Julian Knight: Missed opportunities leave me standing at the bus stop
Sunday 26 December 2010
I could be writing this from a villa in Provence or a yacht moored in the Seychelles, but I'm not – I'm in freezing London seemingly spending half my life waiting for buses struggling through the now-black slush.
Don't feel sorry for me, it's my own fault. I have had a chance to make my fortune over the past couple of years – if only I had been brave enough. This wasn't, though, some Dragons' Den-style entrepreneurial idea but instead shares – yes, the only asset class which is worth less than it was 11 years ago. I am a firm believer in the invest-on-the-sound-of-gunfire notion, and there have been some prime opportunities to make a killing which, due to lack of heart and resources, I've missed out on. Let me give you two examples.
A few years back, Shell was found to have got its calculations wrong over how much oil was in its fields. The hedge funds feasted and Shell's share price tanked. Here was a great, profit-making company available at a song, and did I jump in? No. I can't remember the rationale but while I dithered all the profits had been snapped up by investors with the resources and the appropriately large cojones.
The second, even bigger, miss was banking shares in early 2009. RBS and Lloyds would have gone if it hadn't been for the Government and there was a genuine risk – and still is to a lesser extent – that they would have to be fully nationalised. The share prices were so incredibly cheap; the gunfire was loud, and the buy signals were clear. After all, what was the worst that could happen? If the banks collapsed, then frankly I'd have a lot more to worry about than a lost investment. When money had the potential to be worthless, what's the worry about gambling some of it? It was the no-brainer investment of my lifetime but again I didn't go for it – partly because I write about the banks, but also a sit- on-the-fence-wait-and-see attitude.
Now I am being told that shares are the asset class of the moment, and there is logic to the argument. Investors are getting no returns on cash, bonds – or property for that matter – unless we are talking rental yields, which are, in fact, up. Meanwhile, company profits are proving resilient and dividends are holding up nicely. Some also suggest we're due another bull market – share prices are still below their 1999 levels yet the real economy is about a third bigger.
This should be the year to drip-feed money into shares and sit back and watch the capital grow as your friends and neighbours earn 2 per cent at best on their savings. But, then again, comes my inner voice of caution which worries about the sovereign-debt crisis in Europe and the fact that spending cuts in this country, instead of going too far, may in the medium term not prove enough; we borrowed £6bn more than were supposed to again last month. The market in isolation looks very good, but profit and loss doesn't count as much as future sentiment, and that could be ruined by the sovereign-debt crisis.
So, 2010 was an OK year for shares but not a great one, and, despite all the noise, I'm not convinced about 2011 prospects. There I go, fence-sitting again. Anyway, I must dash. I have a bus to catch.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
iJobs Money & Business
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens