The coronavirus lockdown has completely changed the working lives of huge swathes of the global population. In our Adviser Diaries series we take a look at life in lockdown for a number of Progeny team members to find out how they have adapted, what’s changed, and what has stayed the same. First up is Investment Manager, Craig Melling.
Craig, how are you finding lockdown so far?
What a couple of weeks we’ve all had. Progeny’s Asset Management team is fully functional and working hard for all our clients. We are all working in the safety of our own environment.
What does your lockdown office look like?
I sit writing with a cuppa in hand from my new workstation. A workstation which seems to be evolving on a daily basis. I started two weeks ago on the front room sofa, laptop on knee. Now I’m at a desk which last saw the light of day when I studied for my A levels, on a chair acquired from a friend who relocated to Scotland and couldn’t fit it in the removal van (thank you Colin). There’s a TV sourced from the spare bedroom, dusted down and brought back from retirement, and lastly my Olaf The Snowman pen holders made by my beautiful 4-year-old.
Talk us through your new daily routine
My day starts around 7:15am and, with the daily commute significantly shorter, I’m at my desk by 7:30am digesting the news and assessing company outlooks for the day. We have our first of two Progeny Investment Manager calls at 8am. We discuss thoughts and duties for the day, and update each other on any news flow from the stocks and funds we are responsible for.
At 9.00am I dial in to a call with every member of the team to work through anything we need from each other.
Then it’s time to get down to the day job, looking at trades, reading research, dialling in to fund manager calls and company updates and obviously answering a higher-than-normal volume of client calls and queries – only natural in times of stress. I collate my ideas for the second Investment Management call post US market open at 2:30pm. With so much going on, planning my workload is more important than ever, so I make sure I set myself and the team clear goals for the day.
When the work day ends and the kids are in bed, it’s time for my daily jog, with the added incentive of the virtual Progeny Running Club and weekly leaderboard to spur me on.
Looking to the impact on the wider world, how has coronavirus affected the markets?
As I sit here with Bloomberg on, looking out of the window, things all seem serene and calm – quite the contrast to the heightened volatility seen in global stock markets. It’s hard to believe, but in just more than a month, global stocks have gone from a record high to the fastest correction in history to the best week since 1938. Driving these moves to a great extent were the contrasting investor sentiments of complacency at first and then panic.
Markets have seen some of the biggest single day movements and the only certainty at this time is volatility.
We’ve spoken a lot about what has changed. What has stayed the same?
We remain true to our process of looking for consistency and quality. It’s at times like this the importance of a process really comes to the fore. Investor emotions are heightened and highly charged. Our process helps us shut out the noise and make informed, fundamentally-backed decisions for clients.
There are seemingly lots of challenges for companies at the moment and we’re seeing extremes that no financial models will have ever gone to. The economy has indeed virtually stopped. But financial markets have faced many challenges in the past and remain good custodians of capital longer term.
Are there any positives to take away?
This, in my view, will be a time of opportunity but also a time to act sensibly and rely on the process. As a team we are researching and checking our funds and stocks continually. I am a Yorkshireman so like a bargain, but you have to know why and what you are looking for and buying.
Any final words you’d like to add?
Normality is returning as we all pull together and adapt, something we can all be proud of. The support we give each other is important and needed more than ever at this time.