Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Robert Maxwell stole my pension - I want it back...

I'm still pretty sore that Maxwell raided the Mirror Group pension and my tiny investment. Sure it happened a scarily long time ago but it gave me a sobering insight into what can happen when one entrusts ones life savings to another person.

I only lost a few hundred pounds, unlike others who lost twenty or thirty years investment and yet I've avoided pension schemes ever since with only one exception. Even then, I cashed it in when I moved on from that company.

Interesting discussions on my last post. Is my plan to invest in the stock market simply a gamble? Even worse, part of the same greed that has gotten the global economy in such a state?

I once said in a job interview that I'm not risk averse. I have a strong belief that risk is a good thing (and not just the board game...) I don't see taking risks as gambling though I acknowledge that the two are related.

I have speculated in my purchase of some shares, absolutely! I have to say, I regret some of my speculations, if only because on some I lost money, and on others, I took profits too soon!

But, if I had not been willing to speculate, I would not have had the opportunity to learn from some of those failures and discover a better way of investing.

I definitely want my investment in companies to benefit them just as much as it benefits me. One of the things I am now trying to do, is hold shares for much longer, assuming a company continues to rise in value. But, if the value of a companies shares begins to sharply drop, would it be prudent for me to continue to hold onto those shares?

I don't believe so, but am aware that even recently, I sold shares through what's known as a Trailing Stop Loss and regretted having set it so tight. But, again, that was a learning experience and I'm going to be more careful with that particular tool in future.

While I take risks, I try as much as possible to minimize them. Stocks and shares are not my only plan, I've also been blessed to be able to rent out our old house and in twenty or so years, that hopefully will provide some income. As a landlord I've spent a lot of time doing up that house for tenants over the years, fitted a more efficient boiler last year and still manage to keep the rent at a reasonably low level. Does that make me a good landlord? I don't really care! I do care that the tenants are happy and having been one, know that if I keep the house in good order, they are likely to reciprocate.

But, my ultimate goal with all this is to save enough so that at some point, I can either retire, or more likely, cut down work to an enjoyable level. All without Maxwell's help, or maybe, just maybe, because of him. Perhaps it is time to forgive him... what do you think?


  1. Time to forgive Maxwell? - probably. Didn't really follow what happened though, so I don't know the details and it's easy for me to talk! Don't find it hard to believe that he was in the wrong though, but then I guess that's what forgiveness is all about?

    Glad you're investing for the longer term - for yourself as well as for the companies you're involved in - and I accept that you also need to think about protecting your investment, which sometimes means getting out when things are going bad.

    Speculating though - as I understand it - isn't focused on long-term investment, it's focused on trying to buy and sell at exactly the right time, as often as necessary, in order to maximise personal profit.

    My main problem with this isn't the risk per se. I don't think risk is bad - it is a necessary and important part of life and yes, it teaches us about failure. My main problem with speculating, is the money-for-nothing attitude that lies behind it. It doesn't contribute or add anything positive to society, it just aims to skim off the profits that other people have worked for. You only win because someone else loses - which is how gambling works as well.

  2. Is buying shares a gamble? I would answer with the words of Warren Buffett: "It is not risky to buy securities (inc. shares) at a fraction of what they are worth."

    I too steer clear of pension funds and have decided to manage my own fund. I have heard that the average fund manager cannot beat the market average, and since February I am up about 40% (all glory to God). I would not trust a pension fund anyway incase they did a Robert Maxwell.

    I have learned much from Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham. Benjamin Graham's book, "The Intelligent Investor", taught me a lot, along with, The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett and George Soros" by Mark Tier.

    Aidan Henderson

  3. Hi Aidan, I'll have to borrow those books from you! Glad you are seeing success with your own managed fund!