What a bad year for the units
In the second in a series on bad investments, Willie Williams talks to Corinne Simcock about a year that began with Elvis Costello and a pile of money and ended in a storm and a crash
Saturday 24 February 1996
"1986 was a very good year for me, because I got a job as sound engineer with Elvis Costello - whose music I adored - and spent several months touring the US and Europe. It was the rock 'n' roll dream come true.
"For the previous seven years I had been running my own sound equipment hire company and managing a small rock group, neither of which had made me any money whatsoever, so while other members of the Costello crew were partying, I was being extremely frugal.
"At the end of the tour I got my pay cheque and tucked away what for me was a very large sum of money in the building society.
"The problem in my business is that you come off tour with cash in your pocket but you never know where the next job is going to come from. Some people blow it all, but obviously the most sensible thing is to try and spin it out in case you're unemployed for a few months. Fortunately, on this occasion, I was going straight onto another tour.
"I had made no savings whatsoever while I was running my own business, and although I had started a small pension plan when I began working for other people, by the start of '87 I was very much aware that I had made nowhere near enough provision for my future.
"From reading the papers it was obvious that my pension would provide me with nothing by the time I was 60, and money left in a building society for 20-odd years was not going to give me a sensible return.
"This was the time when the Stock Exchange was going through the roof and house prices were soaring, so when I had a break in early March I set up a meeting with my financial adviser to discuss the possibility of buying some unit trusts and increasing my pension contributions.
"He left me with all the relevant forms to fill in and I told him I'd get back to him within a week. I then did absolutely nothing about it until September, when I was offered a tour running through until Christmas.
"At that point I ran around frantically trying to take care of everything I should have done over the previous six months. I settled all my outstanding bills, found the forms from my financial adviser and - knowing I could be sure of a decent amount of money coming in - decided to send off a cheque.
"Despite the fact that I had never invested more than pounds 1,000 before in any one thing, I decided to buy one lot of unit trusts at pounds 6,000, and then, on the spur of the moment, threw another pounds 4,000 into a different company, bringing it up to a nice round figure of pounds 10,000.
"On my way to the airport on October 1st I posted the cheques, then disappeared to deepest France to begin touring with Johnny Halliday.
"Black Monday followed 18 days later. We were working so hard that I was completely out of touch with what was going on in England. It was only when news of the Stock Exchange crash - and the 1987 hurricane - hit the local papers that I dashed into a railway station to buy an English newspaper to find out what was going on.
"To be honest, I was more worried about the storms than the crash, but I was 800 miles from home and there was nothing I could do about either. As it happened, I was lucky with the storms: the few tiles that had fallen off my roof were not important... and none of them had landed on my car.
"As for investments... they do say that the best time to buy is immediately after a crash, not just before. Having already procrastinated for seven months, with the benefit of hindsight it would obviously have been better had I waited a few more weeks.
"Fortunately I had invested for the long term rather than expecting a quick return, so although I was cursing myself at the time, it wasn't the end of the world.
"Nine years on, some of those unit trusts are still only worth two-thirds of the price I paid for them. It had taken two years of saving for me to raise that pounds 10,000, and I spent it all in one day.
"Although nobody could have possibly predicted Black Monday, I made three big mistakes which I will never repeat.
"First, I procrastinated. The advice I was given was right at the time, but I didn't act on it. Second, I stopped reading the financial pages and was completely out of touch by the time I got round to sending the cheques off. Third, when I decided spontaneously to invest a further pounds 4,000, I did it without even thinking at all.
"The moral of the story is: don't take your eyes off the ball."
Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
05 September 2014 11:30 PM
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
08 August 2014 11:30 PM
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
iJobs Money & Business
£70-90,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client a London Market Insurer are seeking a Pro...
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
Day In a Page
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
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony