Resilience is defined as: ‘the ability of people or things to recover quickly from difficulties.’
It would be hard to find anyone who feels that the last few months have not served up their fair share of difficulties. However, despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, an overarching sense of resilience has resonated with me, both at an investment level and when I look at society as a whole.
Like many others, I have used the adjustment in my day-to-day working practices to engage in a new pursuit when I would otherwise have been commuting. Dartmoor has proven the perfect backdrop for long-distance runs, affording me the chance to explore my local trails and learn more about the sport of ultra-marathon running.
Legends of the ultra-running world such as Jos Naylor, Billy Bland and Kílian Jornet are unlikely to be household names. However, their endeavours are no less awe-inspiring – and their ability to run distances mere mortals would hesitate to drive – provides a lesson in resilience for us all. When news about the virus’s trajectory started to grow more concerning, there was a significant market sell-off over a short period of time. Clients were understandably concerned by this rapid reversal in sentiment. As global supply chains were being shattered, investors were desperately trying to assess and quantify the scale of the economic hit from Covid-19.
Things are much calmer now. Since the March lows, global indices have rebounded strongly, buoyed by unprecedented support from central banks. Companies around the world have also swiftly adapted to the rapidly-changing consumer landscape that restrictions on movement had ushered in. Indeed, the Nasdaq, which features a number of US technology companies, has soared past its all-time highs following the initial market rout, as investors concluded there were huge opportunities available as global working practises adjust.
The majority of our clients have held their investments with us for a number of years. They understand that periods of short-term volatility are inevitable when investing with a longer time horizon. When ultra-marathon runners head out for a 100-mile run, they do so with the understanding that the likelihood of a twisted ankle, blister, or freak storm derailing their plans is far greater than if they were tackling their local fun run. They are perpetually bracing themselves for a moment where their resilience will be tested in order to reach the finish line. My experience to date is that our clients – and the highly-skilled professionals looking after their investments – are showing a great level of resilience amidst current market events.
Alongside managing client funds through these volatile markets, Charles Stanley has transitioned more than 900 staff from an office-based environment into homeworking – and people have adapted to this radically-different working style extremely well. This theme is echoed throughout global organisations, and a consensus has now formed that Covid-19 will be a catalyst for widespread change.
I am a trustee of a local air-ambulance charity, which has faced some extremely challenging decisions in the current environment. Frontline pilots and paramedics have been handed an almost impossible set of circumstances – yet continue to deliver critical care to people in desperate need. Fundraisers have seen their shops and events closed and cancelled, then instantly pioneered virtual strategies to keep the income tap flowing.
The events of the last few months have changed the world as we know it and in circumstances such as these, we all need to take stock. ‘Just put one foot in front of the other’ is a common mantra used by ultra-runners to drag themselves through the last few miles. With the world shrouded in uncertainty, we as investment professionals must navigate this challenging period one step at a time, confident that the resilience we have shown to date will make it easier for us to face the miles ahead.
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