Changing the world of investing

by Martin MacConnol

Despite some of our clients pushing hard, we don’t tend to work for free. But when Daniel Godfrey asked us to build a website to help get The People’s Trust off the ground, we said yes immediately, despite the lack of any fees. We just loved the whole idea of it.

For those who haven’t seen coverage of it in the newspapers, The People’s Trust potentially marks the start of a revolution in investing – it aims to make a better return for everyday investors at the same time as having a positive impact on society.

It’s planning to deliver on these lofty ambitions by focusing on the long term (seven-year investment horizons) and by aligning its investment managers’ interests directly with those of its investors. It will be built on a set of principles which includes not paying bonuses to managers for simply doing their job.

The Trust has a way to go to become a reality. The site we built is a crowdfunding one. Daniel wants to raise the £100,000 necessary for it to progress to a full launch through small individual donations (typically £20): it is after all “The People’s” Trust.

The team at Wardour is willing it to succeed. Over the last 20 years, we have been proud to work with many leading financial services brands, from high street building societies to wealth managers to investment banks.

During that time, we’ve also become aware of how trust in the sector as a whole has steadily ebbed away. Of course, that presents opportunities for a company like Wardour: we help firms build trust through our content. But there can be no doubt that it’s an unhealthy situation.

It’s easy to say all the fault for this lack of trust lies with the institutions themselves: from PPI to Libor, there are too many examples of the ‘house’ fixing the tables in their favour.

But at the same time, we as individuals in society have to accept our role in the problem. Technology has made everything more immediate, and that extends to our expectations for financial returns. This puts pressure on the institutions and individual employees to deliver. A rush to provide a short-term gain creates the potential for anomalous corrupt practices. But in addition, and perhaps more worryingly, it creates a perception that investment is all about making a fast buck. This in turn is bad for society as a whole: the quick returns are not necessarily gained from companies that are plugged into society for the long term.

As well as its core purpose of providing better returns for its investors, The People’s Trust could be the starting point of a wider shift in thinking about investment. You can read a lot more detail on the website. And, more importantly, if you have a spare £20, please do support it. You will be doing something which should be good for us all.

Published Oct 28, 2016

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