‘Get your tips out…’


When online stockbroker comdirect launched in the UK in June 2000, its marketing message was not a study in subtlety. 

The ad referenced in the title was in Loaded magazine, with similar messages appearing in Cosmopolitan and the national press; there were even plans to place a ‘cat’ on the Old St roundabout that got bigger each day with the slogan ‘watch your kitty grow with comdirect’. 

At the time around 2m people were actively managing their finances, and Ehsrealtime, the agency responsible for the campaign, predicted that online sharedealing would become ‘the new rock’n’roll’. 

Seeking to debunk the City and democratise investing, comdirect set about disrupting the industry with state-of-the-art technology and ‘Fair Deal’ pricing – £12.50 regardless of instrument or market. 

When DIY Investor launched in 2014, with a mission to ‘inform and engage’, it was to enable existing investors to make informed decisions and to educate those new to investing. 

Whether down to the use of smutty innuendo, or an increasing recognition of the need for financial self-reliance after a seemingly endless stream of black swan events, the number of self-directed investors has now topped 6m.  

Unless they take early and affirmative action, Millennials face being the first generation to be poorer than their parents; with student finance, the cost of accommodation, squeezed wages, and uncertainty of state provision of healthcare and retirement, never has there been a greater need for people to grasp the financial nettle. 

It is generally accepted that improved financial literacy is key to successfully plotting a course to financial independence, but in this issue, there are indicators of where gaps exist, and the challenge of plugging them. 

Boring Money’s annual pension survey paints a picture of insufficient provision and accounts scattered hither and thither; worryingly, 3 out of 10 self-employed have made no provision for retirement – many choosing to believe that ‘something will turn up’.  

There have been renewed calls for statutory financial education in primary schools, but as Laurence Taylor tells us, 52% of 7–17-year-olds don’t receive any meaningful financial education either at school or home, because teachers and parents alike feel ill-equipped to deliver it. 

Without a ‘trusted voice’ there is the temptation to answer the siren call of #fintok and Reddit, with the well-documented dangers of meme stocks and crypto. 

Times change – from a peak audience of 2.5m a month, Loaded closed in 2015, but the challenge remains to engage with a much larger audience. 

DIY Investor is actively working with a range of partners to engage members of corporate savings schemes with a programme of financial education and empowerment; carrot is favoured over stick, but for some it will take the financial equivalent of a diseased lung on a packet of Rothmans to come to the right conclusion and get rich slow.   

The scale of the challenge of making investing ‘sexy’ is not underestimated, and not helped by the fact that the compliance lexicon often does not appear to include ‘would’, ‘should’ or ‘could’. 

It is believed that a whole host of new investment platforms are due to be launched but I, for one, hope they will resist the race to the bottom in terms of pricing. 

All parties have a role to play if things are to improve – I recently had reason to speak to a well-known broker in search of some clarity; unfortunately, none was forthcoming.  

Granted, I’m not paying for advice, but the fact that £12.50 is now closer to £3 should not excuse brokers from ensuring their front-line staff have a basic level of knowledge and competence. 

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  • Staying on course in a volatile sector…
  • Where next for Japanese equities?
  • QD View: Is there an easy fix to the sector’s discount problem?
  • We’re going to need a bigger boat…
  • AI – opportunity or threat?
  • Get rich slow: Half empty or half full?
  • How we are playing the Indian stock market boom
  • DIY investors outdo the professionals
  • Investment trusts: 6% returns on cash, too good to resist?
  • Media watch: Still waiting…
  • My Q3 2023 portfolio review
  • Liquidity – shrinking when it’s most needed
  • How much has everyone else got in a pension?
  • How might we reduce the slings and arrows of financial stress?
  • Investing Basics: Index investing for the DIY investor
  • The fund sector delivering consistent returns despite choppy markets
  • Investing Basics: The advantages of ETF investing
  • Spender to Saver > Saver to Investor



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