Fortune’s coin has flipped

Fortune’s coin has flipped

Hasn’t it been lovely to actually have some real spring weather for a change! The Garden is looking lovely, with clematis, azaleas and wisteria either in bloom or soon, complemented by apple blossom, early bedding plants and the grass in otherwise muddy areas finally showing signs of recovery, from such a wet start to the year.

Bird life seems especially vibrant this year too with a great arrival of swallows back from South Africa. The greenery from trees and ferns is amazing as ever, enough to lift anyone’s spirits. Of course this year we have a special interest in the garden for at least a few more weeks as our daughter Esme is marrying Haydn and after the Church service, everyone is descending on Trimstone!

Added to all that, there’s something in the air. The ‘coin’ about which I have spoken many times has flipped from ‘all news is bad news’ to ‘all news is good news’. The UK market is reacting favourably to that, with some impressive gains and whilst powered by financials which are the biggest segment, hope is not limited to just a few major stocks either, though it is the FTSE100 which has been seeing regular new highs (about to be the most new consecutive highs in such a short period since it began in 1984). The FTSE250, a better reflection of ‘UK Plc’, is still way below its 2021 heights so it is not dear overall).

Whilst the UK is remarkably undervalued presently so the gains are long overdue compared to certain other markets, the ascent is likely to stimulate more buyers – those who love to chase something because of what it has done rather than what it might do later. This will include those who have been sitting on the sidelines – now including those with fears of missing-out and especially as interest rates on their savings are going to be cut. What makes the UK market, especially, so cheap in that it offers such great underlying tangible value. This is not based on speculative froth but good, old-fashioned investment principles and rewarded whilst you wait by very chunky dividends.

As investors know too, there are some tremendous special, technical opportunities in Investment Trusts trading at deep discounts so these should rise exponentially as your £1 invested today buys much more than £1’s worth of underlying assets, the same market assets for which others are paying say £1.03 to buy only £1’s worth in direct investments or other unitised funds, as sold by most advisers and fund management groups.

Put another way, at the time of our last very special edition newsletter to clients in early November (the first such since the Pandemic low) which screamed ‘Buy! Buy! Buy! (well words to that effect and also a warning to not do the wrong thing which was to sell then), it is worth reflecting that since the 26 October low the FTSE250 has risen 23% and well surpassing the FTSE100. This excludes generous dividends received and of course takes no account of any costs either. I am pleased to report that generally the rising tide has brought most ships up with it but of course that will never be universal. Funnily enough, I don’t recall seeing a general extent of confidence from all the other pundits (especially in UK shares) as we held then. Certainly we are not perfect but we called that absolutely correctly and in indelible ink! How and what were other advisers and managers doing…


So when is an economic forecast from say the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) good when it is bad? Whilst I think the prediction may be wrong about the UK’s prospects for 2024 compared to other OECD nations, a weaker outlook suggests inflation will be more supressed and interest rates more likely to fall and more quickly. UK (even the world?) economic growth is so predicated by consumer spending and whilst it is a generalism, those with debts will be able to spend more, when their mortgage and loan payments are lower. They tend to spend greater proportions of their available incomes than older people too, who are those who typically benefit from higher interest rates on savings. Of course, a few days after the OECD and showing the ridiculousness of forecasts, then the UK reports the highest growth in the last three months against both the US and the Eurozone… hmmm.

Talking forecasts… one of our stocks which has recovered from a March low of 26p to 76p, had a brokers’ note suggesting its target value is £2.50. This is how ridiculous the market is – we have ‘agreed’ for a long time how cheap the shares are but that doesn’t do anything to the share price immediately. I guess we must keep filling our boots (however small they are sadly!). It is higher than it has been since February 2022 now.

Good news

With all the incessant pessimism about economic progress and indeed ‘poverty’ and some significant chunk of society never having enough however well-off they really are, I thought it would be good to share a few nice pieces of news – and which tend to be swept away (usually by those baying for ‘more’ all the time). Of course it’s good to have a forward-looking perspective in life based on hope and not fear, absolutely and for those less fortunate than ourselves to improve their lot but maybe much more needs to be predicated on ‘being appreciative and grateful for what you have’ first! Of course, I realise too that when I say that ‘global capitalism has achieved this’ this might enrage some of our rather more left-leaning readers but it is true (yes it may be imperfect but grasp the benefits of benevolent capitalism).

Did you know that the number of people living a subsistence life is estimated to have dropped from 80% in 1820 to a mere 10% now? Of course a simple percentage overlooks the fact too that the world population increased from 1billion to nigh 8billion in that time so the actual numbers are even more impressive.

Even as recently as 1970, the rate of ‘extreme poverty’ was still at 50% so you can see how far we have all come and we should be grateful and proud of what our world has achieved – foibles and all, of course and it isn’t perfect, certainly. This rising prosperity has also led to better health, diet, education, technological advances and believe it or not but peace and the average life expectancy has doubled to 71. Even in the industrialising UK, the average expectancy in 1900 was under 50 and marriages lasted just six years, typically because of the death of one partner.

Can you manage your finances and investments?

It may sound a good idea to save some money and manage your own investments. However, are you as honest as 87% of people who suggest they have recognised that they don’t have the necessary ability to do that? This is what a Charles Schwab survey suggested and that most people recognise the value of seeking advice.

Some 87% of investors lack financial knowledge to manage portfolios – FTAdviser

Do you have the systems, can you access all the asset types you may want, do you have the time and wherewithal (and desire, let’s face it!) to be able to do it anyway? What about cost economies, access to market information, administrative systems, knowledge, expertise and experience… how are your emotions – can you rationalise your decisions and appreciate the patience which is so often needed, as well as sufficient confidence to buy when it looks awful and high risk and when others may be selling and selling when others may be buying when they believe euphoria is a permanent condition?

ESG confusions

So building more oil rigs in the North Sea may be an environmentally friendly thing to do… dismantling of existing redundant ones in the North Sea is likely to be delayed as protected seabirds are using them as tranquil, safe places and which are closer to their food sources. Kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and gulls (as well as crows!) have been recorded nesting on platforms.

Adding to that but armaments’ firms (traditionally seen as negative) are now treated as positive and acceptable. Whilst their goods may kill people, they allow nations to defend themselves from aggressors. Some things are never clear, are they! Of course one could take the view that any company listed on the UK Stock Exchange is satisfying legitimate business activities by paying taxes so who is anyone to say that what ‘they’ do is illicit or ‘unethical’ anyway? The listing authority is none other than the FCA which oversees such ESG ‘descriptions’ and definitions as well. Remember too that all businesses have to satisfy ever more stringent regulations covering all these subjects as well – and engaging with their stakeholders demands that they react to expected principles and standards in delivering their goods and services.

Following-on from that but we have just had our property insurance review and yes, having good solar panels and batteries now results in an increased premium for the higher risks.

One piece of ‘good news’ on the wider ESG position however is that our professional indemnity premium to protect clients has fallen over the year by 36%, primarily because we had no transfers from defined benefit pension schemes. Why no transfers? Because sadly the wonderful window of colossal pension transfer values has closed dead-shut and those wise people who acted when interest rates were so low had lifetime opportunities of good fortune, especially as their recipient pots should have been invested in very undervalued assets too, so a double win. No, a high transfer value does not mean transfer is right but a low one invariably means it cannot be substantiated in most instances. Would it not have been great (and right) if schemes had been forced to write to their members when transfer values were so high, encouraging them to seek independent advice.

North Devon Business Awards

It has been our pleasure to be the lead sponsor of the North Devon Business awards since inception too and to present the latest prize to Coastal Recycling from Torrington – well done to them and Rob Zarywacz for the vision of these and then coordinating and organising them ever since!

Yours truly is pictured with winner Emily Delve and awards organiser Robert Zarywacz.

My best wishes

Philip J Milton DipFS CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS FCIB

Chartered Wealth Manager

Fellow Of The Personal Finance Society, Fellow Of The Chartered Institute Of Bankers



Risk Warning
Stock market investments offer income through the payment of dividends and interest and good opportunities for capital appreciation over the longer term. Generally this means periods over five years, preferably much longer. However, we can never promise you particular returns, especially in the short-term. At any point in time but especially in the short term, your capital could be worth less than the original amount invested as some of the selected holdings may fall in value, regardless of expectations when investing. We may also invest in funds holding overseas securities. The value of these will increase or decrease as a result of changes in currency exchange rates. Returns achieved in the past cannot be relied upon to be repeated.
To remind you, why do I send out occasional emails? Because everyone can save money. We have no connection with any companies mentioned and you have to make your own contacts and satisfy your own enquiries. What is in it for us? If we can prove we are knowledgeable and that our service and advice have good value, then you might contact us for professional financial planning and investment help. You don’t have to do that of course and there’s no charge for emails. If simply you save or make money, then accept them with our compliments! However, you’ll know where we are!
If you have any queries of any form or indeed any subjects we could consider, please contact me. Our website is available too: We celebrate our 40th anniversary next year and have been publishing a well-respected independent column in the local Paper since not long after we started and free client newsletters as well.
Do not forget the usual caveats – this is not ‘advice’ and you are encouraged to seek that before embarking upon any financial route involving investments, etc. Philip J Milton & Company plc, its directors, officers, employees and shareholders may own shares personally in any company mentioned.
Data is sourced externally. Although we check to ensure it is as accurate as possible, we cannot be responsible for data from third parties. If you wish to buy any investment, product or service because of this update please seek advice or conduct your own research before doing so. We cannot be liable for decisions made as a result of our publication (and where no advice has been sought). Past performance does not guide future performance. Investments can fall and rise.