James Coney  

Be thankful for the current Brexit impasse

James Coney

James Coney

In many ways, it was the original Northern Rock: undercapitalised, poorly run, and ill-equipped to deal with a downturn in the market. So hopeless were the management pre-2000 that when the firm took itself to court, it lost.

More than anything the insurer has become a totem for the rampant mis-selling of with-profits funds in the 1990s.

And of course, what is significant about Equitable is that it famously boasted of not offering commission.

For all the flak that advisers have had over the years for various scandals, Equitable’s sales surge was of its own making. 

Commission is held up as one of the ills of financial services, and I have always believed in total transparency of fees. But what Equitable shows is that it is more about the attitudes of the people running a firm that are most important.

When it comes to looking after someone’s assets, it is integrity and capability that matter more than anything.

Equitable’s demise also supports one more of my fundamental beliefs: investments should not be left in the hands of actuaries. 

World Cup-themed press releases are a bore

I love the World Cup, but one of the reasons to be thankful for the closing of the tournament is that it spells the end of the football-themed press releases. They really are interminable, and dire.

I count a dozen sitting in my inbox about the World Cup of investing, or comparing investments to players, looking at returns around the globe and how to build an investment portfolio based on a football tournament.

I realise these are dreamed up by marketing departments desperate for coverage, but I also think it is grossly irresponsible. Brazil may play samba football, but who really wants fireworks in their retirement fund when it could blow up in your face?

All this does is encourage investing on a whim. There is taking a punt and there is planning for retirement.

It is not making investing fun, but rather diminishing the expertise of proper fund managers.

Anyone willing to stake their future in this way may as well log on to Betfair and put it all on Tunisia to win.

James Coney is finance editor of the Daily Mail