Mello Events and ShareSoc in partnership, present...

The Woodford Debacle -
Reflections, Redress & Reform

9th March 2021, 6pm - 8.30pm

Programme for the evening

I admit my fund was a failure. Why, I barely made £40m out of it!

Mello Events and ShareSoc in partnership, present the Woodford Debacle – Reflections, Redress and Reform. ShareSoc has been following the Leigh Day investigation for many months and has made the decision to endorse the Leigh Day claim. ShareSoc has also launched a Woodford Campaign, which you can join, to help investors seek compensation for their losses, facilitate communication between claimants and to help bring about changes in both regulations and enforcement that will improve standards and accountability.  Read more about and join the ShareSoc Woodford Campaign #WoodfordPayback here.

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What Went Wrong With Woodford? a presentation by Edward Page Croft

Edward Page Croft, Stockopedia

About Edward Page Croft

Edward Page Croft is the founder and CEO of investment website Stockopedia. Ed is a trained investment manager and programmer who aims to bring the art of smarter investment decision making to a wider audience through the web.

A forensic investigation…

Ed will talk us through his forensic investigation of What Went Wrong with Woodford….. ‘Well once the fund closed to redemptions in June 2019, we got seriously interested. Woodford was well known for being transparent about his fund holdings. We thought we might be able to dig out all the holdings history for analysis. What would we find if we overlaid Stockopedia’s share analytics onto Woodford’s holdings history? What we discovered was quite extraordinary’.

David Ricketts, Author of When the Fund Stops, will tell the story behind the downfall of Neil Woodford, once Britain’s most successful fund manager

David Ricketts is an experienced financial journalist and has covered the fund management industry for more than a decade. He is asset management correspondent at Financial News, the Dow Jones-owned publication based in London where has worked since 2017. He began his career as a reporter at the Financial Times Group just before the onset of the global financial crisis. He lives in Kent with his wife and two children. This is his first book.

Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director, will explain why ShareSoc have endorsed the Leigh Day Claim; and ShareSoc’s campaign to (i) hold to account those who have done wrong and (ii) improve the way the regulators regulate.

Cliff Weight has been a stock market investor since 1984. He now focuses on smaller growth companies. He was a director of MM&K, the leading independent remuneration consultant, and has 30 years’ experience as a remuneration consultant advising many FTSE 350, Small Cap and AIM companies. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Executive Compensation Briefing. He is the author of the Directors’ Remuneration Handbook and is a ShareSoc Director.

A panel of experts, chaired by ShareSoc Chairman Mark Northway, will examine whether it might happen again and what can be done to stop it happening again

Mark Northway is an experienced practitioner in financial markets with wide ranging managerial and governance experience across credit, fixed income, equity and treasury markets, and associated cash and derivative instruments. His experience spans multiple disciplines including marketing, trading, investment and the management of complex financial and regulatory risk within a variety of vehicles and legal structures.

Woodford investors will tell their personal stories of why they invested in Woodford funds and what they think should happen nowe done to stop it happening again

Neil Taylor, married to Mary with two children and lives in Lincoln.
Before retiring at 55, I was employment was at Automotive Distributors Limited in Marden, Kent as Group Finance Director. As a director and a shareholder, we developed operations in UK Portugal, Spain and Italy with a team of bright and focussed people in the automotive parts sector. The business was purposely sold in 2010 to German company, Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH. I officially retired in 2012 on health grounds and now spend my time looking my own investment portfolio, whilst also enjoying the fruits of new found freedom.
My interests are varied, I play guitar, ride bikes, both push and motor, drink red wine and drive fast cars. After studying to become an accountant qualifying in 1984, I pursued a career in accounting and finance ranging from audit, financing, group accounting, forex, budgeting and cash and treasury management predominately in the Automotive Sector.

We invested in Woodford LWEIF early from December 2014.   I was attracted to this new venture on the back of Hargreaves Lansdown clear and unequivocal support for Neil Woodford as a proven investment manager.  HL’s long relationship going back to his successful time at Invesco Perpetual plus the “love for Neil” undying support and recognition of him with full Wealth 50 status was ok for me.

We had also held shares directly in pharmaceuticals companies and when Woodford launched his fund it held 32% in FTSE100 and other major pharmaceutical companies.  15% in Astra Zeneca and Glaxo SmithKline plc was a great start who historically produce good dividend yields and capital growth, ideal for an Equity Income Fund.  What could go wrong!!

We continued to invest during 2015 & 2016.  We were happy with the dividend yields of around 4% and we had seen fairly stable capital gains around 11% to 2017 so nothing to worry about until 2018.  In 2018, Capital gains fell from 11% to minus -3.5% in this year.  We were concerned but it did not worry us.  We stayed firm, holding on to the reassurances from HL’s bullish messages of confidence and its maintained Wealth 50 status.  During 2019, was difference story, capital losses climbed and by the time we realised on 03 June 2019 it ground to a halt with 21% down in six months.  As we all know it ended here on this day for investors.

We had invested £76K in LFWEIF and have losses so far of £28.6k after four distribution returns from LFS, also £15k invested in LFWIFF with losses of £3.1k today.

Susan Raes 2
Susan Raes is an architect by training and following a successful career in London and New York she settled in Glasgow to raise her three children while developing a small property portfolio of Listed Buildings.  Six years ago she turned her attention to painting and she has never looked back.  She sells her work in local exhibitions and direct from her studio in Pollokshields.
I had enjoyed investing in Neil Woodford’s Invesco Perpetual High Income fund over many years.  He was viewed as the golden boy in the money sections of the weekend papers and his name was mentioned more than any other fund manager.  Woodford seemed to steer this fund through the financial crisis and it seemed to me that his dip was not as severe as many and he seemed like a really safe pair of hands.
I used Hargreaves Lansdown as a platform as it was convenient and easy to use. I made a gradual transition to WEIF, particularly when Hargreaves Lansdown added it to their ‘Wealth 150 List’ and subsequently their ‘Wealth 50′ list.  Hargreaves’ June 2019 Wealth 50 Report described their Wealth 50 list as “a list of what we think are the best funds across the major sectors”…”we dig deeper to find the funds we think can perform well in the future”  However, we now know that 25% of the fund was actually in illiquid holdings at this time and Hargreaves Lansdown had been challenging Neil Woodford since January 2018 over his heavy exposure to unquoted stocks.  Given this, it is difficult to understand why the fund was only dropped from Hargreaves’ Wealth 50 list after dealing was suspended.
I, in particular was adversely affected because I was not an active investor and I had over 75% of my portfolio invested in WEIF.  Last year I made a formal complaint to Hargreaves Lansdown and then took the matter to the FOS.  Now it turns out there might be more of a case against Link. I have no idea what to do next.  Should/could I make a complaint to Link and then the Financial Ombudsman, should I continue my complaint about Hargreaves or should I just sign up with Leigh Day and let them get on with it?

Mike Dennis is a chartered engineer by profession who worked firstly for Shell and then later for BOC, the industrial gas business. In the latter part of his time there he moved into sales, marketing and business development and ultimately spent several years as a board director for BOC’s UK businesses. Since 2012 Mike has been running his own consultancy business and spending time developing his own investment portfolio. Mike is also a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador and spends time encouraging students to take in interest in STEM related careers.

I was invested in Neil Woodford’s Invesco Perpetual High Income Fund for many years from the late 90’s through to the time he left to form his own company in April 2014. It had become my biggest fund holding over the years and I had been happy with the performance. Like most investors, I was impressed with Woodford’s handling of the fund and worried what his absence would do to its performance. It had already tailed off a bit in the year leading up to his departure and I wasn’t convinced the new team would do as good a job. So, after some deliberation, I sold a big chunk in late 2014 and invested some of it in WEIF expecting to invest more tranches as I gained more confidence in his new fund. What happened next is a bit hazy now. I know I didn’t invest any more tranches and, at the time, I think I became a little concerned that WEIFs investment strategy was drifting and I did’nt understand where it was going. I also became more interested in re-balancing my portfolio away from the UK markets in which I was overweight. To cut a long story short, I never did buy any more WEIF but I never consciously decided to sell what I had which was an error. Because it was only a small percentage of my portfolio, I kept overlooking it when I should have consciously decided to sell it as it was obviously no longer in my plans. I’ve learnt from that and am now a bit more ruthless at clearing out debris from the portfolio when I’ve lost faith in a holding. Its easy to think “I shall just hold onto that – you never know” but, if you do that with too many holdings it can be a big drag on your overall performance. So, today, I still hold those units and it looks like, by the time the dust has settled, I shall have lost about a third of my original investment.

Leigh Day will present their claim for redress

Leigh Day was founded on 10th June 1987 and now has over 500 people, with main offices in London and Manchester.  It is a top 100 law firm committed to claimant only cases ensuring that individuals have the same access to justice as the UK Government and large corporations. We offer a range of services to individuals in this country and those outside the UK looking to bring legal action against the British Government or large organisations based in the UK.

Bozena joined Leigh Day in 1997, was made a partner in 2003 and is head of the firms product safety and consumer law team.

Bozena specialises in large scale complex litigation and has led on a number of high profile group actions. She is currently joint lead solicitor in a claim on behalf of over 90,000 claimants in the Volkswagen NOx emissions litigation, described as the largest group action in the Courts of England and Wales. Bozena is also at the helm of the group claim against Mercedes/Daimler as well as other emerging emissions group actions.

Bozena Michalowska Howells – Partner and Head of product safety & consumer law 
Derrick Dale QC

Derrick is an experienced commercial advocate – described as having “a natural authority in the court room”. Derrick specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, in both a domestic and an international context, instructed as lead counsel or sitting as an appointed arbitrator.

His experience covers many areas, principally banking and finance, commercial disputes, insurance, professional negligence, civil fraud, asset tracing, financial services, insolvency and restructuring, regulatory and corporate crime. He is frequently instructed in cases requiring urgent injunctions, freezing and search orders and he is well versed in conducting group litigation.