By ROBIN POWELL
As a journalist, you have to smile when people in authority blame the media when things to wrong.
What they tend to forget, of course, is that it’s often because of the media that they got to where they are in the first place. A certain reality-TV-star-turned-politician from America comes to mind.
OK, Hargreaves Lansdown’s research department is a far cry from the Oval Office. But Mark Dampier, its former head of research, is similarly guilty of forgetting the debt that he and his former employers owe to many years of (mostly favourable) media publicity.
Without constant coverage in the weekend money sections — one Sunday paper even gave Dampier his own weekly column — Hargreaves and its poster boy Neil Woodford would surely not have enjoyed anything like the success they have done.
“It was an awful period for all concerned,” Dampier said in a recent interview about the Neil Woodford scandal. “I can’t talk about it because it’s all under legal [proceedings]… I would love to talk about it, as there was a huge amount of misinformation given by the media at the time, which is the only thing I will say, but it’s not the time yet to talk about it.”
I for one will be very interested in what Dampier does have to say about Woodford when he is able to talk about it. I suspect the more than 300,000 Hargreaves clients who lost money as a result of the Woodford blow-up will be very interested too.
In the meantime, is it a really a good idea, from a PR perspective, for Dampier to be re-stating his belief in so-called best-buy lists?
As we’ve explained many times on TEBI, best-buy lists are essentially a marketing ploy; they’re primarily designed to persuade you to invest on a particular platform. The more assets under management a platform has, the more it earns in fees.
Until recently, these lists have rarely included low-cost index funds. Are they a useful guide as to which funds will outperform in the future? Of course they aren’t. Recent research by The Telegraph showed that, in 2020, a year that offered a perfect opportunity for active managers to prove their worth, more than half of funds on best-buy lists failed.
As my latest piece for Money Marketing argues, this is surely a time for the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown to be showing some humility.
You can read the article here:
ROBIN POWELL is the founding editor of The Evidence-Based Investor. He works as a journalist and consultant specialising in finance and investing, and as a campaigner for a fairer, more transparent asset management industry. He is the founder of Ember Television and Regis Media. You can find him here on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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