This is not the sort of note that I would typically post, but in a matter of only days, times have changed more than any of us could have believed possible. We will continue to post market and economic updates here over the coming days and weeks, but on this occasion, I want to give you my reflection on a very different start to 2020.

As we draw to the close of the final day of our first quarter, I find myself reflecting on our previous business planning and the first couple of months of the year.

While in January and February, COVID-19 had gained some prominence, it appeared to be “somebody else’s problem”, and the worry seemed to be the impact it would have on China’s growth and therefore the stock markets.

During my career, I have worked through some very turbulent times, from Black Monday to the 2008 financial crisis. These were, however, financial and economic incidents and as such could, to some extent, be mitigated.

As I sit at my desk looking out on deserted roads and fields, I ponder why the country wasn’t more prepared for the juggernaut that was hurtling towards us. Only weeks ago, it seemed inconceivable that our planet would go into isolation and that governments around the world would have to implement economic bailouts that dwarf anything in history (and doing this in only a matter of hours).

The difference, I realise, is that this is a “first world human disaster” on a scale never seen, and it threatens to overwhelm the best healthcare services in the world. Life is a requirement to enjoy economic benefits, while the reverse is not true.

If there are positives to be drawn here, they certainly include the confirmation that we are human, and that each person around us does matter. As suddenly the merry go round stops, I realise how lucky I am and many others around me are. One member of my family is on the front line working in a care home, and another is home alone as her husband resides in a care home following a stroke.

There have been numerous heart-warming reports covered in the press. We most certainly need to continue supporting our NHS. Seeing these heroes putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we can get through this is truly humbling. We should all show our gratitude both now and after this epidemic.

While by no means providing the human assistance of public “key workers”, I want to thank and commend my team and our key partners who are working hard under demanding circumstances to maintain the services our clients have come to expect. I would also extend this to our clients who continue to support our business. This is very much appreciated.

And, as a final thought, as the goats invade the deserted streets of Llandudno and fish swim in the canals of Venice, we should all understand that Mother Nature remains a potent force.

Stay safe and healthy,