking for bank details to receive them or HMRC offering a lump sum to support individuals at this time. It should be noted HMRC will never text, phone or email and ask for bank details.
Doorstepping: Often to those most vulnerable, fraudsters are offering to provide a ‘health and safety’ check of the property, essentially gaining access to the property and demanding money. We all need to look out for our vulnerable neighbours and family.
Health Scams: These range from fake advertisements for face masks, hand sanitiser and even vaccines. Social Media outlets have tried to restrict these however there have still been instances recently of UK consumers being stung by these.
Other current scams are fake charities (often impersonating real ones) asking for donations and fake emails asking for updated payment details for streaming services.
Whilst you may feel it unlikely you are susceptible to such scams it is certainly worthwhile checking with those most vulnerable. If those that are the targets of fraud, especially in these times, had the opportunity to check with a trusted individual of the validity of what they are being offered then it may well avoid them becoming a victim.
I have put together a brief outline of the most recent developments in global markets as well as economic conditions:
April saw the strongest month for global stocks since 2011, driven primarily by the US. The first couple of trading days in May, however, have seen stocks fall back.
Volumes of market movements, and often returns, tend to slow over summer months where holidays are taken and transactions significantly decrease (‘sell in May and go away’ is the old adage), of course, this year it is unlikely many will be able to ‘go away’.
The US Congressional Office is still expecting a sharp recovery in the second half of 2020, followed by a slower recovery in 2021. Of course a huge amount of any prediction on recoveries will depend on how case numbers respond to the easing of the lockdown.
Yesterday the UK Government launched the ‘Bounce-back Loans’ to help small businesses bridge the gap in their finances caused by Coronavirus. These have been made simple to apply for (certainly easier than the Business Interruption Loan Scheme), capped at £50,000 or 25% of turnover whichever is lower, payable over six years and 100% backed by the UK Government. With no interest or fees charged in the first twelve months and interest of 2.5% per annum thereafter, it is an attractive offering to those small businesses that need the support. The money is expected to land in approved applicants within days.
The conflict between the interests of shareholders in the UK and those of employees has been eased greatly by the government’s Job Retention Scheme but will be similarly stretched with the anticipated end of that scheme in June. Rishi Sunak has made various comments about how he “will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery” and that there might be “gradual refinements” to the removal of the economic interventions but at the same time that “future decisions on the scheme will take into account…the responsible management of the public finances”. An extension of the existing scheme by an extra month could lead to an additional £14bn being spent.
There are currently around 100 global programs looking at treatments and vaccines for the Virus with a Vaccine moving to the top of the priority list for the White House according to leaks late last week. An election in November may focus minds and goals in the US.
Remdesivir is an Ebola drug which Gilead are looking to repurpose for treating covid patients. The virus develops by replicating within cells, before emerging and triggering the immune response which effectively causes the symptoms that we think of as the disease. Remdesivir may prevent the replication, which would be great, but the trials so far have only found efficacy in early stage patients i.e. before they become serious cases. The problem with this is that it is hard to produce, and delivered intravenously, so it is unlikely to be practical to deliver it to everyone who shows symptoms. So it may be useful for treating vulnerable patients or even healthcare workers but it seems unlikely to provide the economically significant game changer which we are hoping the pharmaceutical industry will produce.
If you have any questions about the current market conditions and how they may affect your financial circumstances and arrangements please do not hesitate to contact your adviser.
I hope you stay safe and well,
Chartered Financial Planner
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