Hold the front page! Former editors’ reflections

Former editors of Investment Week look back at the highlights of their time at the helm of the brand.

Lawrence Gosling, founding editor

Looking back after 25 years of Investment Week, I distinctly remember one senior person at a leading asset management company telling us we would be lucky to last six weeks.

On that basis, we wouldn’t have even made it until the end of the 1994/95 PEP season.

That person is long retired from the industry and the company they worked for has prospered, while IW is still here and as strong as ever.

Tim Weller and I had a simple idea – create a publication that recognised the importance of investment to the wider outcomes advisers and wealth managers were creating for their clients.

Until the launch of Investment Week, the publications were dominated by pink papers that focused almost entirely on what insurance companies were up to.

It was obvious to Tim and I that pensions and insurance-based products were merely wrappers around the investment element, and yet there was little or no coverage for that part of the equation.

So, simply, we tried to create a platform for fund managers to talk about how they viewed investment markets and what that might mean for the underlying investor.

Now you cannot open an email without it being another comment from a fund manager about something which may or may not impact investment returns, and the time horizons they are asked to comment upon have become shorter.

As well as time horizons shortening, we have seen the rise of the so-called ‘star fund manager’ along with passive funds and multi-asset investing – all of which were little discussed in 1995.

Investment Week has never been a great advocate of ‘stars’ and last year’s Woodford saga is the reason why. We learned a painful lesson of what happens to ‘stars’ with the downfall of Morgan Grenfell European fund manager Peter Young in 1996.

What IW has always been is an advocate of genuine alpha-generating, active fund management and creating a magazine and website that still represents those values is the achievement Investment Week should be most proud of.

Mark Colegate, editor, 1998-2003 

The really tough thing about joining Investment Week back in 1995 was not bid-offer spreads, annuity deferral or broker bonds.

It was a mysterious thing called the world wide web.

One of the first Christmas parties was held at a Soho internet café, a gentle plug for the fact the paper was now available on a rudimentary website. 

Unusually for a media bash, fund managers turned up and I soon discovered why. I watched one settle down, navigate around the Investment Week site until he had found an article he had written, and then call his wife. 

“I’m published on the web,” he exclaimed to a clearly impressed other half.

The internet was going to be big but no one knew quite how. I remember the managing director of a large asset management firm giving Investment Week £60,000 to put his adverts all over our website. 

The gist of conversation was that as a large investment house, it had to be seen to be leading on the internet. There was no interest in what the adverts were meant to do, or how their effectiveness would be measured.

That combination of a strong big picture view but no detail was mirrored more broadly by investors as the tech bubble kicked in in the late 1990s and collapsed in 2000.

Stock prices might have fallen, but the internet lived on. The big issue was trust. Could users rely on the information on it, given the central role of free content?

There was a serious school of thought that Bloomberg and Reuters were dead: why pay for data when you could get it for nothing on the web?

The other part of trust was to do with money. “You would have to be mad to stick your credit card details into the internet,” one leading economist told me.

By 2010, that attitude seemed naïve. With cybercrime on the rise, his view might be judged less harshly today.

Kira Nickerson, editor, 2003-2006

It does not seem so long ago when I joined Investment Week. But I suppose, technically it was a generation. 

In the late 1990s, I was a Canadian journalist and tourist looking to add some UK experience to my CV.

With no idea where to start, I ended up at Investment Week as a temp receptionist. 

It is a story Tim Weller liked to regale people with – I was the receptionist that became the editor. I was employee number 40 at the company. I know because our telephone extensions ended with our entry number.

During the ten years I spent on Investment Week, I worked with numerous talented journalists. Many are still friends and even colleagues today.

The newsroom at Investment Week was tough. Getting on the front page was a challenge and an honour. The editing was rigorous and often involved shouting matches. Or maybe that was just me?

That is possibly why Lawrence Gosling fired me so many times (which I ignored – he was largely bluffing… I think!). 

It was a collegiate time: when press day arguments were resolved over a drink at the pub; when finding an exclusive was a treasure hunt of sifting information, talking to sources and leaning on the trust we had built with people.   

But the newsroom at Investment Week was more than just a great (and volatile) place that made writing about investments fun (truly). It was a lens through which I viewed seismic industry changes. 

I saw – and covered – the creation of ISAs, the rise of stakeholder pensions, the growth of fund platforms, the evolution of IMRO to the FCA and the emergence of the IA from Autif as well as the popularity ebb and flow of fund houses and star managers (those that even preceded Neil Woodford!). 

It was a time of Peps, demutualisation, the start of manager ‘sabbaticals’, the loss of well-known brands (remember Save & Prosper?), the growth of absolute return and the abiding impact of European regulations such as UCITs III.

Through it all, I have learned just how dynamic this industry is, one robust enough to survive and recover from crises like the dotcom boom and bust, the disaster of precipice bonds and split-cap investment trusts, the LTCM implosion, the Asian crisis, Enron, Lehman’s and the credit crunch. 

It has polarised, depolarised, RDR-ed and MiFID-ed. And through the hurdles of the past and the challenges of the future, this industry has emitted a sense of community, one which during my time at Investment Week I was lucky enough to experience.

James Smith, editor 2006-2008

I started at Investment Week in 2000 and left in 2008, and was acting editor for the tenth anniversary back in 2005.

It seems incomprehensible now, but the magazine had very little online presence when I joined and we could hold stories back for the paper, often for several days.

In the last few years before I left, online news had obviously become far more important but having been brought up on the print publication and the weekly goal of getting the front-page lead, it was a hard transition to make.

Another difference was the size of the magazine: there was still very much an ISA season in the early 2000s and advertising ballooned in the run up to the April deadline.

As features editor in 2001, I still remember the record 120-page issues that required finding something in the region of 35 placed articles every week.

In terms of stories, my time on the paper covered the end of the TMT bubble to the start of the Global Financial Crisis, which was generally a purple patch for the fund management industry.

The cult of the star manager was in full effect – recall those huge billboard ads of grinning multi-managers in Liverpool Street Station – and that culture was clearly behind what was probably the largest ‘story’ of my Investment Week days: the rise and subsequent fall of New Star.

I remember sitting next to then-news editor Rob Stock as he eked out the details of New Star’s first fund launches in 2001 and more and more managers moving across to join John Duffield. 

Most readers will know the story of what happened over the following eight years, but New Star was rarely out of Investment Week‘s pages for that period.

Alex Beveridge, editor 2009-2010

Longevity is clearly one of the best measures of success and Investment Week deserves to celebrate its 25th anniversary with pride.

Over the years, its editorial and commercial teams have managed successfully to navigate market volatility and media industry transformation – a rare achievement in trade publishing.

Casting my mind back to my relatively brief tenure ten years ago, one of the biggest stories was the return of Anthony Bolton. I remember having little doubt that this hero of active management would successfully conquer China… I guess nobody gets them all right.

Another big story was the implosion of Gartmore.

However, with the benefit of hindsight, the biggest story of my tenure should have been that Vanguard was beginning its serious assault on the UK.

Even as a career-long fan of active management, I have to admit that cheap and passive has served investors very well over the past ten years.

So well, we now hear some cry out (in hope) that we have reached peak passive – do not bet on it, is my advice.

Even if economic conditions change and favour stockpickers, passive is not about to disappear anytime soon.

Now Vanguard is entering the advice market. And why not? Apart from its passive offering, its $1trn-plus of actively-managed funds are not to be sniffed at. And Vanguard selects great active managers too.

The implications for the financial advisory community could be profound.

Whatever happens, I will still look forward to reading all about it in Investment Week  for at least another 25 years.

Katrina Lloyd, editor 2011-2019

The year 2011 was significant for me both personally and professionally: I got married in July, led a major redesign of Professional Adviser magazine in September and then moved over in October as editor of sister title Investment Week.

Coming from digital brand IFAonline helped me tackle one of the key issues for Investment Week at this time, which was moving away from being so print-focused and strengthening our online proposition even further. 

This impacted the weekly workflow and also led to discussions that are still relevant today about the role of print and online journalism. 

We also faced the challenge of asking a small team of journalists to meet the demands of a 24-hour rolling news cycle. We soon realised we had to focus on the information priorities for our readers and areas where we could add real value.

One of my proudest achievements on Investment Week was winning the Investment Association Team Award for Excellence in Investment Writing in 2016, during a tumultuous year including the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump being elected US President. I remember the team was up at 5am on the morning of the Brexit vote trying to keep up with coverage of events happening thick and fast.

My time on IW also saw us develop a social media strategy, as well as experimenting with different types of video and podcasts.

Meanwhile, my move to Investment Week meant I was involved in hosting our big events.

In particular, I remember the adrenaline was pumping as I waited under the Royal Albert Hall stage before our Fund Manager of the Year Awards listening to the choir finishing singing and applause after the fireworks thinking ‘How can I follow that?’ Hopefully, I did a good enough job.

Finally, I suppose what I really remember most fondly about my time on Investment Week has been working with all the great journalists and editors over the years.

Their support for me personally, the brand and each other often went well beyond the requirements of any day job and for that I will always be very grateful.

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