2020 – the year that changed the world, our lives and our business
I recall distinctly the feeling of great optimism I had at the start of 2020. We had made great strides in 2019 and we were confident that those plans would come to fruition in the new year.
By the end of the year, one of our objectives had been met, but the others were mired in the uncertainty that the global pandemic wreaked upon all of us.
However, when I look back on 2020, I don’t think we have had a busier year. There were some times I am happy to never experience again, but on the whole, it has been a challenging time and one in which that I am certain we could never have achieved so much without the dedication and inspiration of the entire Stellar team.
We identified early on the year that London was going to close, so made sure all our staff could work remotely and, in the end, we left town before it shut. We believe we have worked in a highly effective and efficient way making use of technology that would have made things much harder say 10 years ago.
We recognised that communication was vital in times of crisis, so made extra commitment to both external and internal updates to our investors and advisers, as well as our staff. This was a new experience for all of us.
We embraced flexible working, introduced new ways (to us) of working and we take pride that we had no reason to furlough nor take harder personnel decisions.
We soon forgot our Brexit struggles, safe in the knowledge that as game theory decrees, a deal was always likely at the final stroke. If only both sides did not feel the need to leak every part of the negotiation, we could have been spared from a heightening of all our anxiety levels.
Earlier in the year we celebrated our 13th anniversary and reflected on what progress has been made and what opportunities lay ahead.
One of the most significant of these is the Inheritance Economy; a situation already underway where the amount of wealth being passed through the generations is at unprecedented levels. We have recognised that education in this area is vital as both the legacy providers and beneficiaries are going to need advice like never before.
We believe that this is not the job for one profession alone and advisers of all kinds is required to navigate intergenerational financial planning. We launched our partner service in the year to help with this situation and have brought together experts in many disciplines with a singular focus of helping clients achieve better outcomes. We are really excited about the opportunities in the coming months and years that this thinking will bring.
In September we opened an office in Liverpool to house our newly recruited AIM investment management team. We fulfilled a long-held desire to bring AIM stock picking and portfolio management in house. This allows us to have greater flexibility and control, while widening our AIM service for clients and crucially, it enables us to further deliver upon our ethos of transparency, education and best value.
The year also brought into focus our strategy to offer a truly diversified investment portfolio whether on AIM or in our asset backed services. As different businesses experienced different impacts of the pandemic during the year. AIM has gone on to more than recover the early losses it experienced and our portfolio, which at over 40 stocks is one of the most diverse, was up 21.4% in Q4 2020.
Many of our asset backed sectors were insulated from COVID such as forestry, farming and renewable energy and although we have experienced difficult decisions in our hotel businesses, we have made commitments to refurbishment and development during lockdown and are confident of these assets medium to long term performance. It is impossible to describe in an overview the work involved in managing assets in lockdown but by adhering to our values and principles and as ever through hard work we believe we have steered our portfolio through a turbulent passage with little damage.
We also saw the opportunity to dispose of assets which were unaffected, and we will be updating investors shortly as many of these completed in the last few weeks.
We head into the new year with cautious optimism. The vaccine roll out is the start of getting our lives back. We take heart that our parents and older relatives take priority.
As we continue to focus our attention on intergenerational wealth planning and the open and collaborative approach needed to make this a success, we look forward to supporting and working with our existing advisers and investors but also excited about the opportunity to work with even more of the profession so we can keep to our core activity which is helping to achieve the best financial outcome for our clients.
Written by Jonathan Gain
Stellar Asset Management Limited does not offer investment or tax advice or make recommendations regarding investments. Prospective investors should ensure that they read the brochure and fully understand the risk factors before making any investment decision. The value of investments and the income from them may fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. No assurance or guarantee is given that any targeted returns will be achieved. Forecasts of potential future results are not a reliable indicator of actual future results.
Stellar Asset Management Limited of Kendal House, 1 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XA is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.