Update: July 2020 Keeping you in the loop

We are now through the first 4 months of the COVID-19 Pandemic and life is very strange indeed.

Although the number of infections are down in the UK significantly, there are still pockets of infections and life is still far from normal. In my 32 years of advising clients, family and friends, I have never seen something of this proportion that affects so many people and businesses from all walks of life.

Although this uncertainty has affected us all in so many ways, we feel that it is important at times such as these that we continue to keep you updated.

The Stock Markets

The second quarter to 30th June 2020 has witnessed strong equity returns, bouncing back, as expected, from the initial panic and mass market sell-offs in quarter one.  Although markets have performed strongly over the last 3 months, whilst the COVID-19 pandemic continues, caution still prevails particularly if further spikes in the virus occur.

In the UK, the FTSE100 Index rose by 11.3% during the past 3 months to 30th June 2020. This was in fact one of the poorer performing major indices as the UK has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with high infection and death rates, which are slowing the easing of lockdowns.

The economic uncertainty in the UK has been compounded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ('OECD') forecasting an 11.5% decline in GDP in 2020, followed by a 9% rebound in 2021, but also despite not hitting the daily headlines, the Brexit negotiations are still to be concluded! We expect a deal to be reached but the potential for a no-deal exit still exists and therefore volatility is expected to continue.

Negative yields now cover all UK Gilts (loans to the government) with maturities up to 7 years. This is incredible and means that investors are willing to pay the government to take their money!  This is largely due to gilts being a ‘safe haven’, however, it does point to how difficult it will be to achieve income in the future.

This is why we still believe that our proposition is strong for the long term.

As previously reported, the US fiscal and monetary response to the crisis has been extraordinary, with the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates to zero, announcing unlimited quantitative easing and being committed to buying investment grade and high yield corporate bonds.

With these unprecedented stimulus measures and expectant low inflation levels, equity returns are predicted to be positive, having already posted returns in the US of 21.8% over the last 3 months. However, the main concern is the relatively high COVID-19 infection rate with the number of new cases seeming to continue to rise.

The US have the Presidential election in November, with the race between Trump and Biden expected to be close.  A sustained recovery in the US stock market will be Trump’s best aid in re-election to the White House.

Concerning our funds we were delighted to learn that Adrian Frost, lead manager of Artemis Income Fund has just been awarded Investment Week award for outstanding investment manager over 25 years. This fund is one of our core holdings and is still performing very well, despite the volatility.

Commercial Property

We have experienced a great deal of difficulty following the March and June quarter rent dates, with a multitude of tenants across all sectors failing to pay their rent due. In most instances the issues faced by tenants that have not paid are genuine and it remains our firm belief that where possible we are far better working with an existing tenant to help them through these extreme times than creating a vacant unit, with all the associated costs this produces.

As a consequence of COVID-19 and the impact this has had upon businesses, a number of property fund managers are reporting less than 20% of rents due have been received for this period, which is unprecedented.  Although in comparison, we have achieved a very strong 68% of rents for March & June across all our syndicates, we are by no means complacent and continue to work with tenants to improve this number.  Where appropriate, we are also negotiating concession packages on our members’ behalf that we feel are equitable for both parties and once these have been negotiated to a level we feel to be fair, we are approaching the syndicates on a case by case basis to put such proposals to a vote.

Moving forwards, we may see some tenants continue to struggle with their short-term obligations, so as the economic situation unfolds working together for the longer term and therefore working with tenants to achieve good outcomes for both parties will probably be the best way forward.

It is also possible that some tenants will need to have permanent holidays for the payments that they have missed, just to allow them to get back on their feet.  This won’t be dissimilar to stock market based funds, where over the same period investors are expecting to receive about 60% of their normal dividends from the shares that they hold, because of the effect COVID-19 has had on their profits.

Whatever decisions have to be made, some will be easy and some not so easy, but we will want to ensure that your investments not only stay strong in the short to medium term, but also that you benefit in the longer term by the decisions that are made today.

We also strongly believe that a spread across our syndicates is a great way to hold good assets in strong locations, as they will continue to provide a good spread of investments and a good spread of income for many years to come and we are still actively looking for new opportunities should they arise at the right price.

You may know that in the past, every 6 months we have independently valued our commercial properties, so that you will always have an up to date figure for your assets. As a result of the pandemic, this is virtually impossible, however, the board feel that we need to reflect the position in values and the most straightforward way to apply this principle was to use a property index figure across all commercial properties and all sectors in the country. The index used is the CBRE commercial property index which since the crisis started is showing a 6.3% reduction in values.

Therefore, your property values whether in LLP holdings or in your Options UK (Carey) SIPP will reflect this reduction moving forwards on your portal or your portfolio valuations from Lewis’.

Lewis Investment

Concerning our staff, we are now working towards a plan that will not only ensure good service for you, but strong continuity for the company and all our stakeholders for the long term.  If you need any help or advice in the meantime we are available and open for business, so please don't hesitate to get in touch.

We have had a tremendous response to our new Apple iOS App, with the servers just about taking the strain of launch day and now many clients are benefiting from its technology. If you have not yet downloaded this, you can read our instructions  on how to download it HERE.  We’re still working on an android version, but for non-apple users the new portal can still be accessed from your preferred internet browser. Just let us know if you need access details to be provided or have any problems with it.

It just leaves me to wish you the best of health and rest assured we are here to help wherever we can.

Tim Lewis

Introducing the new Lewis Investment iOS App

If you are an iOS user, Lewis’ are pleased to launch the brand-new Lewis Investment App on the itunes app store.

The Lewis iPhone/iPad App offers you the flexibility and convenience of accessing your investment portfolio directly from your mobile device, as well as being able to view your personalised recommendations, sign digital application forms on-the-go and allow you to communicate with us securely.

With the App you can:

  • Interactively access your Investment portfolio anytime, from anywhere
  • View your previous valuations and recommendation reports
  • Digitally sign application forms and documents
  • Secure message your adviser directly or receive information from us
  • Upload photos or documents to us securely from your phone or iPad.
  • View your recent transaction history
  • Log in to your account using fingerprint or Face ID biometrics  (if your device supports these)
 
You can download our App from the Apple App Store by clicking the button below on your iPhone or iPad

Alternatively, the App can be reached through the following link:
https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/lewis-investment-client-portal/id1512724995
Your existing client portal username and password will work for the new App, or should you require your user details for the first time or if you need any further technical information please contact ITadmin@lewisinvestment.co.uk or call 01202 718400.
Note: Requires iOS 10.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

How we will work with you in the future

We have been thinking about how we will work with you in the future

We realise that it will take considerable time before we can all be confident that the virus has been contained and we appreciate that some of us may not be comfortable with face-to-face contact.
 
Thinking proactively for the future, we have been looking at how we can adjust the way we work to suit your preferences and have prepared a short video which can be viewed by following this LINK.
 
If the video is too fast you can pause it using the control button in the left hand corner.
 
We will be in contact with you again very soon as our new facial recognition client app comes on line.
 
In the meantime stay safe.
 
Very best wishes.

Tim Lewis 

Keeping you in the loop

As previously advised the Lewis Offices were closed following the Prime Minister’s announcement introducing significant new restrictions on business activities and further guidance on social distancing.

The Health & Safety of our staff, their families and our clients was our first and foremost priority.  With all our staff working from home it has been “business as usual” for the last couple of weeks and we have been able to deliver our normal level of service.  Our team have been like graceful swans furiously paddling below the surface dealing with this extraordinary situation.

As no one knows how long the current measures will remain in place we have now moved to our second priority – ensuring that we can maintain a level of service to you our clients throughout these uncertain times.

We have taken our own financial advice and made some really tough decisions due to the significant reduction in new business.  It is not, and will never be, our intention to lose any of our most valuable assets, our people, but to make this possible we have temporarily reduced our team of advisers and support staff. 

We have placed them on furlough (a new Government job protection scheme) so they can continue to receive an income through this uncertain time. Please be assured that this process has been carried out in consultation with our entire team and they are all keen to ensure your interests are paramount. 

We also wanted to ensure that when the time is right we will be ready to help play are part in keeping the economy going and will need our experienced team to do this.

If you try to contact your normal adviser and receive an out of office reply this will contain the contact details of our authorised financial adviser directors - please do email them they will be happy to provide advice and guidance.

These are unprecedented times and our team will be doing their best to respond to you as quickly as possible, so please be patient with us.  We will endeavour to continue to be here for you, COVID-19 or not.

Please stay safe

Tim

Precautionary Office Closure

As a precautionary measure and to minimise the exposure and spread of the Coronavirus we have closed our office.  The health and well-being of our team, our clients and their families are of paramount importance to us.  In line with government guidance we have taken steps to enable our team to work from home where ever possible.

We have asked our advisers to conduct client meetings via Facetime, Skype or telephone and to stop all unnecessary travel.  Where possible correspondence will be sent by email or made accessible via our client portal.

We will continue to operate all services during this time but it may take a little longer than usual to speak to one of our team.  You can still contact us on 01202 718400.

We thank you for your understanding and patience.

Stay well and take care.

Tim Lewis

Nova Clifton 93 – Fully Subscribed

Clifton is a charming suburb of Bristol, it is arguably the most affluent part of the city and is highly desirable as a place to live and work, which is reflected in property values.  The village is home to an eclectic mix of retailers and restaurant operators, including Ivy Brasserie, Cote, Zizzi and Hotel du Vin.

The subject property is a well-known eatery that has traded as the Clifton Sausage since 2002 and has a loyal following. It is situated in a quiet yet central location and provides a total of just over 4,000 sq ft of accommodation over basement, ground and first floor. It is our opinion that in future years the property could lend itself to redevelopment, subject to the necessary consents.

 

Nova Shrewsbury 91 – Fully Subscribed

Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire and is an extremely well regarded, historic and affluent town with a population of circa 75,000 and a catchment of around 200,000.

The subject property is situated in a roadside development on the Town’s main ring-road, approx. 2 miles from the town centre. It comprises a modern purpose built Travelodge hotel comprising 41 bedrooms with associated parking and is ideally situated, being adjacent to a Greene King public house, a fuel station with convenience store, a Starbucks and Burger King Drive-Thru’s, making the scheme very convenient to visitors that do not want to travel to the town centre, such as those visiting the plethora of businesses at the neighbouring business parks.

YMCA Bournemouth Big Sleep Easy 2019

On the evening of Saturday 16th November 2019, Simon Warner and David Kiss joined almost 200 staff, managers and directors from businesses and organisations across Dorset who braved the cold to take part in the YMCA Bournemouth Big Sleep Easy.  They built their own shelters out of cardboard boxes and spent the night outside at Bournemouth Sports Club.

The total funds raised, just short of £38k, will help the YMCA Bournemouth to continue in their work enabling homeless individuals to return to independent accommodation and a positive long-term future.

Donations can still be made until 31st March 2020 so if you would like to donate their fund raising pages are:

David - https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidKiss

Simon - https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SimonWarner11

IF YOU DO DONATE - DON’T FORGET TO TICK THE GIFT AID BOX!

A New Year and a new name for Carey Pensions

"From the 1st January 2020, we are changing our name to Options, this represents a new year and a new chapter in our growth, now as part of STM group.

Our team here in Milton Keynes thanks you for your continued support, which we value, and we promise to continue to support you too.
We’ll be launching Options to the market place in the New Year.  We encourage you to visit our new website, www.optionspensions.co.uk from 1st January.

We are confident and committed to delivering our promises to do things right.
 
If you have any questions at all, please call us on 0330 124 1510 or, after 1st January 2020, send us an email at lewis@optionspensions.co.uk and we will be happy to help.
 
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to working with you in the new year."
 
Christine Hallett
CEO, Carey Pensions UK

Nova Chandler 90 – Fully Subscribed

The property consists of a modern style terrace of Warehouse/Industrial units, extending to 21,143 sq ft. The units were originally comprising six self-contained elements and occupied by four different tenants on varying terms.

The estate is situated in arguably Weymouth’s premier business location,   adjacent to the New Look Headquarters, a Premier Inn, a flagship Sainsbury supermarket with fuel station, a Morrisons and a nearby Lidl. There is also a “Park & Ride” within comfortable walking distance providing extra parking and bus services from the town centre.

 

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