Opinion 

Facts not favours

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

I am proud and privileged to be a financial journalist. It has been my modus operandi for 30 years, and I can not imagine I will do anything else with the remainder of my working life. Once a hack, always a hack.

When I eventually leave the personal finance chair at The Mail on Sunday, I will spend the rest of my days doing occasional pieces (no doubt online) for publications that entertain me. Saga Magazine, perhaps.

Looking back, though, I can not deny that I have made mistakes along the way.

My blackest moment? Back in 2000, I wrote a story that Bradford & Bingley would remain a mutual, then the next day it confirmed it was demutualising (what good that did to anyone other than its executives, I do not know to this day). I was so embarrassed by how wrong I was I offered to resign.

Yet for every mistake I have made, I have had victories along the way. I was onto the failings at Equitable Life long before it imploded in 2000, and I waved the flag for appropriate compensation thereafter. Indeed, I still wave it today – most policyholders remain financially shafted even after government compensation.

I was the first journalist to report that Dunfermline Building Society had gone bust in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and I broke the news that Barclays Bank was closing 172 branches in April 2000.

I am also proud that I was first onto the lack of protection available for those whose pension schemes were wound up in the wake of their employers going out of business.

Without my coverage of this issue – and the fantastic work of Baroness Ros Altmann (long prior to her becoming a baroness and a government minister) – there would now be no pension protection fund to provide a financial comfort blanket to the likes of BHS employees.

It is just a shame that those I set out to help – early victims of wound-up pension schemes – are receiving inferior compensation.

Recent campaigns on armed forces pensions injustices and copycat websites are work in progress.

So there have been personal victories and defeats, moments of pride, followed by an occasional episode of acute embarrassment. But throughout, never once have I done my work without the utmost professionalism.

Despite working for a huge – and politicised – media company, I have remained my own man. I have steadfastly railed against financial injustice, criticised governments of all persuasions, and striven to help readers through the baffling jungle that is personal finance.

It is therefore disappointing to discover that Robin Powell of Evidenceinvestor.co.uk and communications agency Regis Media is challenging my integrity.

He believes that because I support a vibrant fund management industry, where active and passive management thrives (anyone who believes in competition would hold such a view), I am part of some conspiracy between the media and the funds industry. Mr Powell should be writing fairy tales, not financial blogs.

Comments