Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Where are the clients' yachts?

Owen rightly highlights an ace letter in the FT last week, and the paragraph he pulls put is the same one that rang true with me.
I have been in the investment business for some 20 years, during which time I have seen just how many lunches, clay pigeon shoots, tickets to the rugby and nights at the opera come between the average pensioner and his pension, or between a charity and its investment income.
Amen to that. I've been involved with the pensions industry, and latterly more the investment industry, for about 10 years in one way or another. And it really is just one jolly after another, if you choose to take advantage of it. And it's so engrained that no-one - not even the progressive types - thinks twice about it. Everyone enjoys the free food/booze/match/opera night because no-one seems to be paying for it. Only we are, it's that extra basis point. It's why the 'service providers' have better stuff than the clients. And it's why when you go on the jolly you're ultimately drinking your own champagne.

Being slightly more serious, and taking the argument wider, John Kay makes the point (I'll post up a review of his interesting new book once I've finished it) that if you are serious about investing, one thing you want to do is cut out as many intermediaries as possible.

This ought to be an area that lefties are interested in. All that largesse has a cost, more in fees means less in income, a lower pension. Investment consultants and even private equity managers think that we (or our trustees) are nuts to simply go on handing over more and more money in fees. This could be an area where a populist campaign could a) hit the right target and b) have a real impact. What about it?


Falco said...

I'm not saying this necessarily stacks up but you're ignoring any possible benefits from the jollies.
If the staff get to join the jolly that probably helps retention and recruitment for instance.

If the money is just micturated against free standing objects then returns should be lower and therefore fewer people would invest with them.

Tom P said...

Yeah maybe, but it's still a significant cost that other industries don't bear to the same degree. and I'm not sure to what extent staff (as opposed to clients) actually enjoy the jollies once they've done their 100th lunch with a local authority finance dept!