Did you read the story about the Brexit hypnotist?
According to a U.K. publication, one of the leading Brexit campaign organizations brought in a hypnotist as a consultant to view their “leave” television commercials in production and suggest ways to make them more effective.
But they were quick to add: “We didn’t hypnotize anyone.”
Turns out the Brexit “remain” supporters were the ones in a trance. The majority of Britain’s voters made their preference crystal clear: We want to leave the EU.
Now comes the hard part — navigating the murky waters of a post-Brexit world.
Recently, I reached out to a few of The Sovereign Society’s longtime European associates for their thoughts on this vexing situation.
Brexit: The View From Switzerland
I was especially keen to know the thoughts of Rob Vrijhof, president and senior partner at the Zürich-based independent asset management firm WHVP and a member of The Sovereign Society’s Council of Experts for nearly two decades.
Right now, said Vrijhof, the key is caution: “We will follow the situation very, very carefully and are not willing to expose our clients to hectic trading, especially since we are and have been set up for this situation since the beginning of the year.”
As for Britain’s course going forward: “Only the future will tell whether this will be a positive or a negative for the country and its population.”
Indeed. One positive we know for sure is that the Brexit has only added to the tailwinds for gold prices since the start of this year.
“Gold,” said Vrijhof, “is and will be seen as a safe haven during these difficult times. We are overweight precious metals for our clientele and believe that we will be moving to $1,400 an ounce for bullion before year-end or perhaps even higher.”
And with good reason, says the Zürich-based asset manager: “I have not seen the world in such bad shape as it is today. We could see ‘helicopter money’ take place in Japan. We also have China’s slower growth, terrorism, along with the U.S. on the brink of recession.”
Vrijhof sees interest rates remaining very low for a long time to come. “Central banks are facing strong headwinds and are currently running out of ammunition; I strongly feel that they are at a loss as to what to do next.”
In Every Crisis … Opportunity
He has a few ideas in mind, though, for where some opportunities may lie, beyond gold:
We strongly believe that the wind has turned on commodities and believe this will have a positive effect on commodity currencies such as the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollar. Oil will be trading closer to $60 a barrel by year-end and will leave the $50 level behind very shortly.
Vrijhof sees the gains in these foreign currencies as not just an opportunity to profit, but as an important part of protecting wealth in the turmoil still ahead of us:
Holding cash in foreign currencies is, in our eyes, of very great importance. Be conservative. You do not always have to be 100% invested; take some money off the table if you can. The current strength of the U.S. dollar is a window of opportunity for wealthy Americans to get a part of their total wealth invested away from exposure to the dollar.
As Vrijhof noted in our conversation, volatility has been enormous. The S&P 500 has swung, on average, about 35 points in either direction in the past seven trading sessions. For now, the result has been (with apologies to Maxine Nightingale’s 1975 disco hit) that “we’re right back where we started from.”
How do you protect your wealth (and nerves) from such enormous market swings, or keep from pulling the trigger on an investment decision at precisely the wrong time?
Vrijhof, whose banking and portfolio management experience goes back to the 1980s, is one of the most popular speakers at our events. For more of his sage advice, you should consider joining us for our Total Wealth Symposium in Bermuda, September 14-17.