In June 2014, we held an in-house investment conference on disruptive technologies. With insight from external speakers from technology companies, investment strategists and specialist fund managers, we considered how technology will change how we live and how these changes might affect investors. It was a fascinating day.
Personalised medicine will disrupt every part of the healthcare sector, from R&D and clinical trials, through diagnostic testing to regulation and healthcare provision (whether insurance-based or through national systems, such as the NHS). This will be driven by economics and improved medical outcomes. A key challenge will be the storage and analysis of huge quantities of patient data.
Automation: If the machines aren't coming for your jobs, are they coming for your investment returns?
Despite alarmist media reports, the risk to most jobs from automation is low for the foreseeable future — we tend to an optimistic view of mankind’s ability to respond to technological disruption. Nonetheless, certain segments of mid-skill workers may be vulnerable and politicians will need to address the impact on standards of living.
Through advances in battery storage technology, we are on the cusp of major changes for electric vehicles and alternative energy. These are likely to be disruptive to utilities — with the ability for homes to go ‘off grid’ — and car manufacturers. Less reliance on fossil fuel consumption could have significant geopolitical implications.
Blockchain offers an alternative to many record-based transactions, from money transfers and asset custody to ‘know your client’ checks, healthcare records and music downloading. It would release huge cost savings and create additional value, but could negatively impact employment levels. Otherwise, transaction times are likely to be reduced.
Early last year, investors were preoccupied with fears about the pace of China's economic slowdown and the threat of deflation. Just 12 months later, and almost 10 years since the start of the financial crisis, a global economic upturn appears to be under way across the US, Europe, Asia and most large developing countries.
The Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse Home Internationals will be an exciting weekend of lacrosse and one of the last chances for the home nation teams to test their mettle before the upcoming FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in July.
Stock markets continue to take an optimistic view of the risks to future earnings, but we remain gently cautious and note that there are plenty of reasons not to be complacent.