What are the Best Sectors to Invest in the UK Stock Market Now 2020?

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |UK Stock Market|What are the Best Sectors to Invest in the UK Stock Market Now 2020?There’s no doubt that global stocks have endured a difficult time in 2020, largely on the back of the coronavirus outbreak.

The categorisation of Covid-19 as a global pandemic certainly sent shockwaves throughout the global marketplace, with the FTSE 100 crashing by a third from a peak of 7,634 in mid-January to below 5,000 on March 23rd.

Despite a subsequent and sustained rebound throughout Q2 and Q3, experts are now predicting a steep correction and further crash as the threat of a second wave of infections rises throughout the world. With this in mind, what are the best sectors to invest in and why are they poised to deliver a viable return?

Why are Stock Options Still Viable in 2020?

In simple terms, the stock market crash of March undermined and devalued a number of high-profile shares, without challenging their status or profitability in the long-term.

This trend was best observed amongst tech stocks, with relevant indexes such as the Nasdaq Composite tumbling by more than 4% recently and yet to scale their pre-pandemic highs. The S&P 500 also declined by 2.8% last week, as tech stocks faltered and saw their value proposition falter.

Despite this, the big-tech market and its individual stocks are fundamentally strong and well-established, which means that such equities will once again grow in value once normal market conditions are restored.

This creates a small but tangible window of opportunity for investors to buy variable cap stocks at a significantly reduced price, before selling these on for a profit in the future.

Sectors and Caps – Picking the Right Investments

Of course, not all sectors and markets have been created equal, which is why some have performed significantly better than others during the last six months.

For example, supermarkets and e-commerce brands have achieved huge growth since the start of the pandemic, with the virus thought to have added £5.3 billion to online sales in 2020 so far. Both of these of these sectors are also poised to deliver growth in the long-term too, so they’re ideal for investors with a more patient outlook.

Some technology markets have also thrived during the coronavirus outbreak, particularly those based in remote communication. Take Zoom, for example, which has forecast a potential 300% revenue increase in 2020 and represents the ideal short-term option.

Beyond this, you may also decide that midcap stocks are ideally suited to the current investment climate, with these entities having performed demonstrably better than others since the FTSE 100 crash on March 23rd.

This is part of a wider and more historic trend too, with dedicated research showcasing that midcap stocks have also performed consistently better than others during periods of ‘systematic risk’ since the mid-1990s.

As a result of this, investing in mid-cap stocks (which boast an average market cap of between £2 billion and £10 billion) is a great way of optimising profits and minimising risk during significant peaks and troughs.

Choosing Equity Funds Over Indices and Individual Stocks

One of the best ways to target mid-cap stocks is through an equity fund, which offers considerably less risk and higher potential profits than both indices and individual shares.

The reason for this is simple; as such funds are naturally diverse and feature multiple holdings from an array of carefully selected markets, while they’re also carefully managed and directed by skilled managers such as Downing’s Rosemary Banyard.

With this example, you can also access a fund that’s focused primarily on small and mid-cap stocks, while simultaneously targeting UK stocks that are capable of delivering sustained and tangible returns.

Of course, the key is to identify the right equity fund to suit your risk profile and outlook, while also seeking out an option that’s tailored to your profit expectations.

How businesses can benefit from green tech investments

StrategyDriven editorial perspective Article |Green Tech|How businesses can benefit from green tech investmentsAs the focus on the environment continues to grow, businesses are now seeking out ways to adopt eco-friendlier practices. But green technologies can actually offer benefits to businesses as well as the planet, and the great news is that there are several options for companies to choose from.

From remote working to digital tools, here are a few of the ways that businesses can benefit from green tech investments.

Solar panels

Solar energy is one of the best investments you can make for your business. It powers the entire building and during peak generating times, it can even make money back! According to Geo Green Power, specialists in large-scale commercial solar panel arrays, generating your own solar energy will significantly reduce your carbon footprint, increase your company’s sustainable credentials and improve your business reputation.

It’s a great way of ensuring your business is more environmentally-friendly for the foreseeable future and can help to cut down energy costs too.

Wind turbines

If your business is located in a windy area, and there’s enough space to house them, wind energy is a great renewable source that has the potential to power entire businesses. There’s a huge amount of electricity which can be generated from a wind turbine, even if a smaller commercial windmill is chosen.

Small windmills have a power rating of up to 5kW which can generate up to 13Mwh a year – this is plenty to cover the energy needs of up to four average-sized homes or a business with the same-sized premises. Have the space for a larger wind turbine? This could be enough to generate power for a warehouse or packing facility.

Cloud computing

Businesses can make the most of cloud computing which helps to reduce wasted office space on large servers. Cloud computing also reduces the environmental resources required to keep servers running, such as server-farm cooling systems, which will reduce your business’ environmental impact and improve efficiency.

With cloud providers such as Amazon and Google running such efficient systems, there will be very little impact to your business in terms of the operational processes.

Remote working technology

Remote working is something that many workers have had to adapt to in 2020, but it’s actually the greener choice. By making the most of technologies such as collaboration tools, communication software and cloud platforms, staff can continue to work as efficiently as if they were in the office, without the need for commuting.

In addition to removing the commute for all members of staff, remote working also removes the need for a physical office and the many costs that come with that.

Green data centres

Data centres account for a huge amount of electricity each year, which results in vast amounts of fossil fuels being used to keep businesses running. But they also play an important role in the economy and are essential to businesses in today’s digital climate.

Companies can actually continue to make use of data centres while still reducing their carbon footprint by switching to hosting sites and applications in green data centres, which make the most of renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels.

Go paper-free

We all know the importance of reducing our waste and that’s particularly important in businesses where paper documents and marketing materials can quickly build up. Switching to a unified communication system is a great way of helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and benefit the planet, while also saving money.
There are numerous tools and applications available now to create a streamlined communication system for businesses, from sharing documents in a paper-free way to storing files and information securely online instead of in paper form. Digital storage features don’t just benefit the planet by reducing waste and the need for paper, but they also ensure that information is easily accessible and safer from the risk of data theft or physical damage.

Final thoughts

Technology has the ability to provide innovative solutions to the environmental crisis, while also benefitting businesses in terms of convenience, efficiency and cost. From cloud computing to communication software and taking advantage of the ability to work from anywhere in the world successfully, businesses can become more sustainable without it impacting their productivity in a negative way.

How covid has impacted business in the Philippines

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Business in the Philippines|How covid has impacted business in the PhilippinesAsia has become well-versed in dealing with financial crises over the course of the last 50 years or so, from the oil crash of 1973 to the so-called ‘Asian Contagion’ of 1997.

The latter saw a sequence of currency devaluations and after the Thai government reversed the decisions to peg the local currency to the USD, which also triggered stock market declines and reduced import revenues.

This also sent real GDP growth tumbling to a little over 1% (1.3%)overall, which was considerably lower than during the aforementioned oil crash and the great recession of 2008 (against which Asia was relatively well-insulated).

But where will the fallout from Covid-19 rank against similar crises, and how has business been particularly impacted on the Philippines?

Comparing Crisis and the Wider Impact of Covid-19

The fallout from the Asian Contagion and stock market crash of 1997 was considerable, but the latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests this years’ coronavirus-related decline will be even more damaging to the economy.

More specifically, growth in Asia as a whole is expected to stall at zero percent by the end of 2020, confirming the worst economic performance in nearly 60 years.

This will plunge growth levels well below the overall international average, creating an outlook that’s relatively bleak by both contemporary and historic comparisons.

That said, the forecasted slowdown in some Asian nations is slightly smaller than the expected contractions in the US and Europe, where the economies may ultimately shrink by 6% and 6.6% respectively.

Conversely, China’s growth is projected to decline by 4.9% in the year ending December 2020, tumbling from 6.1% in 2019 to just 1.2%. This is slightly better than some nations in the west, and it provides genuine hope that other nations in Asian can follow the trail blazed by China in terms of achieving better-than-expected economic performance.

Appraising the Impact on the Philippines

The Philippines entered a technical recession during Q2, after recording its worst economic growth since a major downturn in 1981.

According to the recent data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the nation’s GDP growth rate declined by a whopping 16.5% during the second quarter of 2020.

Overall, there’s even a risk that the Philippines could enter negative growth territory for 2020 as a whole, with minimal growth of just 3% recorded in Q1 and a further (albeit significantly smaller) contraction forecast for Q3. This contrasts starkly with the annualised performance over the course of the last five years, which has delivered average growth of around 6% during this period.

However, there’s some cause for optimism in the country, particularly after the island of Luzon (which accounts for 70% of the nation’s GDP) reopened for domestic travellers. Sure, this increases the risk of a second coronavirus spike, but it also reopens the national economy and improves the prospect for businesses and households alike.

The surprising resilience of the Philippines peso has also helped to prop-up economic sentiment, remaining one of the few emerging currencies to strengthen against the USD in 2020.

This is also indicative of a deceptively robust economy, and one that has the potential to rebound quickly from coronavirus in the future.

How Can the Travel Industry Overcome the Impact of COVID?

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Travel Industry|How Can the Travel Industry Overcome the Impact of COVID?One of the hardest hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic has been travel and tourism. Whether it’s regularly for business or to get away on a summer holiday, we’ve all been unable to venture to where we need or want to as a result of major travel restrictions.
Many of the large corporations have been hit hard, with British Airways announcing they will be cutting up to 12,000 jobs, EasyJet around 4,500 and Virgin Atlantic 3,000, these businesses will need to put plans in place as a matter of urgency to ensure the continuation of their operations.

A major impact faced by all

It’s not only flights leaving the country that have been affected – inbound travel has also seen a huge blow. Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Patricia Yates, Chief Executive Officer of VisitBritain commented “So for inbound, I mean we were looking at the beginning of this year at about £26.6bn coming from inbound tourism, we reckon a £15bn drop on that.”

So far the industry has lot the benefit of the two bank holidays in May and a lot of the school half term periods as well. With the hopes of an additional bank holiday in October, the industry will be keeping its fingers firmly crossed that some of the restrictions have been lifted, or at least some further guidance in place.

What are the challenges that travel businesses have faced?

Aside from the obvious restrictions that were implemented during the lockdown period, many businesses are facing the reality that people may be too scared or anxious to travel just yet. Organisations now face an ever growing challenge of convincing people that it’s socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday once again, and that where they are visiting has put all the necessary precautions and procedures in place.

Hotels, campsites and other hospitality facilities also have a mountain to climb. With new rules and regulations to help protect their guests, many have had to spend large amounts of money to ensure they are Covid compliant. Because of these great expenses, some are facing crippling debts and the possibility of redundancies to ensure they can stay afloat.

What are the best solutions for the travel industry?

The World Travel and Tourism Council reported that up to 50 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk around the world as a result of the pandemic. Although we are in uncharted territory, there are a number of solutions businesses could introduce to help them weather the storm.

One of the major but potentially very beneficial options is for businesses to restructure. This will help them to become more streamline, thus freeing up money to help them keep the lights on so to speak. Specialist organisations such as RSM Global, who have key experience in situations like this are on hand to help businesses plan and implement their long-term survival strategy.

No matter what the future holds, we all need to adapt to survive if we’re to overcome what the coronavirus has thrown at us.

COVID-19, Manufacturing Skills Gap and the Connected Worker

StrategyDriven StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Connected Worker|COVID-19, Manufacturing Skills Gap and the Connected WorkerBy 2050, the world population is estimated to grow from 7.6 billion to 9.6 billion. This growing population will boost consumer demand across all industries. From construction, to food & beverage, to life sciences, oil & gas, and many more industries. This growing demand means that we expect to see investments into production and manufacturing facilities, creation of many new jobs and a positive impact to the economy. Ultimately this positive impact will lead to hiring of many new front-line workers to support these operations.

These new opportunities create new sets of challenges in the COVID-19 Era. In this blog, I will highlight four challenges that business operations will face to keep their operations running.

  • Digital Natives – The New “Front-Line” Worker – While the above growth in population is the good news, the bad news is that many of these new front-line workers are born digital natives. They expect everything digital in their life and we expect to see a talent war with these new front-line workers having a choice in where they choose to work. The new front-line workers will be expected to perform highly complex jobs and processes with minimal human interactions in the COVID-19 Era. Big, fat binders, walkie-talkies and pages of work instructions will no longer even be an option. Availability of experts to hand-hold these front-line workers is also rapidly diminishing and with COVID-19, it even makes things harder to keep machines running and spare parts available at the right time and at the right place.
  • Disappearance of Tribal Knowledge – The tribal knowledge that exists with your expert front-line workers is expected to disappear in relatively short time. The average age of front-line workers is at 44.1 years and it’s estimated that these workers will soon start to leave the workplace, creating a huge skills gap and tribal knowledge disappearance. This aging workforce, coupled with a tight labor market, has resulted in critical skills and talent gaps impacting the ability of asset-intensive industries to recruit, train and retain a workforce with suitable competencies. The Manufacturing Institute estimates that because of the skills gap 2.4 million job openings in manufacturing will likely go unfilled through 2028, representing half of all open positions.
  • Shrinking Profit Margins – The growing pressure on profit margins and talent challenges is felt across all asset-intensive industries, such as CPG, Life Sciences, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Mining & Metals, Chemicals, and Industrial Manufacturing. This pressure doesn’t just stem from the rising cost of people; these industries are facing increasing demand from customers to deliver higher value for a lower cost.
  • Worker Safety – During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen many business operations grind to a complete standstill, impacting production and revenue streams. New safety procedures, risk assessments and contact tracking will become an integral part of running an operation without interruption. Practicing “Social Distancing” requires context of worker health and their location within a plant or a site. The old ways of working and implementing standard operating procedures on paper will not work in the COVID-19 Era.

Recently Forbes wrote an article asking, “Is now the moment for the connected worker platform?” It’s very critical for companies to start thinking about a “Connected Worker” strategy in the COVID-19 era. Companies need to start thinking of how digital transformation can help them combat these macro trends and challenges. Simply delivering a mobile app for your front-line worker is not the right solution.

You need to be thinking of a connected worker strategy that puts your front-line worker at the center of all your disparate systems and they are converted into a “Connected Worker.” The definition of a “Connected Worker” is to converge different technology trends such as Cloud, mobile, web, chat, social, wearables, AI/ML, and more to change the entire working life of your front-line worker. As a simple example, it’s important that you not only think of enabling your front-line workers with important ERP operational data, but also empower them with step-by-step guided work instructions that help them get the job done faster, better, cheaper and safer.

You also need to be thinking about the growing population from 7.6B to 9.6B and the consumer demand. If you are not already thinking about bridging the skills gap between a new front-line worker and an experienced front-line worker, you may soon end up in an operational crisis that may impact your production and revenue streams.

Best-in-class Connected Worker Platforms will offer you the technology for experts to guide new front-line workers remotely. We expect to see a trend where more and more expert workers will be used to help four to five new front-line workers from the comfort of their homes. Remote guided assistance and over the shoulder coaching with smart glasses and a two-way video conferencing experience will not just be a “cool technology,” but will be a necessity in the next two to five years.

Connected Worker Platforms appeal to younger front-line workers, who are “digital natives” and comfortable with mobile technology. Such platforms also help industrial plants successfully solve shrinking profit margin challenges, skills gaps, tribal knowledge loss and worker safety issues. For these reasons, a Connected Worker Platform will soon be a necessity for manufacturing and industrial facilities.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Sundeep RavandeSundeep Ravande is the CEO of Innovapptive Inc. and believes in a better way of running plant based operations. In most enterprises, operations are a set of tedious linear steps – slow, inaccurate and highly inefficient. Sundeep believes in a world where field work can be done faster, cheaper and safer. He envisions Innovapptive to be at the center of all plant-based conversations between humans, machines and workflows. By digitally and autonomously connecting humans, machines, and workflows in the 21st Century Economy, Sundeep aims to create a “Connected Workforce” experience for 11 million field workers across the globe. Prior to co-founding Innovapptive Inc, Sundeep worked with several Big 5 consulting firms, such as IBM & Accenture, serving several Fortune 500 clients such as Verizon, Shell, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Coca-Cola and FMC Corporation to help them re-invent and re-imagine their business operations with digital technologies.