I’m afraid your daily editor Nickolai has injured himself. It’s nothing too serious he tells me, but it makes typing very painful, so I don’t ask for the specifics.
His past life as a trapeze artist is likely taking its toll on him (all that excitement can haunt your later years). But all being well, he tells me he’ll be back on Friday for your weekly roundup with Nigel Farage.
While this disruption to your daily service wasn’t intended, it does come at an opportune time – for I was meaning to introduce myself to you shortly anyway.
My name is Boaz Shoshan. I’ve been working here at Southbank Investment Research as an analyst and editor since 2017 (feels like a lifetime ago).
You may be familiar with my work over at Capital & Conflict, my daily e-letter which recently merged with the one you’re reading now, or perhaps you watched our 2021 Gold Summit earlier this year. You may also have seen some of my contributions to Exponential Investor, our sister e-letter with a focus on technology.
But if not – I’m very pleased to meet you, and in the spirit of Casablanca, hope this marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Let me tell you a bit about my background, as it would be neither polite nor fair to just barge into your inbox without knowing anything about me.
I used to be a financial adviser back in my hometown of Aberdeen, but things didn’t quite turn out the way I expected them to. Not in a bad way – I didn’t leave the industry on bad terms or in disgrace – but I just found the job wasn’t a good fit for me. I was a little too… curious.
As an adviser, selling insurance and navigating the bureaucratic labyrinth of the UK pension system was fine, but it didn’t stimulate me like the markets did. I wanted to know why strange things were happening in the market, rather than just stewarding money into it.
How did central banks get away with conjuring money out of thin air? Why were investors happy to lend money at low interest to the Mexican government and French energy companies for 100 years? And how was fixing a debt crisis with more debt supposed to work?
I realised early on while I was training to become an adviser that I was going to encounter trouble satisfying my curiosity, however. A chap I trained with informed me after we’d both completed our studies that I’d earned “a black mark” against my name for “asking too many questions”.
“Groupthink” is too strong a word, but there’s plenty of “following the herd” when it comes to giving investment advice. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of fantastic financial advisers out there who only want the best for their clients and do everything in their power to make sure that happens.
But financial services is a very heavily regulated industry, and that means satisfying the regulator is utterly paramount; in fact, it’s often the most time-consuming aspect of being an adviser. This changes the behaviour of advisers in general and can lead them down the path of least resistance: giving investment advice which will create the least paperwork.
I found that expressing an alternative view, questioning mainstream investment wisdom and narratives was rarely welcomed. In my role as an adviser, I didn’t find the financial services industry was interested in questioning itself, even when the stakes could hardly be higher. This is an industry tasked with safeguarding the hard-earned life savings of British citizens – literally the wealth of a nation. What if somebody makes a mistake? What if some of our assumptions about investing are wrong, as so many popular assumptions have been all the way through financial history?
I wanted to know. I wanted to ask. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to do so while wearing the robes of an adviser. And that’s why I left, and now continue my search here at Southbank Investment Research. I hope you’ll come along for the ride, and enjoy the journey with me.
That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with some news about an exciting project we’re developing – and I’d like your input on it.
All the best,
Contributing Editor, Fortune & Freedom