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Past Editors: Grant Ringshaw Editor, 1997 – 1998

Early in June at The Sunday Telegraph, I found myself editing our front-page splash revealing how the FSA had blasted Tony Blair after the PM had made a speech accusing the regulator of “hugely inhibiting” business and the wounded watchdog had bitten back in a strongly worded letter claiming the accusation was unfounded and deeply damaging.

It reminded me of my days at Money Marketing. Regulation was more than ever the dominant theme during my editorship. The FSA was created by Blair and Gordon Brown while on my watch in the editor’s chair. The twists and turns of creating this beast provided a rich vein of stories for the paper.

It is ironic that eight years on, Blair should now be turning on his creation.

Looking back, I think coverage of regulation was a major test of how we shaped up against the opposition. The hot news events were also the rise of the networks, disputes over renewal commission rights, consolidation as the banks tried to get a piece of the life insurance action and the emergence of the vulture fund. These topics remain but the nuances are different. Instead of LAHC we have Resolution Life and banks looking to strike multi-tie deals rather than buy life insurers.

Some of my aims as editor were to build on the paper’s reputation for hard-hitting news – I wanted us to be the paper which broke the mergers, the scandals, not one that followed some hack on a national newspaper. And in general we led the pack – though I would say that.

We also tried to introduce more investigative features at the same time as producing authoritative surveys and promoting professional development for advisers. One of the biggest challenges was getting that balance right.

Another was a couple of tricky legal cases as we wrote hard-hitting pieces on the Knight Williams’ debacle (remember that?) and the slow demise of Fimbra.

And the frustrations? An obvious one – keeping staff.
Money Marketing has always been a training ground with the path to the national newspapers.

To state the blindingly obvious, editing Money Marketing is a big job. It is a great title and running it is a huge responsibility. The best moments were the scoops and producing a really good edition. The worst moment was dislocating my knee in bizarre circumstances on a “press trip” in Bermuda but at least that allowed me to gain a lifelong hatred for British Airways, which refused to upgrade me on the flight home.

In the end, I trod the same path to the national newspapers. What was I doing – leaving an industry with so many battles to fight, to say nothing of the joys of those press jollies (now long gone) to far flung places organised by cash-rich fund firms?

After editing and news editing, I decided to go back to basics as a reporter on The Sunday Telegraph. It was a gamble, it was scary but it seems to have worked. Now I write about big institutional shareholders, not private investors and investment bankers, not financial advisers but every so often you get a feeling of deja vu when regulation rears its head.

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