In the high-speed world we live in, many of the traditions and norms from the past have gone out the window. Negative interest rates and negative oil prices have been driven by various factors, including technology, demography and politics.
The internet is an unprecedented disruptor and we can now connect at the touch of a button, instantly sending messages anywhere and getting replies within seconds or minutes.
Internet-based firms are changing the nature of modern business. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are reaching across the world and taking market share. Old-economy firms have to develop sensible internet strategies or get left behind.
Investors must adapt to make sure they have exposure to the technology winners of the future, rather than the former winners of the past.
You don’t have to be an eco-warrior to know that ESG issues and ESG investing is rapidly becoming the norm. Taking ESG into account can help investors make better decisions. Well-governed firms and countries tend to beat dodgy counterparts. An environmental focus can highlight portfolio risks such as extreme weather or stranded fossil fuel assets. Managers and investors who do not take ESG into account will look increasingly out of touch.
The range of opportunities available to investors has become enormous over the last 20 years. There are long lists of stocks, bonds, funds, options and futures, or you could even dabble in hedge funds, art or whisky.
Don’t be fooled. Many of these opportunities are flawed. Some charge high fees and will not deliver in the long run (most hedge funds). Some try to cash in on the latest craze, when the underlying assets have not shown their value over many decades and business cycles (Art).
Most investors are better off sticking to simple investments and products that are easily understood and have proved themselves in different markets.