James Edgedale, Chairman
You will notice a Hampshire theme running through this edition of our client magazine, which is in celebration of the opening of our latest regional office in Winchester. Opened officially in September, we have five investment managers based there looking after nearly £700m of client assets, adding to our four other regional offices in Bristol, Bury St Edmunds, Leeds and Cardiff.
This latest addition to our branch network demonstrates our commitment to serving our clients to the best of our abilities and growing our reach as we look to help clients on more complicated financial matters such as pension planning, estate planning and inheritance tax mitigation. We are increasingly seeing a need for wealth planning led strategies and enhancing our regional presence will help us get closer to our client's network of trusted advisers. More detail about the new office can be found in the news section.
I am also delighted to announce a new sponsorship that we have participated in. The Affordable Art Fair is celebrating their 20th anniversary in October and we are excited to partner with them for their Autumn fair in Battersea, London. With over 100 galleries exhibiting contemporary works we hope to continue our association with the arts and build on the mission to make contemporary arts accessible to everyone. Information about how to get tickets can be found on page 21.
Turning to markets, we’ve seen a hesitant UK market over the last year showing a modest return but the only reasonable returns have come out of the United States, dominated by half a dozen technology companies. Many readers will be aware of the economic trends which are causing market uncertainty but the main issues have been the US/China trade war, a slowdown in economies on both sides of the Atlantic and resultant effect that can have on emerging markets, a slowdown in China as a result of the trade war and worries about Brexit in this country.
In the UK we obviously have significant political concerns with regard to Brexit, which has led to the valuation of domestically rated companies to be significantly below international companies. One could say that many international companies are more than fully valued at this point and many of these remain core holdings in clients’ portfolios, such as Diageo and Unilever. In recent months, we have seen a significant number of takeover bids by American and Far Eastern companies of asset backed British situations, taking advantage of the high levels of their currencies compared to the Pound.
I suspect this will continue whilst British assets remain so cheap and my belief is, once Brexit is out of the way, if the political situation has calmed down and we do not get an extreme, unexpected shock, a flood of money could come back to the UK, particularly investing in domestic assets, whether it be commercial property, residential property or companies orientated towards the United Kingdom.