Election uncertainty…

What happens next?

I stayed up until the early hours watching events unfold and listening to commentators who were struggling to believe the results of the exit poll conducted by a consortium of the BBC, Sky and ITV.  Whilst it proved to be very accurate, pre-election polls where unhelpful in predicting the results, as has been the case in recent election results.

The election result has undoubtedly been influenced by the results of the Brexit referendum and people’s desire for a softer exit than that proposed by Theresa May in her “no deal is better than any deal” approach.

The defeat is highly embarrassing for Theresa May.  How long she remains as party leader will be seen in coming weeks and months.  However, there is no doubt that her dictatorial approach did not sit well with voters (or indeed many of her MPs).   It is highly likely the approach to Brexit will now need to change.  Those negotiating from a European perspective will know that the Conservatives do not have a mandate and this is likely to cause challenges.  However, the positive outlook is that it could become more of a win/win negotiation than a zero sum game.

Jeremy Corbyn ran a good campaign.  It looks as though Labour benefited from the desertion of UKIP voters towards those who were willing to take a more conciliatory approach to Brexit negotiations.  Similarly, Labour also appear to have benefited from the surge in young voters and indeed voting percentages in many of the constituencies were respectably high.

Never-the-less, last night’s result, along with the wider political landscape and recent terrorist activity, all create an air of uncertainty; something which humans and markets dislike intensely.  That said, although Sterling fell overnight, it was not by as much as expected by some pundits, although there is still a long way to go.

So what could all of this mean?  Some commentators are suggesting that a hung parliament would mean a consistently weaker Sterling which in turn means higher prices for UK consumers and a corresponding impact on retail sales.  On the other hand, this does mean that internationally biased investments, which many of our clients hold through their investment portfolios,  are worth more.

The significant losses experienced by the SNP and the corresponding move to the Scottish Conservatives (and Labour), also indicates the lack of appetite in Scotland for a further Independence referendum.  This in turn suggests a stronger United Kingdom which ought to be viewed positively and has to be better for the economy as a whole.

Much will happen in coming days and months but as we have said before, the sun still rose this morning and we will all go about our business as usual.

We have talked before about our three key principles and it is worth reiterating those again:

Have faith in the future –There will always be some crisis or other around the world that impacts on markets, but if we believe they are broadly efficient and capitalism works, then the long term trend is upwards.

Have patience – Have a plan and work it patiently for your lifetime and if appropriate, the next generation.  None of us are in this for the short term.

Discipline – Avoid doing the WRONG thing.  At times like this it is easy to be caught up in the broader sentiment.

Uncertainty presents opportunities and we will continue to work with you to make sure your plan stays on course whatever happens in the short term.

Keep calm and carry on.

After the election…

The past seven weeks have been torrid and not just in a political sense.  An election which was originally intended to be about Brexit, has morphed into something altogether different, with issues around National Security, Social Care and the funding of the NHS coming to the forefront; and Brexit very much taking a back seat.

Later tonight we should (hopefully) have a clear idea about who will be leading the UK out of Europe and into a new era over the next 5 years.  In the meantime, we all know that, whoever is in power this time tomorrow and once the dust settles, the sun will rise, we will all continue about our business and the business of government will continue.  So what can we expect to affect us in a practical sense over coming months?

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. However, when it comes to general elections, there is plenty of history to suggest that tax increases are more likely in the first Budget to occur after the polls have closed. From a politician’s viewpoint, it makes sense to deliver the medicine immediately, as that leaves the longest gap before the next election. For example, it was in the summer Budget after the May 2015 election that the new dividend tax rules, reduced tax relief on buy-to-let properties and 3.5% increase in insurance premium tax were announced.

In the post-election environment, whoever ends up as Chancellor will be presenting a new Finance Bill, probably in July. There is a raft of measures to reinstate because so many were dropped from the March Finance Bill in the rush to get it passed before parliament shut down. When reviving the spring Budget, the Chancellor will almost inevitably wish to add some new tax legislation based on what was (or, as important, was not) stated in their party’s manifesto.

Changes which were not originally in March’s Finance Bill are unlikely to take full effect before the start of the next tax year (2018/19), but even so there may be some “anti-forestalling” measures that bite immediately. One area which looks ripe for a further attack is tax relief on pension contributions. You may recall that the tapering of the annual allowance for high earners was announced in the July 2015 post-election Budget.

If you are contemplating large pension contributions in this tax year, it could be a wise precaution to make them before the new government’s first Budget.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax laws can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.