Letter from Rathbones' Chief Executive Paul Stockton, 28 April
I hope that you and your families are keeping well during the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Last month I wrote to you explaining the steps Rathbones is taking to deal with the situation and how you can continue to keep in touch with us over the coming weeks. As we all continue under a lockdown scenario, and as markets continue to react, I thought I would take this opportunity to update you.
As I trust you are experiencing, we are continuing to deliver Rathbones’ full range of services throughout the outbreak. Your investment manager or other usual Rathbones contact remains available to discuss the management of your portfolio, or any other matters, via their normal landline or mobile telephone number or email address. Please do feel free to get in touch – in particular if your circumstances change in any way, as this may affect the work we are doing for you. I hope you will understand that as a precaution we may need to call you back in order to confirm we are speaking to the right person; these extra security protocols are necessary to prevent any fraud attempts.
A small number of our employees continue to attend our offices in person to deal with matters such as incoming post, but as the Royal Mail service is curtailed I would ask you to contact us by phone or email whenever possible, both to minimise the need for employees to travel and to avoid any delays. We will continue to make sure that our ability to operate a “remote working” infrastructure remains effective, and I hope you will agree that it demonstrates resilience and adaptability as we strive to continue providing the high levels of service that you have come to expect from us.
While the global economy has experienced a severe shock, the response from governments around the world has also been unprecedented in its scale and ambition, with monetary policy adjustments and widespread healthcare and social initiatives aimed at protecting people and supporting companies. Our latest Investment Update, and other updates also available on our website, give detailed analysis of the situation and what we expect in the months ahead.
We have already started to see a number of companies cutting dividend payments, which is naturally a great concern for many investors, especially those who rely on them for income. We do expect to see volatile markets for some time yet, but we hold to our firm belief that in a world where growth will be harder to achieve, the best place to invest continues to be in quality companies with strong balance sheets and customer-focused products or services that are sustainable in the longer term. We are also starting to see opportunities for making a difference in the fight against this pandemic – for example, the Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund has already purchased its first COVID-19 response bonds for those needing help in Africa and Latin America. There are ways emerging for capital markets to do good in this time of crisis.
As you know, investing should always aim to support long-term financial aims, holding a steady course in the face of short-term ups and downs while still taking advantage of any resulting new opportunities. However, I do understand that the conditions we are experiencing at the moment may feel unsettling. I would encourage you to discuss any concerns with your investment manager or your financial adviser. We are here to help. Our in-house team of researchers is producing thoughtful output analysing the crisis, what it means for your investments, and the opportunities we are seeing in these volatile markets. These reports are all available to you on rathbones.com if you are interested in reading more.
Rathbones continues to be well capitalised, holding both mandatory regulatory and internal capital buffers designed specifically to weather market volatility. More details on our capital position can be found in the investor relations section of our website.
We have already seen a number of members of staff volunteering to help vulnerable people within their communities as well as looking after their own friends and families, and we will continue to support this activity. Every employee has an annual time allowance with which to undertake volunteering and we have made this policy even more flexible during the outbreak so that people are able to offer help where it is needed. This sense of responsibility to each other, to our clients and communities, is at the very heart of what we do.
I know these are worrying times. Let me assure you that we will continue to work tirelessly throughout this crisis to protect your investments and help you continue to meet your long-term financial objectives. In the meantime, do watch out for fraudsters willing to take advantage of this situation. My best wishes for the coming weeks and thank you for your continued support.