Paul McMillan: Taking on the banks and winning

Taking over as editor of Money Marketing towards the end of the financial crisis had its ups and down.

It is fair to say with revenues careering off a steep cliff we were not blessed with the biggest staffing budget and job security was not at its highest. But then no one got into journalism for the wages (that’s what I kept telling the news desk).

However, with the tide of financial markets well and truly out, and the sector at the start of what became a seismic shift, it was a great time to be a financial journalist and there was plenty for our young and talented team to get their teeth into.

A few weeks into the role a couple of lonely sheets of paper appeared out of a fax machine gathering dust in the corner of the office. It was from an IFA reader, Richard Davis, furious about the way a few of his clients approaching retirement were advised by Barclays to cash in their savings and invest in a global income fund that was subsequently battered during the crisis.

We went big on the story, which was widely followed up across the media. The condemnation snowballed and Barclays was later fined a record £7.7m and forced to pay around £60m to mostly elderly customers. This was the biggest example of the huge range of stories we broke, exposing poor standards of bank advice with the help of our readers who were often left to pick up the pieces.

The various twists and turns of the RDR often took centre stage as advisers were forced to achieve new qualifications and reshape business models. The passionate debates about the pros and cons of the new rules more often than not highlighted the pride all sides took in their profession.

We were always careful to listen to all points of view and were particularly cynical of the self serving propaganda from certain quarters declaring the upcoming death of the IFA. Many of them appear to be on death row now themselves.

Hopefully we were seen as a constructive critic by those in Canary Wharf, although one senior regulator did blow a gasket when someone internally leaked a major RDR paper to us a day early – one line at a time by text.

Money Marketing had, and I am sure, continues to have sources within regulators, the Government, providers and other positions of power who trusted us as the first port of call when they thought something needed to see the light of day.

The Budget was always the most exciting day of the year for the news desk and my last Budget at MM was the biggest. We had been leaked full details of Chancellor George Osborne’s pension bombshell early and were quick to understand the implications.

It also become the subject of a few early front pages of the redesigned magazine format of Money Marketing which we spent nearly a year thinking  about internally before I finally got the go-ahead for the radical facelift.

Hopefully readers agree with me that it offers MM a better way to continue to set the agenda, represent the interests of its readership and challenge unacceptable behaviour. I am sure the brand will continue to evolve healthily alongside its passionate and entrepreneurial readership over the next 30 years.

Paul McMillan, years as editor: 2009-2014