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Maggie Thatcher: The PM who created IFAs

iain-anderson.

The first general election I really remember was in 1979: watching John Craven’s Newsround break off to go to Downing St as Margaret Thatcher entered No 10.

The first national party conference I attended was at Brighton in 1984 when Maggie and her Cabinet survived the IRA bomb and the miners’ strike raged around us.

As I studied economics in the late 1980s at St Andrews, home of the new Adam Smithers, the Big Bang started to transform the City and with it the UK’s fortunes.

For my generation and countless others’, life has been shaped by Maggie and her premiership and the fortunes of financial services, for good and bad, were unleashed by that multiple term of office.

Britain’s longest-serving 20th century prime minister embarked on a personal savings revolution and council house sales were just the start.

To come were personal pensions, the expansion and globalisation of “The City”, privatisation and the emergence of the “Sid” culture individuals who directly owned shares for the first time.

For readers of Money Marketing, her premiership created the “IFA” itself. Were all those changes good?

I believe her direction of travel was right. Of course, some reforms were not or turned out to have uninten-ded consequences. The personal pensions “scandal” led to an ebbing-away of confidence in retail savings.

Many would say an artificial wall between the IFA and tied advice did not reflect the real­ities of the market, nor of con­sumer understanding.

An unbridled focus on home ownership created the conditions for a lending and credit bubble, the effects of which we are living with now.

As a Scot who supported her, I was never in the majority. But it would be wrong to say she unleashed the devolution or independence debate. It was there for all to see in the 1970s.

While the sense of north vs south deepened under her premiership, it too had always been there and remains so two decades later.

Without Maggie, the finan­cial sector would not have reformed on its own; share ownership would have remained the privilege of the few; home­ownership would still be an unobtainable dream; and the financial adviser – in all forms – would not have been the same.

Maggie’s legacy will always be controversial but her big political idea, personal responsibility, did much to fire up the world of finance.

She will always be Maggie to me and Thatcher to others but she changed our world.

There are few politicians of whom we can say that.

Iain Anderson is director of Cicero Group

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