What advisers are telling clients in latest market turmoil

The sharp falls engulfing global equity markets in recent days may have caused concern among investors, leaving advisers to contain the panic.

The FTSE 100 was down 7.7% yesterday, but opened 1 per cent higher this morning, while the FTSE 250 was down 18.7 per cent in the last month.

The Dow Jones Index of US shares is down 18.5 per cent in the past month, and the Nikkei index in Japan is down 16.9 per cent over the past month.

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Alan Steel, chairman of Alan Steel Asset Management in Linlithgow, said he reassures his clients not to panic.

He said: “Having been through four [market crashes] since 1973, that’s why we built your portfolios with [defensive as well as aggressive assets] to protect you. And remind them that when utter and senseless panic is in the air, not to join in.

“The worst investment decisions, buying and selling are made when the inmates are temporarily running the asylum. Sit tight, and if you’ve got spare cash, drip it in monthly.”  

Similarly Philip Milton, who acts as both a financial adviser and a discretionary fund manager at PJ Milton and Co in Devon, has emailed all of his clients, asking them if they can defer withdrawing money “to ensure they do not take funds at a dangerous moment”.

He also wrote: “If you do force sales in the face of a market which is not enthusiastic to buy from you, you will sell holdings at lower prices than they should be valued and which you deserve. 

“Sometimes even the sale of a stock can be enough to push prices down more, as the good and the bad face the same reluctance from buyers to do much other than sit on hands. 

“Market makers are happier pushing prices lower even if in some holdings there is little activity.”

But Francis Klonowski, who runs advice firm Klonowski and Co in Leeds, said none of his clients have been in touch with him regarding the current market falls.

He added: “I don’t know if that is a function of what we always say to people, which is that we invest for the long-term. And to be honest, if someone did have any questions about the short-term I am not sure what I could tell them.

“I think if someone wants to exit the market because of current events, they probably shouldn’t have been investing anyway. One client came for a meeting this morning, and I showed him a graph showing the performance of his portfolio  since December, and the client just shrugged, he knew what these movements are.” 

For me, I would reinforce all that’s been said above. Until you actually encash something, you have lost out except on paper. Experience tells me that markets will bounce back. When I don’t know but I am sure they will.

Remember that in 1972, the FTSE 100 stood at around 460 and by 1974 it was around 340! As I write, the market stood at 6200.

Nevertheless, the last few days have been rather bruising. In peak to trough terms the sell off in the equity markets has not been all that impressive by historical measures but the speed and ferocity certainly has.

It is my belief that this has magnified the panic because the market doesn’t like uncertainty, and we have that by the bucket load right now.