Over the years, I’ve learnt to look forwards, not backwards. To try to not regret personal mistakes made – and by Jove I’ve made many – and instead just look towards the future with boldness and enterprise. To focus on the now and not hark back.
It’s a rule I apply in all aspects of my life. So, although I can’t run as fast as I used to, I now just rejoice in the fact that every Saturday, regular as clockwork, I do a 5km Parkrun (103 so far).
I’m not as quick as I used to be ten years ago when I would hare around Black Park near Slough like Billy Whizz, but it doesn’t bother me.
British fund manager Neil Woodford went from hero to zero in a matter of months
I can still run (Brueton Parkrun in Solihull on Christmas Day) and I am thankful for that – even though some youngster doing wheelies in Hyde Park last week took one look at my figure and bellowed out: ‘Like your beer, don’t you mate!’
For the record, I used to but not any more bar the occasional pint at the Queen’s Head on Wokingham’s high street.
Similarly, in the personal finance world, I don’t regret the fact that I wasn’t shrewd enough five years ago to invest £5,000 in fund Fidelity Global Technology.
If I had been a little bit smarter, I would now be sitting on an investment worth nearly £10,000. C’est la vie.
As a journalist, I also prefer to look ahead – to see ways in which I can help readers better their personal finance lot.
For example, pointing them in the direction of competitively priced fixed rate mortgages or a savings account that will pay more than the usual pittance in interest.
Yet it is difficult to leave 2019 without looking back a little, especially on the investment front.
I break my rule because the collapse of Woodford Investment Management is one of the most significant personal finance stories I have covered in more than 30 years of money journalism.
The Neil Woodford episode has demonstrated beyond doubt that the regulation of the financial services industry remains woefully inadequate and not fit for purpose, Jeff says
Neil Woodford, investment guru, star fund manager. From hero to zero in a matter of months.
Not for many years has a personal finance story hit such a raw nerve among so many readers who entrusted a fund manager with their life savings, only to see the value of their investments decimated by mismanagement of the highest order.
An episode that has demonstrated beyond doubt that the regulation of the financial services industry remains woefully inadequate and not fit for purpose (a blot, for sure, on the CV of FCA boss Andrew Bailey, now heading for the Governor’s seat at the Bank of England).
An investment debacle that has highlighted the fact that some fund platforms are driven more by commercial interests (making profits) than looking after the best interests of customers.
An investment implosion that Mr Woodford has yet to be punished – or held accountable – for.
Indeed, the only people who have been ‘punished’ (surprise, surprise) are the fund investors.
They have taken the hit for Woodford’s mismanagement squarely on the collective financial chin.
Sadly, not everyone sees it this way. Some financial advisers to this day maintain that Mr Woodford did no wrong even though he was running a high-risk investment fund (Woodford Equity Income) that bore no resemblance to its name. Garbage.
Even Andy Bell, founder of successful fund platform AJ Bell, seems more interested in defending than criticising Mr Woodford – despite the fact that the latter took more than £8.7 million of fees from Equity Income after it was suspended in June (fees that outrageously sucked money from investors into Woodford’s giant hoover).
Last week, Bell said that some of the press coverage about Mr Woodford at the end was ‘awful’.
He added: ‘It’s easy to kick people when they’re down. I’m in a bit of a minority and sticking up for him but, you know, I think someone needs to.’ Later on, he said that the pair exchanged texts.
Talk about shooting the messenger. Mr Bell should know better.
No one other than Mr Woodford is to blame for the Woodford debacle. He got too big for his boots and investors paid a heavy price for his arrogance.
Happy New Year to you all. Look forward, not back in 2020.
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