The new year is well underway and First Financial’s Managing Director, Ben Rossi, would like to share his thoughts and well wishes for the months ahead.
Happy New Year to everyone and I hope 2020 has started off well. The festive season seems all too distant now and it’s back to normality… especially the traffic.
Our hearts go out to the many bushfire victims who have lost loved ones. This season we have seen an unprecedented event that has taken many lives, properties and possessions. While we hope the worst is over, we know that February often brings extreme weather conditions. We encourage everyone to remain cautious and vigilant during this time.
There’s no doubt that 2019 was an eventful year and many of the key developments within the finance industry will continue to influence during 2020.
The Royal Commission was top of mind for most of the year
It helped to change some deplorable industry practices of the past, particularly amongst the larger institutions. The good news is that people can expect a more positive experience going forward.
Investors in the banks saw share prices come down and this volatility may continue as penalties and fines continue to make the headlines… but that doesn’t mean you should panic.
Unfortunately, due to the bad publicity, many of those who need assistance the most may not seek it. And that typically means they will end up in a more challenging financial position in the future.
Also, industry regulators have continued to tighten compliance. In this instance, we’ve seen the introduction of many inefficient and ambiguous requirements. We ask for your patience as we introduce measures that may seem cumbersome. Our team will continue to keep you informed and updated with any changes.
Share markets at all-time highs
Many factors influenced the share markets during 2019 and their performance is now at (or near) all-time highs.
Aside from good news on company earnings, the low interest rate environment is certainly helping… and we anticipate that this may continue.
For those familiar with investment markets, you will know that the media loves to tout an imminent crash at these times. To some extent, they are correct. Eventually, there will be a fall – you just need to wait long enough. If history has shown us anything at all… it’s not to jump at shadows (or newspapers).
Markets will go down. Then they will go up and then they will go down again. And so on…
We firmly believe in our investment philosophy – a philosophy that specifically caters for the potential of market corrections. It can help to avoid losing out on great long-term returns.
We can’t protect ourselves from everything, but protect what you can
We usually remember to protect our valued possessions… houses, cars etc. And we know that in the case of an extreme event, this protection proves worthwhile.
However, we are less inclined to protect our ‘most valuable’ possession… the ability to continue our lifestyle.
Many of us have large mortgages and ongoing life commitments such as education costs, utility bills etc. Losing the ability to generate income, either through death or disablement, can be devastating.
And even in retirement, you could still be impacted. Your children may find themselves in financial difficulty after an extreme event and they may need to rely on you for assistance. Depending on the severity of their situation, that assistance may need to continue for many years… or even for the rest of their lives.
Many of our retiree clients say they would like to help out the kids while they are still alive, but can’t afford to make large withdrawals from their retirement funds.
Instead, some choose to help by taking out insurance policies for their kids. Not only are they providing support for their children, they are also safeguarding their own financial future. The cost of protecting against these events is usually much lower than you think. It’s definitely worthwhile having the discussion if you haven’t already.
Wrap up of the 2019 changes at First Financial
Finally, there were many changes within the First Financial team during last year.
Chris White retired as Managing Director and I took over the role. It’s always a challenge stepping into a new position, but some say “the best man has the job now”… or maybe that was just me.
It was a huge year for recruitment and we have thirteen new team members. We hope that you will see this translate to an even better client experience going forward. Also in the human resources area, we celebrated seven promotions and internal progressions. We are dedicated to supporting our staff through their career development and are proud to watch their professional growth.
Finally, there’s been plenty of love in the air with six engagements and weddings, along with seven new babies or pregnancies… they know not what is to come!
Best wishes to all for 2020!