For 2 lengthy years, essential questions have remained unanswered for greater than 300,000 traders who positioned their financial savings within the care of Neil Woodford: who was accountable for his Fairness Earnings fund’s collapse and the way a lot will they ultimately lose?
Judging by the restricted data offered thus far by the Monetary Conduct Authority and Hyperlink, the fund’s authorised company director, the victims will probably be ready a very good deal longer earlier than they get any closure on one in every of Britain’s largest funding scandals.
The latest replace from Hyperlink, whose job it was to make sure Woodford complied with guidelines and that traders have been protected, suggests traders is not going to be repaid — and subsequently discover out their final losses — till “late 2021” on the earliest. This does little to ease the anxieties of those that stand to lose life-changing quantities, particularly savers who’ve needed to delay retirement.
An official verdict on culpability can also be a way off. Final week, after a lot harrying from politicians, the Metropolis watchdog lastly broke an extended silence on its investigation into the failed fund. However these determined for solutions may have been upset by FCA chief Nikhil Rathi’s three-page missive.
Treasury choose committee chair Mel Stride was definitely underwhelmed, saying “the longer the investigation goes on, the larger the sense of disappointment that will probably be felt by those that misplaced out”.
The FCA has type on the subject of dragging its heels on investigating high-profile business failures. Simply ask the traders who lost up to £237m in London Capital & Finance, or those that suffered £104m of losses within the collapsed Connaught Earnings Fund.
Nonetheless, these sums are dwarfed by the estimated £1bn that Woodford traders stand to lose by the point the disposal course of is accomplished — at any time when which may be.
Whistleblowers declare that apart from being understaffed and overstretched, the watchdog has little curiosity in speeding instances that present the business in a foul mild.
Rathi’s replace final week acknowledged investor frustration, stating that confidentiality needed to be maintained for the investigation and any potential subsequent disciplinary course of to be “credible and truthful”.
But for the 300,000 people whose cash has been trapped within the Woodford Fairness Earnings Fund, the regulator’s glacial response solely serves to corrode their religion within the funding business.
Owen Walker is writer of Constructed On A Lie: The Rise and Fall of Neil Woodford and the Destiny of Center England’s Cash