"Inflation is like a hungry rat on a piece of cheese," says Bestinvest's Jason Hollands

15 September 2021

Inflation figures released this morning have revealed that UK Consumer Price Inflation expanded by 0.7% in August to an annual rate of 3.2%, faster than expectations. The rise will renew concerns that surging prices have yet to peak, putting pressure on household budgets, savings and investments, as well as the Bank of England.  

Jason Hollands, Managing Director at Bestinvest, the online investment service, comments:

"While rising inflation reflects the rebound in the economy after last year’s sharp contraction and the temporary effect of supply chain blockages in certain areas, there is also a risk that some of this could prove more persistent should the economy start to overheat which may in turn prompt the Bank of England to wind down its stimulus programme which has kept borrowing costs extremely low during the pandemic.  

“Price rises are going to squeeze the budgets of many households and will add pressure on businesses to raise wages. Many households were able to build up their savings during the repeated lockdowns, but the surge in inflation threatens to erode the real value of these cash war chests. While it is very wise to keep a cash buffer for short-term needs and emergencies, holding too much cash for long periods of time will see the real value of this wealth eaten away by inflation like a hungry rat tucking in to a piece of cheese. I would urge people to consider whether they have the right balance between cash savings and long-term investments.

“Beating inflation should be a key objective for long-term assets. In this respect, equities offer far greater potential than bonds. 10-year gilts are currently yielding 0.74%, so are negative in real terms once adjusted for inflation. Within the spectrum of equities, there is a good case for owning dividend generating funds as these provide an element of predictability providing pay-outs are sustainable. Other asset classes that can help inflation-proof an investment portfolio include infrastructure and gold.

”Ultimately a little bit of inflation is not necessarily a bad thing, but if inflation persists at a higher level than the Bank of England’s long-term target rate of 2% for a prolonged period, it would be problematic for family budgets, businesses, savers and investors.”

About Tilney Smith & Williamson

Tilney Smith & Williamson is the UK’s leading integrated wealth management and professional services group, created by the merger of Tilney and Smith & Williamson on 1 September 2020. With £54.8 billion of assets under management (as at 30 June 2021), it ranks as the third largest UK wealth manager measured by revenues and the eighth largest professional services firm ranked by fee income. The Group currently operates through three principal brands: Tilney, Smith & Williamson and online investment service Bestinvest. It has a network of 28 offices across the UK, as well as the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands. Through its operating companies, the Group offers an extensive range of financial and professional services to individuals, family trusts, professional intermediaries, charities and businesses. It is uniquely well-placed to support clients with both their personal financial affairs and their business interests. Tilney Smith & Williamson’s personal wealth management services include financial planning, investment management and advice, online execution-only investing and personal tax advice. For businesses, its wide range of services includes assurance and accounting, business tax advice, employee benefits, forensic advice, fund administration, recovery and restructuring and transaction services.