Very important advice

Effective Investing: Mark Dampier, published by Harriman House

Mark Dampier is far too modest to consider it, but he is a really important person in the UK economy. This is due to his considerable talents and his application of them in his job with one of the really important companies in the UK economy – Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hargreaves Lansdown is not without capable competitors, but there is no denying it is a leader in delivering change and efficiency to the UK savings market. There is also no denying that its success is critical to the welfare of not just savers, but all UK citizens.

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There are two interrelated and useful tasks for Mr Dampier and his colleagues. First is to demonstrate what technology can do to make saving simpler for individuals and, crucially, better value. Next and even more important, is to further foster a risk-taking equity culture in this country. The UK needs both more entrepreneurs and more intelligent providers of risk-seeking capital. Hargreaves Lansdown’s growing ranks of DIY investors, taking responsibility for their own financial affairs, are learning from Mr Dampier’s experience and benefiting themselves and the broader community too.

So, while I agree with him how depressing it is when you “switch on the television and what do you see... loan companies that charge you unbelievable interest rates and endless advertisements that beg you to start gambling on sporting events” (p213), Hargreaves Lansdown’s success shows there is still hope.

I was really encouraged by the £800m Neil Woodford raised, with Hargreaves Lansdown’s help, for his Patient Capital Trust. New companies, jobs and wealth will accrue.

Effective Investing is an important educational book. It is technically correct and, thereby, useful, but I most responded to its witty and optimistic spirit. How about Mr Dampier’s admission that he gets ribbed for always giving the same advice to Hargreaves Lansdown clients after a market correction:“It’s a buying opportunity”? As he says: “It might be trite, but 99 per cent of the time it’s also bloody true!” (p200) The book’s motto could be its early claim about investment: “It is nothing like as complicated as it sounds” (p11). And he delivers on that claim.

Mind you, as a fund manager myself, I found his barb that most of us pros “do look a bit older than the pictures in their promotional material when you meet them in person – funny that” (p92), quite unnecessarily lowered the tone and undermined his credibility.

Nick Train is a co founder of Lindsell Train. Lindsell Train is an investor in Hargreaves Lansdown, whose clients in turn invest in Lindsell Train funds