The month ahead could herald the return of the Zoom social, setting the tone for the whole of the winter, Edmund Greaves writes
The cobwebs of summer were dusted off in September as normal life (or what we imagine it might be) returned after a heady summer of discount meals and quiet staycations. But now we’re entering the business end of 2020 and events will follow a critical trajectory from here on out.
With things on course for tighter restrictions, and a return to virtual socialising which many of us thought consigned to the dark months of March to May, we could be in for our first ever virtual Halloween.
Trick or treating aside, as we enter a month of critical decision making from those in charge, October’s events will no doubt mark the course for the rest of 2020.
First up, the various government schemes that have helped stave off the worst impacts of the crisis are winding up, leaving us all to face up to the harsh realities of life with the virus.
The beginning of the month (1 October) also heralds the first day of the ban on adviser contingent charging, among other pension transfer advice practice changes from the FCA. It will certainly be notable to see the impact on the marketplace as that ban takes effect.
On the same day Nikhil Rathi steps up as the new head of the FCA. Rathi’s comments ahead of his first day in the job suggest we are getting someone who wants to aggressively pursue causes in the interest of end-consumers. But it will be interesting to see whether this plays out once the practicalities of life in charge of the UK’s financial watchdog arrive on his desk.
There is also a notable change taking effect from October, although no date is specified – it is the month in which the state pension age officially rises to 66 for the first time. Anyone who turns 65 in October wishing to take an income from the state will now have to wait until their 66th birthday to do so.
On 12 October the Link Q3 Dividend Monitor is also published. The data will provide an important insight into how listed firms are faring with delivering income to investors. In the early months of the crisis dividend payments toppled like dominos, so whether Q3 saw enough of a bounce back to encourage firms into paying them out again could be an important economic indicator.
The latest UK employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are also published 13 October. Ahead of the planned end of the furlough scheme which wraps up on 31 October, all eyes will be on developments in the labour market. Meanwhile inflation is out on 21 October, another report which was once mildly relevant but now critical in the outlook for UK plc.
Good Money Week is also still set to go ahead in October, despite some changes to the dates. The awareness week, which will see a raft of coverage about sustainable and ethical finance takes place between 24 and 30 October and will focus many in the media on “good” money stories. At a time when the spotlight is on a panoply of crises and ethical issues, it is likely to be a busy week!
Finally on 31 October we must not forget Halloween. There will no doubt be plenty of vampires, zombies and pumpkins in the money pages in the run up, and although celebrations may be somewhat more subdued this year, I’m already planning my HallowZoom (or Zoom’ween? Answers on a postcard) costume.
There’s no accounting for taste, but maybe bat costumes are off the menu and we can all pay homage to our brave key workers instead.