Julian Knight: Missed opportunities leave me standing at the bus stop

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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

    Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

    £30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

    Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot