Don’t Panic. It’s only March.

Don't Panic. It’s only March.

The markets might be down and it might be a little bit scary, but we’re here to remind you that downturns in markets are just part and parcel of being an investor. This month’s blog is going to explain what a downturn is, what causes them, and what you should do when one occurs. Most importantly we’re going to try to reassure you that it’s nothing to panic about, after all, it’s only March and there’s still a little bit of summer to be enjoyed.

What is a downturn and what causes them?

To summarise it, a downturn is a decline in the economy which generally adversely impacts investments. For a lot of young investors, this downturn will be causing nerves, because it will be the first one they’ve experienced in their time in the market. A few nerves are natural, but understanding what causes a dip, and accepting that they’re a natural part of investing, can help to alleviate the butterflies.

So why does a market dip? The truth is there is very rarely one single reason or clear cut explanation as to why a market turns. More often than not it’s due to a combination of reasons; things like war and other environmental factors, increases in inflation, changes to OCRs, reductions of artificial stimulus and other factors can all contribute.

What all of the above have in common is that they are either based on or generate uncertainty. Uncertainty in turn effectively reduces confidence in the market and the market enters a period of downturn. In the case of the most recent downturn, we think the biggest contributing factors are a high inflation rate that has led to higher than expected interest rates, reduced stimulus from central banks, the political uncertainty stemming from the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing effects of the Omicron outbreak.

So, although it may seem scary when you see your investments are down rest assured that the dip is caused by very real and tangible factors that can be understood and therefore managed.

So what should you do during a downturn?

When trying to figure out what to do in the present a good place to start looking for answers is in the past. Historically investors are fast to react when uncertainty creeps in, but confidence has always returned, and usually quickly, once the initial scare has passed. The reality is markets tend to recover quickly from these types of downturns.

Take COVID-19 as an example; when it first appeared the market spooked, but confidence returned as people realised that life was going to go on. A lot of the people who did panic reacted impulsively and ignored their long term strategies. They did things like shifting their Kiwisavers from growth funds to conservative funds, therefore locking in their losses and missing any potential for a bounce-back off a recovering market (which actually occurred in the same year!)

So, the first and most important thing to do during a downturn is to ask yourself what your investment strategy is. Make yourself pause and consider how long you’re willing to invest for, what you are investing in and the resources you have assigned to those investments. If you’re playing a long term game, and we generally suggest you do, then you need to accept that dips in your investments are always going to be part and parcel of a long term strategy. If you don’t panic and change your strategy the long term growth will usually always exceed the short term losses when viewed over a long enough period.

Just take a look at the bigger picture (literally!)

With new CCCFA rules having landed this is a question we get all the time. If you’re not familiar with what the CCCFA rules are it’s worth reading our previous blog to familiarise yourself as these rules have dramatically changed the bank’s attitudes to lending money.

The banks are now almost forensic in their examination of the accounts and spending habits of people looking to borrow money. The reality is that if you want to borrow money you’ll need to ensure that your bank statements are clean for a minimum of three months. This means reducing any spending that may be seen as frivolous by the bank. Things like takeaways, nights out, retail spending etc will need to be managed tightly before your application to give you the best chance of success.

This level of financial interrogation has seen the number of accepted mortgage applications fall by 25% which has led some experts, including us, to argue that these rules have gone too far and are too invasive and prohibitive to be realistic in the long run. To put it quite simply we don’t think that you should be punished by a bank because you’ve decided to have a three-piece quarter pack after a really tough day at work, especially in an economy that will require consumer spending to keep moving.

1 month view

5 year view

And remember, there are always opportunities

One of the most legendary investors of our times once said in his Chairman’s letter to be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” The meaning behind Warren Buffett’s infamous line has been argued many different ways, but one take is that a period of downturn or instability often presents opportunity. This opportunity arises because otherwise solid investments experience a dip in price due to the downturn in the market giving the savvy investor the chance to build them into their portfolios at a discount.

Take the recent downturn as an example; twelve months ago investors were being “greedy” as they invested in a market on its way up. Now the market has dipped these once “greedy” investors have become “fearful”, and as such the cost of some investments have dipped meaning the canny investor can purchase great investments at a discounted cost.

The danger with this strategy is when people buy with the intention of making a quick buck, we are not advocating this approach at all. Instead, we are arguing that the opportunity exists to buy solid investments with sound track-records that are going to survive the downturn and add long term value to your portfolio.

This strategy makes the most sense when applied alongside Mr Buffet’s most famous quote; “someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” This quote reflects on the value Warren Buffet sees in a long term strategy. So the smartest investors will be those who apply a long term strstegy, rather than looking at share investing as a way to make money quick. At the time of writing, this investor has stuck to his long term strategy while also purchasing additional stocks, at a discount, in some of the largest companies and funds in the world.

Still have a few butterflies?

If you’re still concerned, worried or confused about the recent dip in the market, or if you’re finding yourself tempted to change your investment strategy please just give us a call on 0800 888 482. We’re here to help you get ahead financially, and sometimes all it can take is a chat to lend confidence, a few tweaks to your portfolio or a little more information so you can make the most informed decisions.

Inflation, the new CCCFA rules and how best to apply for a loan

Welcome to 2022!

We’re back in the office and ready to roll into the New Year. We hope you’ve had a chance to refresh and energise because there’s a big year coming up and plenty of opportunities to get ahead financially.

We thought we’d kick the year off by looking at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2022. We’ll touch on inflation and what it means for Kiwis. We’ll look at how best to apply for a loan with the banks now in full forensic mode thanks to the new CCCFA rules. Finally, we’ll talk about the chances of property prices levelling off and our thoughts on preparing for if they do.

It may all sound a bit scary but it’s worth remembering that with change comes opportunity, and we believe that with some smart planning you can not only protect yourself and even get ahead this year.

Inflation is on the up and up and up and up…

Unless you’ve been holidaying on a private island with no internet, radio or TV then you’ve probably heard all the talk about inflation.

It’s an important subject because inflation is the reduction of purchasing power of a currency. That is to say, the New Zealand dollar now buys fewer products or services than it did at the same time last year. In fact, it’s the biggest increase in consumer inflation that New Zealand has seen since 1987. The knock-on effect is that everything becomes more expensive as inflation rises, and we mean everything; from a bottle of milk to the interest payments you’re paying on your mortgage.

The question then becomes why has it happened?

The answer is long and quite complex, but to summarise briefly the below factors conspired to drive higher levels of inflation in our economy:

  • The government pumped money into the economy in the form of grants due to the prediction of a recession.

  • The economy actually continued to power on and no major recession occurred.

  • Asset prices rose.

  • There was strong demand but the reduced supply of products and services.

  • There were labour shortages.

We’re predicting that inflation is likely to continue to rise throughout the year, but there is an upside for those people who have been cautious while times have been good. When inflation rises the unfortunate reality is that some people who have overextended themselves may have to reduce their debt, this provides opportunities for people who aren’t in this position to acquire consumer goods, investments and even property at discounted rates.

CSI: NZ Banks. How to get a loan in 2022?

With new CCCFA rules having landed this is a question we get all the time. If you’re not familiar with what the CCCFA rules are it’s worth reading our previous blog to familiarise yourself as these rules have dramatically changed the bank’s attitudes to lending money.

The banks are now almost forensic in their examination of the accounts and spending habits of people looking to borrow money. The reality is that if you want to borrow money you’ll need to ensure that your bank statements are clean for a minimum of three months. This means reducing any spending that may be seen as frivolous by the bank. Things like takeaways, nights out, retail spending etc will need to be managed tightly before your application to give you the best chance of success.

This level of financial interrogation has seen the number of accepted mortgage applications fall by 25% which has led some experts, including us, to argue that these rules have gone too far and are too invasive and prohibitive to be realistic in the long run. To put it quite simply we don’t think that you should be punished by a bank because you’ve decided to have a three-piece quarter pack after a really tough day at work, especially in an economy that will require consumer spending to keep moving.

Banks are now using your previous spending habits to establish a pattern.

But the harsh reality is that banks are now using your previous spending habits to establish a pattern. They are trying to answer the question as to if you can pay your mortgage and bills if interest rates go up. They are taking any expenditure in the last three months from your statements and basically saying that you will always continue to spend like this even if interest rates do rise and therefore you may not be eligible for a loan. 

The reason we think this is so silly is that most people are capable of budgeting out their wages or salary to pay their bills. Most people will naturally reduce their spending on nice to haves if they need to spend that money on more important things like bills or a mortgage. People are grownups and as such can budget and prioritise, the CCCFA rules, however, are making banks treat grownups like children and that is where they go too far. 

There is good news though; if you are looking to apply for a mortgage for a first home there is the chance that you’ll face less competition if you can successfully get the loan. There are also some really basic things you can do to ensure you have the best chance of succeeding in your application. Give us a call as we deal with this challenge every day, and we can give you some tips and help you navigate this more complex process.

Will the property market finally cool in 2022?

This is another question that we have been bombarded with recently. The media has begun to speculate that 2022 might finally be the year house prices cool off in New Zealand and lots of people are asking whether this is true. 

We’d begin by saying that we’re always hesitant to make a definitive call on this question as we’ve seen dozens of commentators with egg on their faces. These commentators boldly claim house price rises are unsustainable and that a “sharp correction” is imminent only to find that in the months following house prices continue to boom. What we would say however is that this year it’s looking far more likely than at any other time in the last decade. This is due to several factors:

  • The new CCCFA rules reducing the number of new homebuyers in the market.
  • Inflation driving up interest rates causing some people to hold off buying while others struggle to service their levels of debt.
  • The long tail of Covid that’s at best unpredictable given the contagious nature of the Omnicron. 

So back to the question; will house prices level off in 2022? The short answer is maybe. The long answer is that if they do and you’re a first home buyer, an investor, or just looking to upsize then now is the best time to get your finances in order. This will ensure that you are ready to pounce and take advantage of any great deals or opportunities as they present themselves.

Here’s to a big year

As we said upfront there are lots of changes, challenges, but most importantly opportunities on the horizon in 2022. We know how scary a year like this may seem but we’d encourage anyone reading this to consider how exciting it could be too. 

If you have any worries about your finances after reading this we’d love you to drop us an email or give us a call so we can chat about how can help. On the flip side if you’re interested in getting ahead this year we’d equally love to hear from you. 

We’re looking forward to getting stuck into the new year and we hope to hear from you soon. 

Cheers,

The Money Men