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Concentration Risk: UK Investors Display Strong ‘Home Bias’, Finds New Schwab Survey

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CONCENTRATION RISK: UK INVESTORS DISPLAY STRONG ‘HOME BIAS’, FINDS NEW SCHWAB SURVEY

Lack of portfolio diversification means investors are missing out on potential returns 

Despite concerns over the short-term impact of Brexit on their portfolios, UK investors’ assets are heavily weighted towards the UK market.

New research from Charles Schwab shows that UK investors are put off investing in other markets such as the US due to risks arising from geopolitical tensions. UK investors are also hesitant to invest in equities due to perceived risk and volatility and a nervousness around the complexity of the asset-class.

Schwab’s poll of 201 UK investors with a minimum of £25,000 in disposable assets found that 74% are looking to invest the majority of their assets in their home market. Only 7% are looking to make significant investment into the US. The fact that nearly one in ten investors did not know or were unsure of their favoured markets demonstrates how little investors are considering foreign equities compared to their own.

When asked why they were attracted to investing in their home-market, a significant proportion of investors(48%) said that they feel most informed about companies in their own market and 39% feel that they understand the dynamics of their domestic economy better than others. As further confirmation of the ‘Home Bias’ issue, nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents agree that there is long-term value in investing in the UK market, compared to 56% who say there is long- term value investing in the US-market.

Kully Samra, Vice President of Charles Schwab, said:

“UK investors have a strong tendency towards Home Bias and are clearly more comfortable allocating money to economies and stocks with which they are immediately familiar, even if the data suggests there may be better returns elsewhere. The US stock market is a prime example: the S & P 500 has by far outperformed the FTSE100 over the last few years, so this UK favouritism demonstrates how UK investors are actually weakening their portfolios and cutting themselves off from potentially superior returns.”

Stock Market Positivity Abounds, Despite Brexit

 The study reveals that many investors (72%) believe that the medium-term outlook for the global stock market is looking bright. The home bias is evident here too, with investors believing that the UK market will perform strongest over the next year, followed by Europe and finally the US.

Not only is there a general bullishness around UK stock-market performance, but 57% of investors think that Brexit will have along term positive impact on UK equities. The overall sense of positivity around UK equities is tempered to some extent in the short term by the likely market turbulence that will accompany Brexit. Investors appear to be aware that the lack of legal certainty around the so-called “divorce deal”, and the opaque nature of the future UK-EU trading relationship, is likely to lead to some short-term shocks for the UK economy; 59% say that Brexit has made them consider diversifying their portfolio away from UK-stocks.

This sentiment reflects an events-driven reaction – the desire to diversify outside of UK shares in order to avoid Brexit-related uncertainty and consequent volatility–rather than as part of a considered long-term diversification strategy.

Scepticism Trumps Diversification

 While UK investors clearly have some desire to diversify their portfolios beyond their home shores, political tensions in the USA have resulted in UK investors shying away from this market. 60% of respondents say that the political situation in Washington puts them off investing in the US market, with a further 58% and 55% detracted from US investing due to geopolitical tensions and high valuations respectively.

Scepticism and lack of knowledge is also putting these individuals off stocks and shares. The majority of investors (73%) say that there is atleast one thing which puts them off investing inequities, with 32% thinking that the asset class carries too much risk and 22% of the view that equities are too confusing.

Kully Samra adds:

“Macroeconomic and geopolitical events have no doubt given stock markets some jitters over the past six months, but headlines can often be a distraction from the fundamental investment cases. US equities should be considered a key component of any balanced portfolio. The US remains the most established, liquid, and capitalised market in the world. The underlying economy is strong; unemployment is low, a tight labour market is leading to accelerating wage growth, corporate earnings are surpassing expectations and both productivity and sentiment indices are looking positive. Whilst political sabre-rattling can spook investors, we believe that economics and markets have had a larger impact on politics than the other way round.

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Investment Roundtable: Live with Jim Bianco

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With Q4’s macro picture still looking grim amid the return of exponential coronavirus waves in Europe and the U.S. and Europe, we speak with veteran macroanalysis strategist Jim Bianco, CMT for a data-driven deep-dive into the global economy and financial markets on Sept. 7th at 12pm EDT.

Sign up for this exclusive webinar now

Key themes:

  • Learn from Jim’s unique combination of quantitative and qualitative analytics which provide an objective view on Rates, Currencies and Commodities to make smart investment decisions
  • Identify important intermarket relationships he is watching with respect to Global Equities
  • Roadmap a global outlook for 2021 in view of socio-political backdrop giving viewers key takeaways and intermarket perspectives on global investing.

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Jim’s robust technical analysis includes a broad look at trends and themes in the markets, market internals, positioning such as the Commitment of Traders (COT), sentiment, and fund flows. Don’t miss out on this exclusive session from one of the investment world’s most insightful thought leaders.

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Equity markets react to a rise in Covid-19 cases, uncertain Brexit talks and the upcoming US election

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Equity markets react to a rise in Covid-19 cases, uncertain Brexit talks and the upcoming US election 1

By Rupert Thompson, Chief Investment Officer at Kingswood

Equity markets had another choppy week, falling for most of it before recovering some of their losses on Friday and posting further gains this morning.

At their low point last week, global equities were down some 7% from their high in early September. US equities were down close to 10%, hurt by the large weighting to the tech giants which at least initially led the market decline.

The market correction is nothing out of the ordinary with 5-10% declines surprisingly common. Indeed, a set-back was arguably overdue given the size and speed of the market rebound from the low in March.  As to the cause for the latest weakness, it is all too obvious – namely the second wave of infections being seen across the UK and much of Europe and the local lockdowns being imposed as a result.

These will inevitably take their toll on the economic recovery which was always set to slow significantly following an initial strong bounce. Indeed, business confidence fell back in September both here and in Europe with the declines led by the consumer-facing service sector. A further drop looks inevitable in October – fuelled no doubt in the UK by the prospect that the latest restrictions could be in place for as long as six months.

The job support package announced by Rishi Sunak did little to boost confidence. Its aim is to limit the surge in unemployment triggered by the end of the furlough scheme in October. However, the scheme is much less generous than the one it replaces as the government doesn’t want to continue subsidising jobs which are no longer viable longer term.  A rise in the unemployment rate to 8% or so later this year still looks quite likely.

Aside from Covid, for the UK at least, there is of course another major source of uncertainty – namely Brexit. Another round of trade talks start this week and we are rapidly reaching crunch time with a deal needing to be largely finalised by the end of October.

Whether we end up with one or not is still far from clear. That said, the prospects for a deal maybe look rather better than they did a couple of weeks ago when the Government was busy tearing up parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. With significant Covid restrictions quite probably still in place in the new year and the Government already under attack for incompetence, it may not wish to take the flack for inflicting yet more chaos onto the economy.

Markets remain unimpressed. UK equities underperformed their global counterparts by a further 2.7% last week, bringing the cumulative underperformance to an impressive 24% so far this year. The UK weighting in the global equity index has now shrunk to all of 4.0%.

It is not only the UK which faces a few weeks of uncertainty. The US elections are on 3 November. We also have the first of three Presidential debates this Tuesday. Joe Biden’s lead looks far from unassailable, a close result could be contentious and control of Congress is also up for grabs.

All said and done, equity markets look set for a choppy few weeks. Further out, however, we remain more positive – not least because the focus should hopefully switch from the roll-out of new lockdowns to the roll-out of a vaccine.

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What Investors are Looking for in the Next Fintech

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What Investors are Looking for in the Next Fintech 2

By Shaun Puckrin, Chief Product Officer, Global Processing Services

Are investors getting pickier when it comes to fintech? It’s hard to say for sure, but there are recent developments that point towards a shift in investor interests.

Firstly, research from Innovate Finance shows that investment in UK fintech dropped by 39% in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. In H1 2020, $1.8bn of venture capital was invested in 167 startups compared to H1 2019, when $3bn was invested in 263 startups.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the $1.8bn UK fintech investment earlier this year was still a 22% increase over the second half of 2019, when funding totalled $1.5bn. Therefore, all signs suggest that investors will make significant increases in capital investments during the rest of the year.

Secondly, it appears that the current investor appetite is for more mature, later-stage fintechs: more than half of the $1.8bn went to just five companies: Revolut, Checkout.com, Starling Bank, Onfido and Thought Machine. Perhaps it is the ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis that is prompting inventors towards perceived “safer bets”, but what we do know for a fact is that early-stage fintechs raised just 8% of the total investments.

Is there a silver lining? The coronavirus crisis has rapidly accelerated the digitisation of financial services, with lockdown restrictions encouraging those previously resistant to engage with digital financial services. The stage is set for fintechs to thrive and deliver offerings that meet shifting consumer demands. To be in with a shot of wooing investors, fintechs will need to demonstrate certain qualities that set them apart from other companies.

So, what are the four things investors are looking for in the next big fintech?

  1. A strong, differentiated proposition

The fintech marketplace is crowded and filled with mature innovators setting a high standard for everyone else. Against this backdrop, “challenging the incumbents” is, unfortunately, no longer a USP.

To really catch the attention of investors, you must be addressing a clear, pressing market need that no one else is tackling. Not just that, your proposition must be easily articulated and backed to the hilt with market research that proves the opportunity is worth pursuing.

Ultimately, investors are going to ask the question: why you? What are you doing that’s unique? What do you have that means you – and only you – can do this? They will also want to know how defendable that proposition is once you’ve built it.  What is your moat? Getting this right means a foot in the door with investors.

  1. A path to profitability or exit

This is an extremely pertinent point, especially given recent news surrounding the financial results for many of the big challenger banks, and how they show the route to profitability for challengers isn’t necessarily straightforward or easy.

In the current environment, an attractive fintech must be able to demonstrate a concrete, long-term plan for the financial viability of the business. There are different paths for investors to make their returns, be it a trade sale or IPO, but the fundamentals of securing a successful outcome are usually the same. By being able to demonstrate how you can plot a course to attract and serve your customers for less than you can monetise them will be at the route of any subsequent valuation, no matter how its outcome is achieved.

Whatever the goal, you need a plan to support your ambitions. You need to demonstrate an understanding that building a scalable and sustainable fintech is likely to require significant capital – you must invest in the right people, partners and technology to make money. Developing competitive services, attracting customers and, crucially, monetising your offerings, requires hard work and the ability to adapt to your customer’s needs.

  1. Strong leadership and core team

Ultimately, securing investment is about building relationships and what often tips the scales is having the right people in the room. This is why a great team is crucial.

A great team means many things: Strong leadership with the vision to build something revolutionary. The skills and expertise to turn that vision into reality. The experience to traverse the pitfalls and opportunities you’ll face. And finally, the ambition and determination to make the business successful no matter what.

Building the right team with the right qualities is often what convinces investors that they’re putting their money in the right place.

  1. The right partnerships

Partnering with the right organisations can give you strategic access to the solutions that will help build and scale your offering. Their expertise and experience are often invaluable; many partners have been in the game for years and may have already solved problems you might be encountering for the first time.

From an investor’s perspective, seeing that you’re working with credible partners and proven tech helps build confidence. It shows that you’re a less risky investment, and that you respect their investment and are going to be using their money to build real value.

Fintech investment is not dead

After this recent blip, we expect the amount of investment into fintech to continue to be significant, at least in relation to other industries. But there’s no avoiding the fact that investors will be looking to stress test potential investments much more than before.

By creating a differentiated proposition, planning a clear route to profitability, building a strong team, and finding the right partners, fintechs will be in with a shot of securing the funding they need to make their grand vision a reality.

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