“Look what you could have won!”

Posted by TEBI on January 22, 2024

“Look what you could have won!”



Robin writes:

Every week, without fail, the weekend papers suggest different funds to invest in, and the case for doing so always seems so compelling.

This piece in the Mail on Sunday on Stephen Yiu’s Blue Whale Growth fund is a prime example.

The problem is, readers aren’t being shown how to outperform the market in the future, but how much wealthier they would be now if  they had managed to identify such-and-such a “star” BEFORE their stellar run began.

It’s rather like a TV quiz show I used to watch at my nan’s as a child, in which contestants were confronted at the end with what they COULD have taken home with them IF ONLY they had made different choices.

In fact, many of the articles we read in the financial media can be summed up in the immortal words of Jim Bowen on Bullseye, “Look what you could have won!”


One of the most popular television quiz shows of the 1970s and 80s was Sale of the Century. The UK version was produced by Anglia Television, and each show began with the words, “And now, from Norwich, it’s the quiz of the week.” At its peak it attracted more than 21 million viewers.

The format of the show allowed contestants to accumulate “money” through answering questions correctly. This money could then be used to buy prizes at significantly reduced prices.

For whatever reason, the thing I remember most about Sale of the Century is the twist at the end. If a contestant had not spent all their accumulated money on prizes during the game, the host, Nicholas Parsons, showed them what they could have won with their remaining balance. The prizes typically included fur coats, expensive holidays and often a car. 

Regardless of what they had actually won, it was a sting in the tail for the contestants — a moment of realisation of what could have been theirs had they made different choices during the game. For the viewers, it added a layer of drama and engagement. I still recall the look of disappointment on contestants’ faces and feeling a little sorry for them.

Reading the money pages of the weekend newspapers is rather like being shown what you could have won at the end of Sale of the Century.

If only you had spotted the potential of this stock before it went viral…

If only you had realised that such-and-such a fund was going to perform so well…

If only you had bought into this cryptocurrency before its value soared…

If only you had bought a buy-to-let flat in this once rundown district where rents and prices have rocketed.

If only. That’s all you had to do. Why didn’t you spot the opportunity? And how can you make jolly sure you don’t miss the next one?

If you’ve had thoughts like these, you’re certainly not the only one. In fact, it’s part of our evolutionary make-up to regret the choices we’ve made in the past, and to imagine how much better life would be if only we had acted differently.



ROBIN POWELL is the 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. You can find him here on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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