In June 2014, we held an in-house investment conference on disruptive technologies. With insight from external speakers from technology companies, investment strategists and specialist fund managers, we considered how technology will change how we live and how these changes might affect investors. It was a fascinating day.
Personalised medicine will disrupt every part of the healthcare sector, from R&D and clinical trials, through diagnostic testing to regulation and healthcare provision (whether insurance-based or through national systems, such as the NHS). This will be driven by economics and improved medical outcomes. A key challenge will be the storage and analysis of huge quantities of patient data.
Automation: If the machines aren't coming for your jobs, are they coming for your investment returns?
Despite alarmist media reports, the risk to most jobs from automation is low for the foreseeable future — we tend to an optimistic view of mankind’s ability to respond to technological disruption. Nonetheless, certain segments of mid-skill workers may be vulnerable and politicians will need to address the impact on standards of living.
Through advances in battery storage technology, we are on the cusp of major changes for electric vehicles and alternative energy. These are likely to be disruptive to utilities — with the ability for homes to go ‘off grid’ — and car manufacturers. Less reliance on fossil fuel consumption could have significant geopolitical implications.
Blockchain offers an alternative to many record-based transactions, from money transfers and asset custody to ‘know your client’ checks, healthcare records and music downloading. It would release huge cost savings and create additional value, but could negatively impact employment levels. Otherwise, transaction times are likely to be reduced.
Stock markets continue to take an optimistic view of the risks to future earnings, but we remain gently cautious and note that there are plenty of reasons not to be complacent.
The probability of a hard Brexit is very much higher now than it was immediately after the referendum, despite a rumoured eleventh hour softening of May's tone ahead of Wednesday's invocation of Article 50.
Many cohabiting couples rely on the notion of “common law marriage” to tidy up their legal and financial affairs in the event of a relationship breakdown. In fact, at least at present, there is no such thing. What are the potential implications of this misconception? And how might cohabitees best formalise and protect their respective interests?
The UK’s family businesses are a crucial part of the nation’s economic backbone. They employ nearly 12 million people, contribute £125 billion in taxes and generate a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. Yet for many, long-term survival boils down to a problem that has little to do with business acumen: how to ensure close relatives get on with each other.