What a Difference a Year Makes

Firstly, we hope that this message finds you well and making the best of our challenging times.

It’s been a little while since our last post, so felt that a gentle reflection on where we are right now, and some thoughts about future outcomes would be appropriate.

At the beginning of 2021, we find the United States of America under new management and with a fundamentally different agenda from the previous administration.

An immediate focus on climate change is an encouraging sign, but there is no doubt President Biden has his work cut-out to build back America’s place in the World.

In the UK, we are in yet another lock-down situation, but the COVID-19 vaccination program is well under way, albeit there are varying levels of roll-out across the country.

This website is a very interesting look at all statistics you might ever want to know about Coronavirus.


Judging by the conversations with our clients around the performance of their investments, we feel that whilst the market continue to show some levels of volatility, overall performance has been steady.

Our long-term buy and hold philosophy seems to have been borne out, in fact largely by being patient, not panicking and making knee jerk reactions through the pandemic, we have benefited, meaning that portfolios and savings are in good shape.

We’ve also seen an “uncoupling” of the markets from the wider economy as Government around the World are seen as the lender of last resort, and willing to shoulder the fiscal burden of the Pandemic.

There is an element of “kicking the can” down the road however, as we increase borrowing and how and when this might be resolved or come back to bite us, is very much an unknown.

Technology has allowed the business to function as normal (without the cup of coffee!), and we see this continuing for a some time to come.

More clients than ever have signed up for our Personal Financial Portal (PFP), and we’re are encouraged that it’s working well

Finally, we recognise that having a robust financial plan in place has given many people the comfort and security they need right now, and we look forward to catching up with you all over the coming months.

Roland, Niki and Jonathan


Covid concerns – Should I access my pension fund now?

Covid Concerns – Should I access my pension fund now?

The UK is on the brink of a severe recession, with job losses and cashflow concerns for a large proportion of the country.

You may be thinking of the need to access some of your savings to alleviate large short term worries.  What a lot of people however are not aware of, is the fact that by using your pension savings to plug this gap, may mean that you are not able to utilise this vehicle to save again when the time arises.

Currently, anyone over 55 who makes a taxable withdrawal (not the 25% tax free cash allowance) from their pension will find that their annual allowance for this year and future years will be lowered from £40,000 to just £4,000 as a result of the triggering of money purchase annual allowance (MPAA).

This is a relatively new rule that was brought in 5 years ago with the introduction of ‘pension freedoms’ with an initial £10,000 limit, however it was reduced to £4,000 in 2017.  If the MPAA is triggered future contributions to your pension savings in excess of £4,000 per annum will face a tax charge.

The reasons for accessing taxable income from your pension could be for a variety of reasons like replacing lost income from employment or potentially taking extra income out to help a younger relative pay their bills. Regardless of the circumstances, currently the MPAA is applied indiscriminately and permanently.

If a 90% cut in the annual pension allowance was not bad enough, triggering the MPAA also means you lose the ability to carry forward any unused allowances from the three previous tax years in the current tax year. So, someone making a one-off decision to access taxable income from their pension during the current crisis could in fact reduce the amount they can save in the future into a pension in the current tax year from £160,000 to £4,000.

If you feel that you may still wish to make contributions to your pension savings in the future either personally or through an employer, accessing taxable cash just now may not be the most ideal solution.

I am not saying for one moment that in the current times using your pension to ease cashflow worries is to be completely avoided, however knowing all the ramifications of these decisions is of huge importance.

If you have other forms of savings available like ISAs or bonds, these may not have penalties, or taxation regimes which are quite as strict. It is important to make decisions of this nature with your eyes wide open and with all available knowledge at hand, and not regret a decision made in haste.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you feel you would like to know more, or to discuss your options.  We are always available for a remote video conference.





They say a week is a long time in politics and that maybe true, but a week cooped-up in your house goes by very rapidly!

I hope that everyone is well and coping with the huge change in circumstances.

Following on from last week’s update I wanted to share a few things that I notice and picked up during the week from both business point of view and from a personal standpoint.

Earlier on the week, I attended a webinar that was set up by my accountant Chris Thomas and an HR consultant, Ian Pilbeam.

It was a very informative and in-depth look at the government’s response to the coronavirus situation and in particular the job retention scheme and the new business grant scheme.

It struck me that the government has acted quickly, and the amount and detail produced in such a short time was quite incredible. It was also clear that there are many hoops to jump through in order to obtain much needed money to keep businesses afloat.

If anyone would like more information on these subjects, please give me a call on my usual number.

I’m also very pleased and delighted at the speed on which my local village and community have acted to get together and create various WhatsApp groups – there has been great deal of sharing of ideas, services and help for each other – even puzzles and jokes!

It’s nice to see people coming together in this difficult time.

Information is Beautiful

I picked this graph up on my travels this week and thought it was I’m very good visual representation of where we are with COVID-19 right now.

I previously posted this in LinkedIn and thought it was worth including again here not to scare people, but to take the positives from the recoveries and the number of people who are classed as having it in a mild form.

I also referenced the Stockdale Paradox in another LinkedIn post and again I attach the link to this to as I think it is most relevant today.



The Great Jigsaw Update

I was pleased by the many responses I got around progress on the World’s hardest jigsaw last week, so here’s this weeks update…

Firstly, my daughter has totally lost interest in favour of something called Instagram. Can’t think why, and secondly, I was reduced to using a mallet to try and hammer vaguely matching pieces together to alleviate my frustrations!

Anyway, here’s progress of sorts.



Zoom Meetings

As previously posted, the office is currently closed, much like everywhere else in the country…

We are still however very much open for continued dialogue with all clients and contacts.

We have set up remote working, and are able to fully utilise video conferencing to allow us to conduct review meetings, and discuss any ongoing financial issues.

To set up a zoom meeting please email: nikki@oliverassetmgmt.co.uk

Although we wont be able to offer you a coffee, we will be able to offer the same service as you have come to expect with a full visual cashflow model, which should hopefully add more reassurance as we go through this tough period.

We look forward to speaking with you soon

Jonathan, Roland and Nikki.



Dear valued clients and customers of Oliver Asset Management

The situation in relation to the spread of Coronavirus is rapidly evolving.  We at Oliver Asset Management are aware that there is already likely to be an impact on your personal and professional lives.

I would like to let you know that we are always available to have a chat and offer some reassurance through this unprecedented time.

We have taken the decision to temporarily close the office and have initiated a business continuity plan of working from home for the time being, until we are advised to return to communal areas.

We have ways in which we are able to continue to offer services to the standard that you expect ,be it through the phone, or video conferencing via Skype or Zoom.

You can contact any of us on the office number which is diverted, or our mobiles below

Jonathan 07917 114 727

Roland 07870 185 726

You can also reach us on our usual email addresses.




Roland, Jonathan and Nikki


12th March 2020 – Market Volatility Concerns

Yesterday was very eventful, with the early morning news that the BOE reduced the base rate to 0.25%, accompanied by market volatility and afternoon budget announcements.

Overnight, the news from Trump to stop travel from the Schengen European countries to, and from America helped lead to further volatility and the FTSE, opening another 5% down, and at the time of writing is down 9%.

Given these exceptional circumstances, we thought at this time it would be prudent to communicate our thoughts.

Our belief is that long term investing is designed to tolerate short term volatility both up and down, and this is backed up by long term equity returns data.  Making knee jerk reactions at times like these often leads to a poorer investment experience.

Nevertheless, with the current news being dominated by headlines about the coronavirus and stock market falls, we fully understand any nervousness about the impact in the short-term on your investment portfolios.

It’s worth considering in the first instance as to when you might need your money; do you need it all right now or does it need to last you say, for the next thirty years?

It might also worthwhile to consider actual performance of a balanced portfolio over a range of periods to demonstrate how the effects of one year’s performance are diminished.

We have published data on the performance of all our portfolios on our website and we ask you to consider the best and worst numbers over the longer periods and you will see despite some short term volatility, the longer term averaged returns have tolerated those short term losses.


Performance Summary Statistics: 01/06/2009 – 31/01/2020

Date as of January 31st 2020.

Performance data shown represents past performance and is not a guarantee of future results.  Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance shown.


The attached article from Dimensional was written 2 weeks ago as the markets were in the early stages of reacting to the coronavirus reaching the wider world.  Whilst things have moved on in terms of volatility, the message still remains strong and relevant.


If you have any questions or would like to chat through your thoughts or concerns please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.


Roland, Jonathan and Nikki.



Coronavirus, and its impact on the markets

Its impossible to ignore the news surrounding the Coronovirus and its impact on a personal level, as well as the markets.

We have seen the FTSE in the UK face its largest weekly decline since the financial crisis, and Mark Carney has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a downgrade of the UK’s economic growth prospects.

Whilst we must be thoughtful of those impacted by the virus, we need to take stock and think about how we as long term investors must not make knee jerk reactions to negative news.

The following article from Dimensional gives good insight into the reasons for the current uncertainty, and also reasons to not let it consume your thoughts in regards to your own financial plan.


If you have any questions or concerns please do get in contact





Evidence Based Investing – Drowning out the Noise!!

In this blog I want to give you a quick overview of our investment beliefs at Oliver Asset Management, namely Evidence Based Investing.

Who are evidence based investors?

You may well have heard us mention Dimensional Fund Advisers in the past, but probably will not have seen them mentioned anywhere else.

They are the worlds 8th largest fund management company.  They don’t advertise (helping to keep costs low) and they manage and offer research exclusively to institutional investors and a select group of fee based advisers (including us at Oliver Asset Management).

What is evidence based investing?

Evidence based investing is based on a belief in the efficiency of the markets, and that the market is an effective information-processing machine.

Rather than attempting to predict the future or outguess others, information is drawn about expected returns from the market itself—using the collective knowledge of its millions of buyers and sellers as they set prices of shares.

By trusting markets to do what they do best—namely drive information into prices—Dimensional Fund Adviser’s time can be freed up to where they believe they have an advantage,  which is how they interpret their research. They take a less subjective, more systematic approach to investing—an approach they can implement consistently, and investors can understand and stick with, even when the markets seem challenging.

How do we use evidence based investing?

By using Dimensional research principals in conjunction with our investment partners, we are able to utilise low cost globally diversified portfolio’s with strong track records.

We stick to our principals in helping to educate and drown out the external noise from fund houses who claim to have the next big idea.  This in turn frees up our time to focus on what brings you value, like planning out and visualising your future, using our sophisticated cash flow modelling software.

Why use evidence based investing?

The reasons we believe in evidence based investing are numerous, and too long to fully implement into this blog, but in short….

Evidence tells us that trying to outguess and trying to time the market does not work in the long term, and selecting funds based on past performance is extremely unlikely to continually succeed.

Daily news sells on fear which can in turn challenge your investment discipline.  For example fear of a market crash, or fear of missing out on the next big idea.

By avoiding market timing and chasing the next expensive “star” fund manager, diversifying globally, taking control of costs and turnover, and tuning out the noise we can focus together on actions that will add value to your financial plan.

For more information please follow the link:


Where can you access evidence based investing?

Get in touch, or pop into our office for a coffee and we can chat through our thoughts with you.


Jonathan Beaton


Welcome to our new Website!

I’m delighted to introduce the latest version of our website – our 4th or 5th iteration if I remember correctly.

We’ve had great help from Rachael at Clooti and Bill at Wing Design in bringing this to life. They’ve be instrumental in helping us get the correct message about what we do across and how this has evolved over the last 12+ years. The journey has quite fascinating.

The aim of the business was always to provide the best financial guidance and planning that we could, but in the early days we were in a product-sales led rather than advice led environment.

We had a strong belief and conviction that there was a better way to provide a better experience and outcomes for our clients and that has led us to the approach we take today.

The tools, support, processes and systems were admittedly there, but you had to go digging to find them and work hard to implement them in the business process, but the feedback we were getting about what we doing for clients, convinced us it was the right thing to do.

It’s reassuring to see how many other financial planning firms now adopt a similar approach to us and have a client service ethos at the heart of their businesses.

Our new website reflects the distillation of what we’ve tried to do since the business started, and we aim to provide as much information and education on financial matters, regulations and taxation along with the latest thinking on smart investing as we can.

We hope that you find the new website a true reflection of what we are about as a business. We’d be delighted to hear any comments that you have and any ideas of items or ideas you’d like to see more of.

Roland Oliver
May 2019

On the golf course

Golf, Psychology & Andy Murray

OK, I’ve not blogged in a while and to ease myself back into the fray, a little light piece for openers.

We recently had a networking golf day at my own club Craigielaw and as part of the fun we had a sports psychologist talk to the group before playing our round.

He talked about the winning mind set displayed by top sports people and to help us perform better during our game of golf, he asked us to use the acronym WIN (What’s Important Now) as a way of focusing not on what had gone before or was to come, but the now.

The chat after the game was how much better people had played and that they attributed this in part to the WIN idea.

Our overall winner from the day was an ex-Liverpool and Scotland footballer who, despite advancing years, still has that mental edge and desire to win.

He scored over 50 Stableford points (yes over 50!) and had we been able to randomly drug test him, would probably tested positive for several banned horse steroids and supplements.

He knows who he is and the handicap committee has him firmly in their sights…

Anyway, the link to top performance and mental attitude is clear.

As so to our Andy.

I wonder how many times Andy Murray’s name has been mentioned around the collective water coolers of the UK?

An incredible result (only spoiled for me by Alex Salmond’s shameless posturing with the Saltire…) and an amazing display on mental control and desire to win which he’s carried with him all through his career.

He also showed patience beyond his years in dealing with quite simply some of the most fatuous interview questions ever posed.

During one sledgehammer attempt to subtly link a visiting Sir Alex Ferguson to his difficult semi-final encounter with Verdasco, the interviewer suggested he may be due the hairdryer treatment from Ivan Lendl after his performance.

“…But I pulled back a two sets deficit to win the game and wouldn’t deserve the hairdryer” was his succinct putdown.

It does seem the BBC still hankers after the golden era when Fred Perry was in his pomp and gentlemen quite rightly wore long trousers on court.

If you’ve tuned in to find some clever link between my ramblings and the current machinations in Financial Services, prepare for disappointment.

Roland Oliver

8th July 2013