Jeff Prestridge  

Losing a friend over press

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

And then there are those who believe he represents everything that is bad about active management – over-hyped, over-paid and over-priced – and that he fully deserved what has come his way.

For the record, I would like Woodford Investment Management to survive, but it looks all but doomed.

If it does die a death, it will do untold damage to the cause of active fund management industry and play into the hands of those who believe passive fund management is the way forward.

What the Woodford debacle does highlight is the need for urgent reform and for more effective regulation, on so many levels. Investors need a much fairer deal.

For a start, the commercial relationships between fund platforms and fund managers need to be closely examined, especially the potential for abuse of powerful best-buy lists.

On investment funds, the rules on the holdings of unquoted companies and illiquid assets need to be re-examined so that there is never again a need for the gating of funds and investors being left high and dry (and anxious).

Also, it is high time the role of the ‘authorised corporate director’ on an investment fund was put under a microscope. Too often, these custodians of investors’ money have failed in their duties).

As for fund charges, they need to come down so that the financial gains from successful investment management are more evenly distributed.

As for financial journalists, we all need to strive to do our job better.

Never once have I written investment copy for The Mail on Sunday that has been influenced by commercial interest.

Yet I have made plenty of mistakes. It is what happens when you are writing about investments with usually only the benefit of hindsight – and the views of experts – as guides.

Yes, the press does ‘big’ people up – and then seem to rejoice in their downfall.

Yet I take no pleasure whatsoever from the dismemberment of Woodford Investment Management, the pain some of its employees are obviously going through and the anxiety felt by those investors who are still locked in Woodford Equity Income.

A dreadful episode in the history of our country’s fund management industry. One I hope we can all learn from.