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Market Update


As we approach what could be the coronavirus peak here in the UK, I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and importantly staying at home.  

Following last week’s decline in new infection rates, the worst affected European countries began to see falls in new cases in absolute terms, in conjunction with falling mortality numbers. The latest data from Spain, Italy, France and Germany suggests the containment measures are having a positive effect. 

In the US, new case and fatality number still climb precipitously, with New York (City and State) the epicentre in numerical terms. Of the 337,000 US cases, 123,000 are in New York State, with more than half of those in New York City, where the spread of the virus has been extremely dramatic. With a similar population to London, NYC alone has around 1/3 more cases than the entirety of the UK. 

After last week’s unprecedented 3.3 million surge in initial jobless claims in the US, this week’s number was even more dramatic at 6.6 million, meaning close to 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks. The magnitude of these numbers is shown in the chart below – the red highlighted sections are past recessions:




The US government’s stimulus package means that the unemployed will receive up to $600 per week for up to 4 months, with self-employed and gig-economy workers now also eligible, but it is clear that the labour market impact will be enormous, with knock-on effects to consumer spending contributing to a predicted sharp downturn in GDP this year. 

Rumours of a rapprochement between Russia and Saudi Arabia, brokered by Donald Trump, sent oil prices sharply higher during the second half of the week. Whilst still down more than 50% from levels at the start of 2020, talks to be held this Thursday bring hope of a stabilisation in relations. 

Throughout this week we hope to see a continuation of falling new infections and fatalities in Europe and a moderating of the same in the US as lockdown measures increase or continue. While this has been (and will be) positive for investment portfolios – which have regained a portion of their losses – looking forward, economic data will undoubtedly continue to be very weak in the coming months, implying further volatility from here. As always, we stress the importance of a long-term approach, focussed on the prudent management of long-term objectives.  

As China reopens for business, we will look to Western governments to eventually provide similar pathways to a restarting of economic activity. We expect this to be very gradual in nature and to be led by widespread testing regimes to identify those ‘safe’ to resume normal activity. Perhaps further ahead are chances of a medical solution either through effective drug treatment or a vaccine. We hope that the beginnings of a resolution emerge soon. 

We will be in touch regularly to keep you updated on further changes, however, if you would like to discuss any of the above points or you would like to review your current position, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

Fairstone Group Ltd trading as ASM Financial Planning Ltd

ASM Financial Planning – Covid-19 contingency planning 

The UK Government’s guidance on Covid-19 is being regularly updated.  Below are the steps which we are taking in response to the current guidance. 

Our key priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff, families and clients.  We also want to ensure that we continue to meet client requirements and deliver on our service commitments.  

In response to current guidance we are now observing the following practices:  

  • To postpone any on site or off site business meetings unless there is no viable alternative option;  

  • Endeavour to hold meetings by alternative means such as video conferencing or conference calls; and,

  • Most of our staff will be working remotely rather than from our office. 

Our approach may have to change depending on advice received from the government.  Having invested significantly in our IT infrastructure in recent years we believe the approach we are taking will enable us to continue to meet our clients’ requirements, while ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff, families and clients.

Our staff can continue to be contacted via their email address (forename.surname@asmfinancialplanning.com), their mobile phone or during office hours on our office number 02890 996164. 

In relation to support and assistance available to businesses, employers and employees, please visit our colleague’s website https://www.asmaccountants.com/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-from-hmrc-and-irish-revenue-commissioners/ for up to date guidance issued by HM Revenue and Customs and the Revenue Commissioners.

We will be pleased to assist you in any way we can during this difficult period.
Kind regards.


CSR Newsletter

5,500 Reasons to get Involved in CSR!!

"I am delighted that ASM Financial Planning has been able to donate £5,500 to a number of local charities through our CSR programme".

Click on the link below to read the full article

ASMFP 2020 CSR Newsletter

Fairstone adds new firm to its DBO programme

Fairstone, one of the UK’s largest Chartered Financial Planning firms, today announces that it has signed up Belfast-based ASM Financial Planning Limited to its unique downstream buy out (DBO) programme.

The deal brings more than 3,000 clients, seven advisers and a team of nine support staff to the wider business as well as gross fee income of £1.5 million and Funds Under Management of circa £250m.

Based in Belfast, ASM Financial Planning provides pension, protection and investment advice to high net worth individuals as well as local and international businesses based in Northern Ireland.

Fairstone is a full-service wealth management house delivering integration-led growth and its unique downstream buy out approach ensures that companies are fully-integrated with Fairstone prior to final acquisition, ensuring a seamless transition for clients and staff. Significantly, many companies which have successfully reached full acquisition have enjoyed increased organic growth and a higher valuation than expected on purchase.

Commenting on the deal, Haydn Gibson, Managing Director of ASM Financial Planning, said: “We are enthusiastic about our link up with Fairstone.

“As one of the largest Chartered IFA firms in the UK, we believe that this will enhance our ability to offer a competitive and professional service to our extensive Northern Ireland client base. The arrangement with Fairstone provides us with economies of scale that will enable us to focus on relationships and to provide quality advice to our clients.”

Fairstone CEO Lee Hartley added: “We are delighted to bring another quality business into our downstream buy out programme. When we select businesses to work with, client interests always come first. We partner with those companies who share our determination that clients should never be treated as a commodity.

“ASM will now be able to take advantage of Fairstone’s support and infrastructure to grow the business without compromising on client service or independence.

“Our DBO programme continues to be a core driver of growth for the business, reversing the traditional buy and build approach. Integration plays a key role in a firm joining the programme and the DBO proposition ensures all firms benefit from industry leading infrastructure to help grow their businesses.”ASMFP_Fairstone_Group_2.jpg

ASM Financial Planning Charity Fundraising 2019

ASM Financial Planning Limited is very proud to have raised £3,500 for Cancer Focus NI as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. This money was raised by taking part in the Mourne 7 Summit Challenge and holding a series of lunchtime 'Come Dine With Me' events. We just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported us before, during and after the challenge!


#cancerfocusNI #givingsomethingback


On Saturday 22nd June a team of 5 employees from ASM Financial Planning successfully completed the Cancer Focus Mourne Seven Summit Challenge.  Registration was from 05.45 and we started the challenge at 07.15.  The first 5 mountains took about 5 hours to complete and we thought we were on target to finish the challenge within our target time of 10 hours however, the last 2 mountains and the long walk to the finish took a further 5 hours and thirty minutes to complete. 

The weather was initially misty but by late morning cleared to reveal the wonder of the Mourne Mountains.  The scenery was as stunning as the terrain was tough.  We made the check point well within the 15.00 cut off time.  Cancer Focus had set up a refuelling station at the check point on the bridge across Spelga dam and we stocked up on more sugar and water before heading off for the last two mountains.  We completed the last ascent of Slieve Lamagan at 15.20 and headed off for the finish managing to cross the line at 17.55.   (There ar some photos in the link below.)

Approximately 450 undertook the fund raising challenge for Cancer Focus, with only approximately half of this actually completing the full distance of 35km. 

We wanted to raise funds for Cancer Focus to help fund research for Breast Cancer and we were all pleased that  not only finished the challenge but that, with your generous support, we are on target to raise £3,000 for Cancer Focus. 

With over 12,000 cancer diagnoses being made in Northern Ireland each year we hope the funds raised from this event can help fund research to develop tests for, treatment of and prevention of breast cancer.

On behalf of the firm and the members of the Seven Summits team we would like to thank everyone again for their generous donations, kind messages of support and interest in this challenge.  We definitely couldn’t have done this without you!
Jessica Craig and Katie McCallam
There is still time if you would like to donate to assist with the funding cost for Queens to continue their research please use this link -


E Cards

Third Year Anniversary of your Auto Enrolment Staging Date - Re-enrolment

The final increment in employer and employee minimum pension contributions came into effect on 1st April 2019 and whilst it is important that this increase has been implemented there are other ongoing responsibilities to be met.

Auto-enrolment was introduced back in October 2012 with the largest companies having to implement the legislation first.  This means that for many smaller companies the legislation only came into effect from late 2015.

Click on the link below for more information.

Auto Enrolment Information

Business Eye Magazaine

Article By Luke Robinson, ASM Financial Planning

The current tax year ends on the 5th April 2019 and it is therefore an opportune time to make sure that your finances are in order and that you are making the most of available tax reliefs and allowances. There is a lot to think about and as such some opportunities to explore are included in the link below.








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5 Pilots View
Heron Road
Telephone. 028 90 996164
Email. enquiryasmfinancialplanning.com