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We are here for you now and we will be here when it’s over

The Smith Eliot team are all working remotely and doing everything they can to provide the normal high level of service to clients.

Our office is closed, but our phone lines are open. All calls are being redirected to the staff, so you can speak to us on our main number 01572 759759 or you can contact your adviser directly on their mobile number.

Below is some information and advice around specific financial issues and products. Contact us if you want more detail or have specific questions.

UK Finance has been seeking urgent clarification from the government about whether home purchases should continue at the current time, particularly as physical property valuations are no longer possible. The government has now stated that:

  • Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
  • If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.
  • Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being.


Further detailed guidance is anticipated shortly and UK Finance are seeking urgent clarification from the FCA that they see no barrier if the customer wants to go ahead.

In light of the current situation, we’re reviewing our product range so please contact me to discuss any new cases before you submit them.

Mortgages

If we are currently handling a mortgage or remortgage for you;

We will continue with the application and will keep you informed. However, there are a couple of generic issues which may delay progress;

Valuations and Survey Reports

If your property has not been valued or surveyed as yet, this can not happen until the lock down has been lifted.

There is a possibility that your mortgage lender will be able to do a desk-top valuation, which will allow your application to proceed. If this is the case we may be able to obtain a mortgage offer – we will let you know if this is possible.

Land-registry, Solicitors and Lenders

Mortgage applications are reliant on your solicitor and the Land-registry continuing to work through the crisis.  At the time of writing we have not experienced any issues but we will monitor the situation and let you know if anything changes.

On a positive note…

Whatever challenges may come up, our talented team will get you as far as possible in the process. We will not give up, so when the lock down is lifted we will make sure you our clients are first in the queue!

If we have arranged a mortgage for you and you are concerned that you may need to take a payment holiday;

The government has given lenders a directive to allow borrowers to take a payment holiday for 3 months if they are in difficulty during the crisis. Your lender should have contacted you directly and informed you that – if you do decide to take a payment holiday – it will not have an adverse effect on your credit record.

Most lenders will deal with the payment holiday by increasing your loan by an equivalent amount plus interest, so expect your payment to go up slightly afterwards.

If you are interested in taking a payment holiday, visit your lender’s website, where you can apply online and find out more about how your lender proposes to deal with the holiday. If you would like to discuss it with your Smith Eliot adviser, please contact us

Investments and Pensions

The spread of coronavirus has intensified in Europe in recent days and, for many, there are deep concerns about the impact it may have on our loved ones and on our day-to-day lives in the coming weeks.

Aside from the human cost, there is an economic one. The scale of the virus has led to some bruising weeks for global markets and recently we saw the worst trading day on the FTSE100 index since Black Monday in October 1987. Clearly, this has an impact on market sentiment and there will, inevitably, be heightened volatility as the threat of a recession grows.

Hold tight during the storm

It is worth emphasising that, despite these shocks, evidence shows that the worst days are often followed by some of the best days. Therefore, rather than selling low and trying to time the markets, time in the markets and weathering the storm generally reaps rewards as valuations recover. In the short term, uncertainty is likely to be the only certainty. Staying the course with a diversified portfolio of investments, positioned for the long-term, is typically the best route to achieving your goals.

These turbulent times also provide investment opportunities for the roster of active fund managers who serve St. James’s Place clients. Lower valuations caused by market falls provide scope for our managers to deploy cash and add to positions in companies trading at attractive prices. Indeed, some of our managers have reported portfolio turnover (changes to the holdings in their portfolio of investments) of around 10% and one manager commented this week that “it has been a while since we have been able to add this level of value for our investors”.

The Investment Committee is working on behalf of our clients

Rest assured that, throughout these periods of market volatility, the Investment Committee is in frequent contact with fund managers, ensuring that they continue to manage client money according to their agreed mandate and delivering the best possible outcomes for clients.

With St. James’s Place managing your fund managers, and us liaising with you about what is happening in the markets and ensuring you are invested in line with your attitude to risk, we have all bases covered. Of course, we are aware that attitude to risk can change during situations like this, so please contact us to discuss this if you are at all concerned.

On a positive note…

If you are holding cash or low risk investments, there will be a great opportunity for those with the right attitude to risk to experience real capital growth when stock markets start to recover

If this is you, talk to us so that we can explore the most tax efficient investment and get you in a position to invest when the time comes.

Government Support

Over recent weeks we have seen the Government make huge and unprecedented leaps forward to support the country. So far, we have seen packages for the employed and for businesses, but not for self-employed individuals.

It is more tricky for the Government to put together packages for self-employed people but, rest assured, they are coming. The aim is to create an equivalent package to the employed, which is 80% of salary up to £2,500 pm for those who are unable to work or there is no work available.

On a positive note…

There is help out there and more help is coming

Your adviser is aware of the different support which is available, so do not hesitate to contact them if you need help or guidance for you and your family.

We’ve been going for 30 years. We’re not stopping now