Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Pension, No Shares, No Hassle

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Pension, No Shares, No Hassle

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM LOTT

THE financial services industry may lack intelligence, integrity and any kind of ethic other than greed. But you can't fault it when it comes to sheer barefaced cheek. I remember a few weeks ago being left gasping by some spokesman for the industry who was sensitively telling all the people who'd been ripped off through endowment shortfalls not to panic, because they could solve their crisis in a trice. How? By going to their "financial advisers" and purchasing even more front-loaded financial products from their jamboree bag of incomprehensible, misleading and underperforming rackets.

Duh. Isn't that how everyone got into trouble in the first place? The City is tainted with sleaze, overpayment, sexism and the whiff of corrupt practice.

How does all this make me feel?

Angry, of course. Outraged, naturally. But also, to be honest, a wee bit smug because, despite all efforts of the sharks and hustlers of the financial services industry over the past 20 years, I've never bought a single financial product, other than a mortgage (since I had no choice). I have no pension, no life insurance, no stocks and shares, no ISAs.

Am I insecure, worried about the future, vulnerable and at risk, as the financial services industry with it's incantations about " security" and "peace of mind"? Not at all. Rather, I'm hugely relieved to have had the good sense not to have trusted these cowboys with my hard-earned cash.

My prejudice against the industry goes back a long way and is rooted in two events. The first was in the early 1980s when I applied to my bank manager for a mortgage.

He said he'd consider me ( mortgages were much harder to get then), but only if I would have a consultation with one of his cronies who sold pensions. I reluctantly agreed, and a week later sat down to an hour's hard sell by a bespectacled man in a tired suit.

He took me through all the options with his little calculator, and informed me that if I put tuppence away each week, by the time I was 65 I would have amassed a zillion quid.

I nodded and tried to be polite.

Then I asked him how much I would have by the time I was 65 if I put the same money in the much more secure and flexible hands of a building society account. He huffed and puffed, tapped away at his calculator - and informed me, glumly, that I would have about the same amount. I then asked him why I should commit all this cash to an institution where I could not easily access my funds.

He was stumped.

The second event was with a "friend" of mine who convinced me to buy an endowment mortgage from him. I didn't trust them, and I would only buy one that guaranteed me enough money to pay of my mortgage at the end of the term.

He said he'd found one, so I bought it, earning him a huge commission.

Years later, I found out that this wasn't true. …

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