It is that time of year again when the pundits clamour to deliver their predictions and the anti-pundits line up to proclaim their disdain for such utterances. So I will seize the opportunity to add to the largely pointless noise with some forecasts for our sector.
My first prediction is that markets will continue to move upwards, sideways or downwards. As such, clients will continue to require assistance with their portfolios, tax and other financial plans.
Secondly, it will be a huge year for dealing with new regulation. This will or will not lead to pressure points for product providers, which will or will not lead to withdrawals and closures of many funds, lengthening response times, staff departures and team shakeups, which will or will not impact clients if not carefully managed by advisers.
Thirdly, the finance pages of the nationals will continue to scream about market movements, with news about Brexit, President Trump, central banks, quantitative easing and so on either fazing clients or not.
Fourthly, on Brexit, the theatre of the negotiations will continue, leading us to a decent deal – or not. Financial services will be part of the deal via some bespoking or it will not.
Next, there will be a lot more consolidation across the sector as higher costs of operation and regulatory pressures bite. However, there may well also be a continuation of the trend of enterprising and innovative start-ups, which go some way to balancing this out.
The unpredictable drama of Trump will continue, leaving fund managers and markets striving to understand how to play the situation, or it will all be shrugged off, with them taking it all in their stride. Robo-advice will continue to flourish or it will stall thanks to the massive cost of client and assets acquisition.
Crypto currencies will march ever upwards in value, attracting more and more investors, or there will be some dramatic losses through hacking or fraud. The Conservatives will collapse under all the strain, or they will soldier on and survive.
I could go on but I hope I have made my point. While predictions on just about everything that is of interest to us as advisers and our clients make for light hearted reading, they do not massively contribute to the financial wellbeing of the public.
It is all about advisers continuing to deliver technically competent, ethical and disciplined advice to help clients. Keeping them on track and helping in the making of decisions to protect and grow their wealth is crucial.
I will close by wishing you all a very interesting, rewarding and Happy New Year.
Lee Robertson is chief executive of Investment Quorum