Birmingham has always been an industrious place.

But this year the ‘city of a thousand trades’ celebrates its 130th anniversary, which it marked earlier in January with a series of live performances in Victoria Square.

For us at Quilter Cheviot, 2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of our Birmingham office opening, with several of the original staff who helped to set up the office still contributing to our success in the city.

Birmingham has a lot to celebrate on its 130th anniversary as a city.

We are now the top city for starting new businesses outside of London, something that I increasingly see reflected in our client base.

At the same time, the pool of talent we have to recruit from has never been greater, with Birmingham an increasingly important hub for financial services, and its history of craftsmanship and trade helping to give it a unique identity.

Like many people who have worked in Birmingham for the past two decades, I have witnessed enormous growth in the city, including the revival of some its most famous landmarks.

 
David Jupp, Head of Birmingham Office

This year will mark the reopening of the Grand Hotel, featuring exciting new spaces like contemporary Chinese restaurant Tattu and adding another premium hotel to the city.

At the same time, Birmingham’s cultural scene is hotting up, with the city bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and the Birmingham Royal Ballet appointing Carlos Acosta as its new director, with Acosta widely regarded as the greatest dancer of all time.

You might ask why this all matters.

Isn’t this all the icing on a cake of an already fine city?

Well, yes and no.

In today’s economy, it is increasingly important that Birmingham offers the type of cultural pursuits and leisure activities that the best global cities offer.

Attracting people (or human capital in the economic lexicon) is increasingly important to the city’s growth and ensuring that its businesses can compete and succeed on a global stage.

Attract talented people to your city and leading businesses will want to follow, helping to attract more talented people and generating a virtuous circle of growth.

Regardless of what happens Brexit-wise, competing on a global scale will be ever more important in the coming years, particularly as Birmingham’s competitors are not just London or Manchester, but also Shanghai, Mumbai and Jakarta.

Birmingham does, of course, face challenges.

 
Tattu on Barwick Street.

The impact of Brexit remains to be seen, but restrictions on trade with the Continent would hurt the wider region’s prospects, and put at risk the renaissance in the automotive sector.

But Birmingham also has great strengths going forward.

Birmingham University cemented its ranking as a top 100 university in the global QS rankings this year, and is making good progress on developing its attractions as a graduate school.

This should hopefully drive the number of people studying for PhDs in the city, further boosting the talent pool businesses have to recruit from and increasing the chance of exciting new start-ups being based in the city.

As investment managers, we also face our own challenges in the year ahead.

Brexit is certainly one of them, though people typically over-estimate the extent to which it will affect global markets.

Providing you diversify your portfolio, and include exposure to international, as well as UK assets, then you should be well hedged against any Brexit risks.

Carlos Acosta
Carlos Acosta, Birmingham Royal Ballet's newly appointed director

The outlook from a global perspective is probably more challenging than a year ago.

There are concerns over the extent of the slowdown in global growth, higher interest rates in the US, and the risk of a trade war between the US and China.

But last year holds a valuable lesson for investors.

When expectations are high, the potential for disappointment is also high.

Conversely, low expectations often herald a period of better market performance.

There is no doubt that sentiment has been impacted by the weakness of markets into year-end, but this looks more like a reset in valuations to us, rather than the beginning of a bear market.

While global economic activity is expected to moderate over the coming year, we should still see the world economy deliver positive growth.

Indeed, we may actually see faster momentum in emerging markets, particularly if the US dollar weakens and oil prices remain low.

We are potentially being set up for a modestly positive year in markets, albeit one pockmarked with plenty of volatility.

As we look forward to 2019, I’m excited for what we will see in Birmingham and for our plans in the Birmingham office.

We will be back with our annual sponsorship of BBC Countryfile Live 2019 (held down at Blenheim from 1-4 August and up at Castle Howard, York from 15-18 August).

We will also be running our annual photography competition, #CapturingTheMoment.

Our theme for the competition this year is to celebrate Britain’s rural communities.

Towards the end of the year we will be exhibiting the best of our #CapturingTheMoment photos in the lobby of the newly refurbished Grand Hotel and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing it following its £25m revamp.

So plenty of challenges in the year ahead, but a lot to look forward to as well. Regardless of what happens, however, I am confident that Birmingham will continue to thrive and that we can build on the success of our past twenty five years in the city.

Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up.

Investors may not recover what they invest.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Any mention of a specific security should not be interpreted as a solicitation to buy or sell a specific security.

See the full Birmingham Post Rich List 2019 here

If you are on a desktop or tablet you can view the Birmingham Post Rich List 2019 supplement her