Keeping trust in advice

Simon Read

Simon Read

And that will prove to be one of the biggest fallouts of the collapse.

Many small investors will feel they are the real victims.

They will read that Mr Woodford has taken an estimated £63m in dividends and profits from his company in the past four years since it was founded.

Meanwhile, chief executive Craig Newman has trousered £37m in the same period.

Hargreaves Lansdown

There is also the involvement of Hargreaves Lansdown, which took more than £40m in fees from customers invested in the Woodford fund it had recommended.

But this is not simply a tale of greed and hubris.

It is a story that undermines the whole investment industry and criticisms that financial advisers are not immune from.

“The whole situation has been awful for investors and damaging for the industry,” pointed out Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services.

“It is worrying that so much trust has been lost. We now need to work hard to get that trust back.”

I have written often about trust in financial services and how important it is.

But I have seldom touched on how fragile it is. There will be many normal folk who are now, at best, licking their financial wounds, but who could be considering moving away from investing altogether.

That could be an even more costly decision, so financial advisers should be busy seeking to reassure and reinforce the importance and value of the right decisions.

While the age of the star fund manager may be over, sensible and considered investment decisions should remain.

Patrick Connolly, head of communications at Chase de Vere, said the focus on star managers was “done solely to entice investors to part with their money”.

That style of marketing should be consigned to the dustbin. It is time for the resurgence of individually-tailored financial advice.

That will mean more work in matching the right investment opportunities to clients’ needs, but it is essential work to ensure that trust in financial services is not totally lost.

Simon Read is a freelance journalist