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Are you in or are you out?

By Andy Hearne 13th June 2016

This article was originally published on Quadrant Group’s website. Quadrant Group was acquired by Progeny in March 2017.

In case you are wondering, you’ll be very pleased to know that this article isn’t about comparing the shape of our belly buttons. As you probably guessed, I’ll be talking about the upcoming EU referendum.

Background

On Thursday 23rd June we will all be making one of the most important voting decisions of our time: whether to leave or remain a member of the European Union. This referendum will go down in history, directly affecting future generations, so we should all be considering the well-being of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews when we cast our votes.

In the red corner we have the vote-remain campaign and in the blue corner we have the vote-leave campaign. However, this isn’t a clean fight, with both camps being accused of excessive fear-mongering using ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’.

Speaking of statistics, recent surveys have suggested rising support for the UK leaving the EU with 43-45% favouring that the UK leave the EU and 40-41% wanting to remain a member of the EU, so it’s shaping up to be a very exciting debate and is highly likely to be a photo-finish.

What are the options?

The vote itself is really simple and your options will be as follows:

Vote to remain a member of the European Union ☐
Vote to leave the European Union ☐

What should we believe?

Politics seems to have become increasingly more theatrical in recent years with some remarkably dramatic individuals. With so many aspiring Thespians, it makes it very difficult for the public to know what to believe and, more importantly, whom to trust.

I sometimes wish political debates were carried out publicly on Facebook for us all to see. If they had been, I think the referendum debate would have gone something like this:

  • David and Angela have changed their relationship status to ‘it’s complicated’
  • David thinks we should remain a member of the EU
  • Boris thinks we should leave the EU
  • David is no longer friends with Boris
  • George likes this
  • Boris and Nigel are now friends
  • Jeremy is now online

If nothing else, it would make for some entertaining reading. But, in all seriousness, how do we cut through all the noise and where can we learn the important stuff to find out what really matters?

I highly recommend the BBC’s attempt to present all of the key issues and their best-effort to provide a balanced view of the ‘vote-leave’ and ‘vote-remain’ commentary.

For further reading / watching, check out the London School of Economics’ Brexit video series and the Adam Smith Institute.

What do I think?

It’s quite common for people to want headline information, so they can make a quick decision. However, I think at best this risks being misleading and at worst it can be dangerous. Some decisions, by their very nature, require lots of time to carry out sufficient research and analysis, whilst others require guidance and advice from professional experts. For example, you wouldn’t want to build a house or have surgery performed based on headline information.

With everything I’ve learned in financial services over the years, I always attempt to draw conclusions using evidence-based research and, where I lack any knowledge, resource or experience, I utilise the expertise of other professionals. So, instead of pretending here that I know enough about the pros and cons of leaving or remaining a member of the EU, I find myself drawn to the expanding list of experts who have a far-greater understanding of these things than I ever could.

Vote-remain campaign
David Cameron – Prime Minister
George Osborne – Chancellor
William Hague – Former Chancellor
Jeremy Corbyn – Leader of the Opposition
Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London
Ed Milliband – Former Leader of the Opposition
Tim Farron – Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Nick Clegg – Former Deputy Prime Minister
Vince Cable – Former Business Secretary
Mark Carney – Governor of the Bank of England
Nicholas Barr – Professor at the London School of Economics
Paul Johnson – Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies
Christine Lagarde – MD of the International Monetary Fund
Roberto Azevedo – Director General of the World Trade Organisation
Vote-leave campaign
Boris Johnson – Former Mayor of London
Michael Gove – Justice Secretary
Priti Patel – Employment Minister
Nicky Morgan – Education Secretary
Iain Duncan Smith – Former Work and Pensions Secretary
Norman Tebbit – Former Chairman of the Conservatives
Douglas Hurd – Former Foreign Secretary
Nigel Lawson – Former Chancellor
David Davis – Former Shadow Home Secretary
Nigel Farage – Leader of UKIP
David Owen – Former Foreign Secretary

Alternatively, from a vote-leave point of view, it’s easy to see why those who favour ‘Brexit’ might see these lists as a clear example of conspiracy at the top!

What will happen to investment markets?

As the referendum unravels itself over the next week or so, whatever the outcome, there will inevitably be a period of volatility for global equity markets and currencies. This should be no cause for alarm for long-term global investors, merely a reminder that any uncertainty brings about market volatility in the short-term. Also, although markets respond quickly to news that’s hot-off-the-press, equity markets also attempt to anticipate news and a degree of the current uncertainty has already been incorporated into today’s market prices.

In uncertain times, it’s important to remember the lessons we’ve learned from a number of studies into so-called Behavioural Finance and our recent article on the eight common behavioural biases of investors.

As always, you should follow a robust investment process and ensure that your investments are held in a well-diversified global portfolio, in accordance with your comfort-zone for risk, whilst also ensuring that you have emergency savings and sufficient income for your lifestyle needs. For more information on how keep your investments healthy, please see Andrew Pereira’s recent article on Financial Fitness.

Conclusion

Perhaps we should simply vote to replace the ‘U’ in ‘Union’ with an ‘O’ and rename it ‘The European Onion’. From one perspective it has many layers and goes really well with everything, but from another angle it contains pungent substances that can irritate and even bring people to tears.

It’s your vote. You decide.

Key dates

When is the vote? 7am to 10pm on Thursday, 23rd June 2016
When do I have to return a postal vote by? 10pm on Thursday 23rd June 2016

This article does not constitute financial advice. Individuals must not rely on this information to make a financial or investment decision. Before making any decision, we recommend you consult your financial planner to take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation and individual needs. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections.

This article is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.

Past performance is not indicative of future results and the value of investments can fall as well as rise. No representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.

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