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Misplaced trust - assessing the case for compensating Woodford investors

In many ways, Neil Woodford became a victim of his own success. At Invesco Perpetual, his judgement had been questioned on several occasions, such as for avoiding technology stocks during the late 1990’s boom, or later, in selling out of bank stocks before the financial crash. Both times, he was proved right, which cemented his aura of being an astute investor with the strength of character to maintain his convictions in the face of strong criticism. His record had also helped to generate a fierce loyalty in the growing band of investors who had made money through him and his team.

Within Invesco, its US senior executives became increasingly concerned about the dependency of its UK subsidiary on the £30bn of funds under his management. They began trying to rein him in, and their view was strengthened when they discovered that he was investing in private companies which, being unquoted, were hard to value. This led to a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigation and a fine in 2014, but the FCA found no evidence to suggest that action was warranted against any individual.

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