October 2008. A month that I will always remember, for two reasons.
Following Lehman Brothers’ colossal bankruptcy, global markets plummeted in October and close to $10 trillion - an eye-watering amount of money - was wiped off market caps. Investors mourned the loss of their money and witnessed the start of a mammoth financial crisis.
October 2008 was also the month I left behind my job on a pensions magazine, a world where although politicians loved keeping us on our toes with consultations, last-minute U-turns and tinkering aplenty on Budget days, the pace of change was slow and pension scheme trustees’ decision-making on asset allocation was likened to turning a rusty old oil tanker around.
And where was my new job? Money Observer, of course. In at the deep end, writing about stock markets, property, interest rates and so on; with an intense economic crisis bubbling away in the background, the pace of change was rapid.
I’m recalling all this because my time has come again to move to pastures new. I’m hoping that June 2013 will not trigger any more crises but with my track record you never know.
As some sort of swansong column I’d like to mention a few of the positive developments that have happened over the past four and half years.
Financial education is going to be added to the school curriculum. Regulation now bans independent financial advisers from taking commission. Demand for do-it-yourself trading platforms has exploded and there’s even a comparison website to help investors find the cheapest platform for them. The Order Book for Retail Bonds launched, giving private investors a channel to buy and sell bonds.
However, clearly some things have not changed for the better. Economic growth is barely there and interest rates are still rock bottom; unfortunately I never had a hot line to George Osborne or Mervyn King to try and fix that. And there are more challenges ahead, not least inflation (or deflation) and a precarious housing market.
Ever the optimist though, I hope we continue to see glimmers of good news and maybe our Isas and pensions will balloon too. Finally, I need to thank you, the readers, for all your feedback and article ideas and of course, for continuing to be loyal Money Observer readers.