Merry (if you squint a bit) Christmas from Kepstorn

All right, I’ll admit it, I did wonder if I should inflict my annual, rambling musings on the world but I decided to do my Christmas message this year to provide you with a link to my usual, hugely deserving cause (this year, even more so). If you want to stop here, this is the link:

St. Vincent’s Hospice

Please be generous. One of the “upsides” of the various, incessantly repeated versions of the “lockdown” is that people are, apparently, spending less money (I can’t say that I had noticed) but that may mean more for those deserving causes that rely upon our support.

What a bizarre year; what a stressful and distressing year; what a defining year. No one will ever have to think long and hard before remembering the exact year that something happened during the last twelve months. The usual “was that 1990 or 91? Perhaps 92?” will not occur when it is a 2020 memory. As with all memories, human nature does tend, after a while, to apply rose-tinted lenses to our view backwards. I can only hope that 2020 isn’t the exception that proves the rule.

There were small rays of light this year and we should hold onto those in the dark times to come (queue the “Harry Potter” theme tune!) and, hopefully, they will see us through to the fully-vaccinated, free trade future that we are all hoping for.

I don’t have any of my macro or micro economic insights this year – anything that I could say would not be insightful in the least. We have a national and global borrowing the like of which we have never seen. The closest approximations are the devastating after-effects of two world wars – at least we don’t have the rubble in the streets to clear, this time. The over-hang of debt is going to be a multi-generational effort to clear, but look on the bright side – everyone is in the same boat, every government is spending borrowed money so we either all sort it out together or we all go down the proverbial creek, together.

I mentioned free trade and we all know what I meant by that. On a wider view, however, it is global trade (often, wrongly, referred to by some as “globalisation”) that will allow the world’s economies to recover from the huge shock of the past year. The last thing we should be doing at a time like this is retreating behind walls – whether tariff, political or cultural (or literal, for that matter!) – we need to co-operate and prove that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Kepstorn has had a very busy and diverse year with London well and truly leading the charge. Listings, reverse take-overs, acquisitions, all have seen the profile of the business increase and spread. It will be interesting to see how many people, having spent (as they inevitably will have) a year working from home, want to return to offices and, as a natural extension, want to continue working for large organisations or, like us at Kepstorn, take the view that “small” doesn’t mean “less”. It is over thirteen years since we became one of the first, few Corporate Finance boutiques in the legal profession. I suspect that the work/life balance that no commuting allows will lead to a review of the work/life balance that spending time and effort with a smaller number of clients brings (both for the advisor and for the clients). That is the Kepstorn model and it has worked well for all for a long time. Time will tell.

I hope that the past year has seen you and your family and friends stay safe and well and avoid the worst of the pandemic. I hope that the next few weeks allows you some opportunity to draw breath and try and forget (or, at least, avoid the incessant reminder of) the world outside your family group. I hope that the year ahead provides the justification for all the hope and expectation that is being heaped at its door. I look forward to re-entering the wider world and seeing as many of my friends as I can.

If 2020 has shown us one thing, it is that the joy of human contact is irreplaceable; a force not just for good but the basis of everything positive that humanity enshrines. It’s also the excuse for a coffee, a drink, a meal, a chat. Never again will anyone who has lived through 2020 get an invitation to a business development meeting and turn it down!

Best wishes to you and to all those you hold dear for 2021. … and don’t forget St. Vincent’s Hospice.